Boiled In Lead – Songs from The Gypsy


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The Gypsy is a novel by Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm, a cycle of songs by Brust and Adam Stemple, and now, an album by Boiled In Lead.

Songs From The Gypsy features nine Stemple-Brust originals (inspiration for the novel) and a traditional Hungarian Gypsy tune. The music ranges from direct one-take acoustic performances to tube-driven distortion-laden rockers, from ethnic dances to gutty blues.


Ugros (Springtime)

Tech Note

Gypsy was released in 1995 as an i-trax (TM) CD, with multimedia content including the entire text of the novel, soundbites from the songs quoted in the text, and some additional material. However, it’s nearly impossible to make the e-book work properly on computers that are newer than Windows95 or Mac OS9. The data is stored on “track zero” and has been superseded by the “enhanced CD” standard. Caveat computor. If you really want to have a look, contact us.)


NPR’s All Things Considered

January 29, 1996

Intro: Boiled In Lead, a folk/rock band based in Minneapolis has a new
album called “Songs from the Gypsy.” Anne Williams has this review.

Boiled In Lead has been bringing folk music to a rock audience since 1983.
Through the years and several personnel changes, the group has evolved from a
band which featured mostly rocked out versions of Irish music to a premeire
world music band. Boiled In Lead is known for its innovation in combining
rock, folk and a variety of music from around the world in one piece. Most of
the material on the new album called “Songs from the Gypsy” was
written by Adam Stemple and Steven Brust.

(song: The Gypsy)
This album takes the listener on a fairy tale journey. The characters were
taken out of a old Hungarian folk tale and set loose through these songs in our
modern world. After the songs were performed for a while in the Minneapolis
area, writers Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm were inspired to write a full
length novel, based on the characters in these songs. This album is the
soundtrack to that novel, “The Gypsy.” Raven, Owl and Dove are the
three gypsy brothers.

(song: Raven, Owl, and I)
The songs introduce the listener to the characters and some plot lines. In
the beginning of the novel and songs, the gypsy brother, Dove, finds himself in
a snowy Ohio winter. He is faced with many challenges. He loses his memory,
is accused of murder and has lost his two bothers, Raven and Owl. Other
lively characters from the novel are introduced in the song cycle: a fortune
teller, the police on the murder case and the gypsy’s arch-enemy, ironically
named “the Fair Lady.”

(song: The Fair Lady)
Boiled In Lead’s name may sound medieval, but their songs don’t. The group
cranks some of these tunes through tube driven distortion; others are
completely acoustic. As in previous projects Boiled In Lead adds blues riffs
and heavy metal guitar licks to the music to create a smorgasbord of sounds and
feelings. True to its folk nature the band adds a Hungarian traditional tune
brilliantly played by Josef Kessler.

(song: Ugros [Springtime])
Excellent musicianship and a twist on folk music makes each project that
Boiled In Lead releases a full meal for listener’s ears. This CD also involves
the eyes since the owner can put it into an IBM or MAC computer and read along
with the CD ROM version of the novel, “The Gypsy.”

Boiled In Lead has given us many firsts. This multimedia, folk CD –
complete with an interesting mix of graphics, text and music – maintains Boiled
In Lead as one of the most innovative world beat bands today.

Anne Williams hosts a folk music show at member station WYSO, in Yellow
Springs, Ohio.

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Medio Multimedia Magazine

June 1995
(Producer’s note: CD manufacturers have developed a hybrid
between audio CDs and CD-ROMs called the CD-Plus, which run interchangably in
audio players and CD-ROM units. Look for coverage of the growing phenomenon in
the August issue of Medio Magazine.)

By JON SINGER, Medio Magazine

Boiled In Lead “Songs from ‘The
Gypsy'” (Omnium Recordings)

Boiled in Lead is a vanguard Worldbeat group. “Songs from ‘The Gypsy’,”
their fifth CD release and sixth album overall, cooks. But then, Boiled in Lead
always cooks. The band has been around for twelve years, through various
personnel changes, and now consists of Drew Miller (the remaining original
member) on bass and dulcimer, Robin “Adnan” Anders on drums, Josef
Kessler on fiddle, and Adam Stemple on guitar and vocals.

With one exception (“Ugros (Springtime)”, a traditional Hungarian
melody), the songs on this album are by Adam Stemple and Steven Brust. Brust is
one of the authors of “The Gypsy,” the book to which the album ties.
(The other is Megan Lindholm, who has written a number of excellent fantasy
novels, including “Wizard of the Pigeons.”) Brust is no stranger to
Worldbeat: he was the drummer of Cats Laughing, another Minneapolis-based band.
He’s no stranger to fantasy fiction, either, having written a few too many
novels to list here.

“Songs from ‘The Gypsy'” is not exactly a departure, but if you’ve
heard only “From the Ladle to the Grave,” you’re in for at least a
few surprises. Adam Stemple’s vocals are sometimes smooth and sometimes
gruff-and-gritty. They and his guitar work are just the right amalgam for this
sound. Only some composer/performers can write songs that they themselves should
perform; Stemple is clearly one who can. Josef Kessler’s fiddle swoops, floats,
croons, begs, demands, and screams. His dynamic range is just outstanding. Drew
Miller’s solid basslines and Robin Anders’s astonishingly versatile percussion
are the rock upon which all of this is built, the long-term guts of the group.
(Anders has been with BiL almost since the beginning.)

In addition to BiL’s extremely welcome sound, the CD-ROM portion of the disk
includes the entire text of “The Gypsy.” Every place in the book where
a song is referred to, there’s a pointer to a sound file, and the disk contains
both QuickTime for the Mac and QTW for Windows. In all, 92 megabytes of data are
here for your delectation on either major platform, to say nothing of the music.
The price, by the way, does not reflect the extra material — this album sells
for a regular music-CD price.

Copyright 1995, Medio Multimedia, Inc. Portions Copyright The Associated
Press, All Rights Reserved. Portions Copyright The Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

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Music Reviews Quarterly

Spring 1996

Songs From the Gypsy

Performed by Boiled in Lead

First I heard the music, and it’s great. I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that
Boiled In Lead is a Celtic-based rock band, and I was thoroughly impressed with
the total sound, aggressive and full-bodied but controlled enough to show the
talent behind the energy. Some blues, some folk, and some fine rock and roll
including one of the best long songs to come along in a while. That song – the
title cut – is eight minutes of pure rock and roll buildup centered on some
perfect Neil Young guitar stylings that provide plenty of firepower. By itself
it’s worth the price of admission; in combination with nine other good songs,
the bargain is sealed, even if it is a soundtrack.

Weeks later I finally read the liner notes and learned that this wasn’t a
soundtrack after all – it is a “booktrack.” These songs were written
to accompany a book titled, obviously, The Gypsy. The explanation also indicated
that what I assumed was Celtic is actually meant to be Hungarian; I’m okay with
that. The liner notes, in the end, were interesting but not so interesting that
they added significantly to the value of the disc.

But then… I noticed a little note on the back that said there was
multimedia available on the disc, so I popped it into the computer, and all of a
sudden I had direct access to each song, the lyrics, notes, and … the story!
It’s a smooth, easy-to-use system that incorporates the lyrics into the text
along with the accompanying sound clip. It’s clever, it’s well-implemented, and
it’s the first thing of its kind I’ve seen. To see how the lyrics tie into a
story is the perfect use of the capabilities of multimedia. It’s like seeing
into the artist’s mind and seeing all the surrounding material that goes into
the creation of the tighter, more cryptic lyrics.

Music is literature when it’s done well, and to combine music with a
standard literary form like the novel is an exciting step. If you don’t own an
MPC or Macintosh computer, the dual format of “The Gypsy” won’t mean
much to you yet, but if you do or if you upgrade, the complete package is truly
impressive. However, just as a sound disc, it’s also excellent. From the sheer
sonic quality of the recording itself to the quality of the songs and
performances, it’s a powerful piece of work. Get “The Gypsy” for the
music first, but if you have a compatible computer, don’t waste time booting it
up on your computer screen.

Key Personnel: Josef Kessler – fiddle; Adam Stemple – guitar, vocals; Robin
Anders – percussion; Drew Miller – bass, dulcimer.
Produced by: Adam Stemple
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CMJ (College Media Journal)

New World Music, August 7, 1995
By Cliff Furnald

Summer Shorts: The stream has been overflowing its banks, with more
plastic, good, bad, and indifferent, pouring through the mail slot than any
other summer in memory. Hence, I would be remiss if I didn’t make room for a
numbner of good records that might otherwise pass you by.

BOILED IN LEAD has always had a spilt personality, part Mustaphas
worshippers, part heavy metal band, part Celt folk rockers. The group’s
much-awaited new album (actually an album/novel/CD-ROM) is no less confused, and
no less wonderful for the confusion. Hard Balkan rock gives way to American
blues, Irish jigs, and then back into the fuzz box zone. Songs From The
(Omnium, P.O. Box 7367, Minneapolis, MN 55407) is based on the novel
by Steven Brust, a songwriter in his own right, and the mix here is unique. Now
if they can only explain to me how to get the CD-ROM part to work!

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LEO (Louisville Eccentric Observer)

Louisville, KY, August 2, 1995
Music DISCussions
By Cary Stemle

Songs from the Gypsy, Boiled in Lead (Omnium). Here are the essential
elements of Boiled in Lead: four white kids from Minneapolis, hard rock, world
music, punk, folk. Guitars, fiddles, electric dulcumer, Egyptian instruments.
Rags, reels, Bosnian folk tunes in 13/8 time. Two recent albums: the CD-i Gypsy
and 1994’s Antler Dance, the latter including a demonized version of “State
Trooper” from Springsteen’s Nebraska. The writing and playing are
uniformly taut. The singer’s name is Stemple, which, according to my cousin’s
genealogy charts, means we may be related. (So maybe you don’t need to know
that.) More important, BiL will attempt to achieve alchemy Aug. 8. At the

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Dirty Linen

Issue #58 — June/July 1995
By Michael Parrish (St. Charles, IL)

Boiled in Lead
Songs From The Gypsy
Omnium OMM2013 (1995)

Boiled in Lead are the latest Celtoid group to jump on the science
fiction/fantasy book tie-in, with this set of tunes “associated with”
The Gypsy, a novel by Stephen Brust and Megan Lindholm. Brust was
singer-guitarist Adam Stemple’s bandmate in another aggregation, Cats Laughing,
and all the songs on the album save one are Stemple-Brust compositions. Compared
to the Pangean venturings of previous BiL albums, The Gypsy’s roots seem firmly
planted in the British Isles, with a short detour into the Balkans on the fiddle
instrumental, “Ugros.” They sound a lot like unplugged Tull on pieces
like “Raven, Owl and I” and “No Passenger,” then rock with
fiery intensity on “Leanan Sidhe.” Stemple is a flexible and
expressive (if a bit gruff) singer and a fine guitarist, whether he’s playing
funky blues riffs on “The Gypsy,” or an electric meltdown as at the
end of “Hide My Track.” The album’s tunes do form a song cycle of
sorts, apparently about some urban outlaw of the future, but they don’t entirely
make sense out of the context of the novel. The project is an enjoyable BiL
release, but I’d like to hear a bit more from fiddler Josef Kessler and
percussionist Robin Anders (who seems to be absent on several tracks on The
Gypsy) next time out.

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Consumable Online

issue 42, june 8, 1995
REVIEWS: Recent Omnium releases
By Jon Steltenpohl

Boiled in Lead – Antler Dance and Songs from the Gypsy

When something achieves “cult” status, it’s due to the fact that
despite greatness, the general public hasn’t had the chance to experience it.
Such is certainly the case with Boiled in Lead. For over 10 years, Boiled in
Lead has been one of Minneapolis’s beloved live bands, but it has been hard for
them to break away from their regional status. This is a shame because their
mix of traditional American tunes, world rhythms, and rock anthems deserves a
much larger audience.

1994’s Antler Dance is an eclectic mix of “good ‘ol fiddle”
tunes, Bulgarian dances, and bar songs a la the Replacements. What is most
impressive about Antler Dance is that no matter what style is being
tackled, Boiled in Lead pulls it off as if all they played was that type of
music. It takes a few listens before Antler Dance really takes ahold,
but once it does, you’ll know it.

Songs from The Gypsy is a CD-ROM and album in one. The CD-ROM portion
is the book, The Gypsy, is a dark, mystical tale of a gypsy and a series of
mysterious crimes. The album contains songs that were co-written by Boiled in
Lead’s lead singer, Adam Stemple and the co-author of The Gypsy, Steven
Brust during the same period that the novel was written.

The album features a side of Boiled in Lead that comes close to a
classic rock sound. Shades of Mason Proffit and the Allman Brothers merge with
the Boiled in Lead sound in a refreshingly new style. Songs from The Gypsy
is perfect for the music lover who likes classic roots rock but is tired of
hearing the same old songs. Boiled in Lead animates and adds soul to every note
and tune they play no matter what the style. They are a rare treasure.
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