Peter Calo’s Time Machine opens with bayou vibrations on the opening track, “Do I Love You Too Much,” cradling an interesting musical migration, at least to the ears of this long-time listener of Calo’s music. The eight songs on this 2016 release, Time Machine, have the respected singer/songwriter/session man crafting a work that blends a multitude of styles within his three and a half to five minute essays/tunes.
In 1982 his jazz band, Bellvista, released a six song e.p. followed by 1983’s Spoonerism from the Peter Calo Band. A mainstay of the Boston scene, Calo was involved as an original member of both Down Avenue (the band which had Charles Pettigrew of Charles & Eddie “Would I Lie To You” fame) and The Heavy Metal Horns. After his stints with both groups Peter moved to New York where he began doing session work, producing and eventually hooked up with Carly Simon, beginning what is now a twenty year relationship with the legendary singer/songwriter.
As the instrumental ending to “Do I Love You Too Much” concludes the singer switches hats with “Ida at the Back Door,” a tune that was already in circulation at online and college radio. This mix is fully developed and impressive, a different approach from the opening track, though there seems to be some kind of thematic undercurrent threading the material. “If My Heart Was Yours” opens with a nod to Ian Matthews notable Vertigo lp, If You Saw Thro’ My Eyes, then veers off to a soulful balladeer, think Cat Stevens’ “Here Comes My Baby,” with flamenco sounding guitar and – perhaps – Jay and the Americans dueling with Trini Lopez. It’s a great pop ditty that is highly commercial. The modulation and creative backing show Calo’s production skills at the top of their game.
That’s also true with “Elephants Never Forget,” a clearly Beatle-esque tribute to the family of Elephantidae. There’s a full dimension and depth to the sounds Calo prompts throughout the track. The five minute and three second “Sail Away” is a folk song which could have been written in the time of DaVinci or Christopher Columbus (15th and 16th centuries – their dates of birth and passing actually very close) – its timeless story plays today just as well, as does Leonardo’s works of art. “One Step Ahead of Crazy” brings things back to where “If My Heart Was Yours” started off, it’s as much a sequel as “Judy’s Turn to Cry” was to “It’s My Party” – and Peter Calo played with the late Lesley Gore, so maybe the idea was subliminally programmed. “Every Ordinary Day” and “Don’t Ever Go Away” are both over four minutes on this double-EP two songs shy of a full-length ten track disc. “Every Ordinary Day” would fit nicely on a television series – or real pop radio, not the stuff being passed off as pop radio in 2016.
The disc concludes with more magic that the Beatles could have used – the artist having worked on Julie Taymor’s Beatles soundtrack to her film Across the Universe (there’s a deluxe version, check it out) as well as his own instrumental tribute to the Fab IV. Paul McCartney should sing this one as “Every Ordinary Day” is an absolute bookend to McCartney’s “Another Day,” not in chord changes or melody, just in the beautiful approach. It’s a classy conclusion to a sophisticated new chapter in Peter Calo’s deep catalog of musical contributions.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.