Martin Page - "Keeper of the Flame"

If today's artist ever wrote himself a PR blurb, it might read something like this:

Did you ever have a hankering to hear some Sting but were so disturbed by images of him and his wife, Trudie Styler, in various sexual positions, liberally incorporating the practice known as Tantra? Just wish you could hear his music and think of nothing and nobody actually playing it?

You do? Really?

Meet Martin Page.

Born in England, in 1949, Martin achieved fame and fortune as a pop-songwriter, writing smash hit after smash hit--songs like 'We Built This City' for Starship and 'These Dreams' by Heart. In fact, think of a song you consider the nadir of '80s pop music. Thought of it? There's a 90% chance Martin had something to do with it.

He is a former member of techno-pop group Q-Feel--not to be confused with Q-Lazarus--and enjoys the music of other cultures. That is to say, he really likes Paul Simon's Graceland and Peter Gabriel.

The title track off Page's 1994 album, In the House of Stone and Light, is an amalgamation of everything I hate about '90s Adult Contemporary. White guys playing music 'infused with world rhythms'--shorthand for having African singers and drums dubbed over your white-guy pop song--that sounds like something they'd put on the Pure Moods compilations and play at Pier 1 Imports.

Oh, and the lyrics. It's another New Aged themed song about spiritual concerns meant as something of an anthem for liberal white people who consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious". Driving home this vagueness are the only two specific references--the first to Mount Kailas, and the second to a "Havasupai shaman." Both references seem to be apropos of nothing.

Now...the Havasupai are a Native American tribe located in Arizona. They probably have a shaman, or spiritual guide, I guess. And Mount Kailas is a spiritual mountain in the Himalayas--far, far away from Arizona. At least be consistent with your vague spiritual references, man. Now we just feel insulted.

I like to think that, when he was writing this song, he had a checklist of New Age buzzwords to throw in and get people who do yoga and wear hemp clothes all excited. The people who like to say "I borrow from all religions." You know the type; they wear patchouli, eat raw foods, go to Yanni and Enya concerts, wear lots of hideous turquoise jewelry and run day spas. They talk about dogma and ask you what your sign is and have African masks on their walls that they're dying to tell you about.

Picture Tim Robbins in High Fidelity. That's them. They used to be called hippies, now they're just called weirdos or cult members. At least by me.

And they would eat this song (and video) right up.

He's even playing the bass like Sting. Give it up dude, we already have a Sting and God (or Havasupai shaman or Krishna or whoever) knows we don't need another. It's just embarrassing.

To be fair, as far as Sting rip-offs go, there have been worse. Sonically, it sounds almost perfect-- and it should. Page's album featured an all star cast of musicians totally embarassed to be there--Robbie Robertson played guitar and Phil Collins played drums, and that's just for starters.

Predictably, "In the House of Stone and Light" went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts, hit #14 on the Hot 100 and went all the way to #9 on the Top 40 chart.

And then came the inevitable follow up: "Keeper of the Flame." Why didn't you hear it? Maybe you did, it didn't do too poorly, reaching #14 on the AC charts, but there's also a distinct possibility that you thought it was the same damn song.

But there is one huge difference in this one, Page isn't singing about vague spiritual concerns, but rather, love. The song is basically about a guy who wants a girl to "know his name" and he explains that she will know it one day, when he is the "keeper of the flame," wherein her heart is the flame. Or maybe he's just going to burn her until she agrees to have sex with him, again, Page is incredibly--almost masterfully--vague.

Whereas the "Stone and Light" was a fine facsimile of Sting's music, "Keeper of the Flame" comes off as a really bland Peter Gabriel b-side. One that wouldn't ever end up on a compilation cause everybody, even Gabriel, would have forgotten the song ten minutes after recording it.

It ended there, with "Keeper" being the second and final single from the album and then...nothing. Complete silence from Martin.

For years, 50-year old hippies would sit in their "energy rooms" sipping their herbal tea, resting after their Kabbala exercises and discussing Harmonic Convergence and someone would inevitably ask, "Martin Page, what became of you? Did you find the Havasupai shaman? Was your soul cleansed?" And the room would fall to a mournful silence.

Mourn no more, creepy tree-huggers, cause he's back. That's right; Martin Page has recently (self) released a follow-up album titled--I kid you not--In the Temple of the Muse. One can only guess what lies beneath that gorgeous gold hued cover. The key to wisdom? The gateway to his soul? The path to a non-religious specific heaven? Maybe.

Or maybe it's just a bunch of crappy Sting rip-offs.

Download: Martin Page - In the House of Stone and Light
Download: Martin Page - Keeper of the Flame

Martin Page.com
Martin's MySpace


Anderson said...

I also will not rest until I lay down my head...

In the house of stone and liiiight.

PearlSnapMan said...

I have to say, your blog is pretty fucking fabulous. I'm digging it thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Pretty fabulous blog. Hasn't had a post since 2008.

Stephen Belden said...

Au contraire, mon frere...2009. Don't worry, we'll be coming back soon.

Anonymous said...

Vagueness is what allows for understanding and realization, Stephen. People who specify religious beliefs bind themselves to divisions from divinity. You may not understand that, and hopefully you will drop some of your ignorance someday about people, spirituality, and unseen forces that cannot be touched. Till then keep laughing, making fun, and being annoyed by the hippies, tree huggers, energy workers and all other "weirdos" that you dont feel to understand, or worse, THINK you do.

Hannah Messinger said...

If you knew how pretty Stephen's hair is, you wouldn't say shit like that to him.

Shadak Khan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shadak Khan said...

Screaming Laughin at such truthfulness inspite of diggin the song!! (>_<)...Who cares!!!!