Frederick Michael St. Jude
Million Dollar Performances
We love the music of Florida’s Frederick Michael St. Jude, even though he’s only released two albums over the last four decades, and those two records really weren’t known about until the past decade. His debut album, Here Am I, came out on a tiny label in 1977, and his second album, the apocalyptic concept album Gang War, would only be released thirty years after its completion. Thus, it was quite a surprise to learn of Almost Lost, a collection of unreleased material recorded after his first album’s release.
These songs were recorded at SRS International Recording Studio, although unlike Here Am I, were never fully arranged. That album’s production was lush and full, pampering Frederick’s David Bowie-like voice with arrangements, resulting in an album that sounds not unlike an otherworldly Scott Walker-on-a-budget. Almost Gone’s songs are bare-boned, but what’s amazing is the songs aren’t lesser because of it. Opener “Day Quite Like Today” is a potent rocker highlighted by Frederick’s powerful voice, which shines through the otherwise muddy-sounding arrangements. But it’s when he gets bluesy on “I Simply Love You,” “Babe, Ya Let My Hand Go,” and “It’s Not Easy” that Almost Lost really thrills; you realize that he could have been a bluesman had he decided to pursue that style of music. The final two tracks, “Everybody’s Gone Away” and “Cecilia,” follow in that same style, but aren’t quite as enticing; they’re raw and they’re interesting, but they don’t feel as fully formed as the rest of the album.
Frederick Michael St. Jude is a unique personality and is a man who has lived an interesting life. Though his musical output has been quite limited, what he has released has never been anything less than outstanding, and even if it’s just a sliver of songs, Almost Lost is a welcome addition to his tiny discography.