A Walking Atomic Power Plant


Of the many mysteries bequeathed by Soul Deep Records to an ungrateful posterity, few are more baffling than Frederick Michael St. Jude’s 1977 album Here Am I.

It’s hard to imagine the Soul Deep team tolerating Frederick Michael’s urban androgyny and lachrymose, Bowie-esque caterwauling, let alone aiding and abetting it.

Did they honestly like it? Or did they simply anticipate the Who’s warning that “music must change,” and select this overwrought oddball as their bridge to the future?

We’ll probably never know. All we can say with reasonable certainty is that Frederick Michael St. Jude is a veritable Vesuvius of talent, and no one who hears him will forget the experience anytime soon.

Soul Deep’s liner notes have captured Frederick Michael’s appeal in exquisite detail:

Frederick Michael St. Jude transmits high voltage electricity to everyone with which he comes in contact. He can “turn-on” an audience just by walking on stage. What’s more amazing is that he has the power to electrify musicians in a studio and spark them into creative frenzy, as he does on this album.

Frederick Michael St. Jude is an imponerable [sic] but highly visible force of nature, who produces light, heat and a billion megawatts of Rock N’ Roll power.

What else can you say, the man is a walking atomic power plant.

Two songs should suffice to convince the average Doubting Thomas or Gloomy Gus that we are in the presence of Genius Salient and Ululant. The anti-modernist anthem About Yesterday details the psychopathology of everyday life in the Big City, where “you hate everyone you meet,” and “you learn to grind your teeth.”

In addition to the insurmountable mope-rock couplet “left alone to die/pardon while I cry,” this track introduces St. Jude’s most formidable stylistic innovation: the use of multiple vowel sounds at the end of phrases (e.g., “we’re not supposed to know about yesterdayyyyyeeeeowwwwuhh”). Once you get used to it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

Love You Anyway is even more startling. Over a robot-factory backing that’d be legendary if it had appeared on a Phew album, F.M. St. J. gnaws away at his own oversized soul like a dog trying to worry a mastodon bone. If you’ve read the booklet that comes with Joe E.’s Love Got In My Way, you’ll recall that Joe claims Soul Deep’s producers “worked pretty hard” to perfect his vocals. It’s exciting to consider the possibility that they took the same hands-on approach with the far more adventuresome and eccentric Fred Mike.

If you have any information about this artist (his real name, for instance), please drop us a line immediately!

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Adam on June 21, 2009 2:18 pm

    I think About Yesterday is my new favorite song! I’ve been listening to it constantly. I hope you are able to reissue this!

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