Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Citizen Cope -- The Clarence Greenwood Recordings

Citizen Cope, aka Clarence Greenwood, first appeared on my music radar last fall when our local radio station announced his concert. I didn't know anything about Citizen Cope or the music I was about to discover. I bought some tickets to a show at Dowe's on Ninth, a little jazz club that hooked up with WYEP to bring live artists to Pittsburgh's cultural district.

The place was packed and sizzling with anticipation. I was excited to hear a band that was voted one of the "Top 100" on Amazon and made Rolling Stone's "10 Artists to Watch" for 2004. I knew one song "Bullet and a Target." The opening chords caught my attention immediately with a driving drum beat, crooning reminiscent of Al Green, and catchy hand clapping. The rest of the show built momentum with most of the audience obvious fans that knew every word to every song.


His band is tight and they work around his repeated choruses with a magical backbone of Moog synth, cut to your gut pounding drums, and bass/lead guitars supporting Greenwood's acoustic strumming. The drummer had a really interesting skin on his bass made out of some heavy hide with a groovy painting I couldn't quite make out. It didn't matter; I was reveling in this band's awesome rich sound and Greenwood's interesting lyrical style.

His voice rises and falls, stumbling and connecting again, with chorus hooks you'll recall for months. I often find myself strolling through the grocery store or driving to the melodies of "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings" pouring through my brain. This is one of those bands that once you get that "Cope" vibe inside of your head, you just have to play the entire CD. It's infectious pop with an edge.

Clarence is a shy performer by nature. He starts with a quiet mumbling but by the end of the show, if people are singing along, he really lets loose. He does very few covers but they're memorable.

"Nite Becomes Day," the CD opener, sets the stage for the societal storytelling that fills this disc. Drugs, politics, murder, madness, spiritual resurrection, and fame. There aren't many artists that can sing 16 lines over and over again for more than five minutes and still capture your attention. Citizen Cope does this beautifully with "Sideways," arguably one of the most Googled Cope lyric searches (... these feelings won't go away, they've been knocking me sideways...)

His song "Son's Gonna Rise" sparked a lot of interest for him when it was featured on a Pontiac commercial in April, 2005. He has also made appearances on the late night talk show circuit. You can find many of his performances and videos using the link below.

I've seen his band perform three times now and I can't wait to see him again. If you're looking for something fresh for your CD player and like some hip hop rhythms, some reggae, and the occasional high-pitched Moog, I highly recommend this CD. If you want to check out his music first, go to
For what it's worth, his audience spans all ages, races, and sexes. He is not currently touring which hopefully means he's writing.


Blogger The Gentle Cricket said...

Great to see another Cope fan. Love the guy. I saw him a few months ago live, and he was excellent.

6:47 PM  
Blogger luv2cope said...

Citizen Cope is delicious! His sexy, soulful voice has dug it's roots into my soul and I'll never 'tire of listening to any of his work. On his "Contact" CD, try to listen to "Hands of a Saint". He simply mesmerizes me. God, I love that man!

1:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home