CD Review – Bodhisattva: Down On The Dream by Rob Wcislo
As I’m sitting here writing my second sunny summer magic pool-side CD review at world renowned Carol Fosters, I’m wondering if a singer/songwriter’s style and compositions are any indication of their record collections. If true, then Rob Wcislo obviously has a special section of vinyls for the likes of Robert Plant (think “Going to California,” off of Led Zeppelin IV, 1971, Atlantic), Joe Walsh (think “Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get,” 1973, ABC-Dunhill), with just a twist of Perry Ferrell (think Jane’s Addiction at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC 1993 doing “Jane Says”). An eclectic combination of the then and now, Rob brings it all together in his 2011 CD titled “Bodhisattva: Down On The Dream.” The name sake of the Buddhist enlightened one, this CD encapsulates the highlights of the past fifty years of our greatest musical influences, including none other than the impeccable John Hiatt (think “Mr. Stanley,” from Crossing Muddy Waters, 2000, Vanguard).
Opening with “It Can’t Get Any Better,” Rob slams home a classic R&B tune about what the enlightened one finds upon reaching the pinnacle of the mountain top. He then slides down into the light, island-reggae beat of “You’re So Beautiful,” a declaration of a true Bodhisattva’s capacity to find the light in everyone. But track three takes an unexpected turn with the Charlie Daniel’s influenced “Hyptonized Again,” a Mahayanish transcendence into New York nights where things get a little bit weird in the hurricanes. So you see, Rob Wcislo is not your singer/songwriter of everyday expectations. Rather he aspires and conspires to bring out the Bodhisattva that enlightens the music in all of us.
Never afraid of taking his acumen into uncharted territory, Rob goes on to tackle and answer one of rock and roll’s most definitive moments: Harry Nielsen’s “One is the Loneliest Number” (1968, RCA). For over half a century, Nielsen’s near operatic aria for the desperation and despair of living in singularity has stood resolute and devoid of salvation. Yet, with the flick of a wrist, the Bodhisattva calls out with “You’re Never Gonna Be Alone” if you know yourself. How much simpler a solution could the enlightened one give to those stranded within the night of their own lives?
And if U2’s Bono is sprinkled into the opening lines of “Feel the World Explode,” and Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam hover about the edges of “Angry Sky,” it’s only the Bodhisattva’s way of taking us on an all day barbeque to dance around the fire like we never will again. For it’s the Theravada within the enlightened one that takes us back to the angst of our youths, then returns us once again to finally close with “Take Me With You,” where we’re just gonna fade anyway, so get on your way.
Ultimately, Buddhist mysticism declares that the Bodhisattva must pass through fourteen bhumis stages to attain ultimate being. With this CD, Rob Wcislo has given us the first baker’s dozen of bhumis in these thirteen tracks. Perhaps we will await his next CD to take the final leap. In the meantime, be sure to get your share of enlightenment when Rob Wcislo plays O’Malley’s Ocean Pub (www.omalleysoceanpub.com) this coming Friday, July 27th, starting at 9:30 pm.