In an effort to bring more awesome unknown and cult coolness to the masses, it’s time for another Milo’s Cult Favorites. This week I will be reviewing the rock concept album Black Ribbons. Black Ribbons is the concept album developed by Shooter Jennings, son of Waylon Jennings. Jennings, with his band Hierophant developed this album to be multi-genre, crossing into rock, country, and some pop. It is supremely adult-alternative and meta. From start to finish, this is a hard thumping yet at times sincere and thoughtful compilation of truly inspired music.
Now, like I said, the music is great. What makes this album incredible is the method in which it was conceptualized. The whole album is structured to simulate a radio broadcast. Nothing special, right? Wrong. This broadcast is the last broadcast of the free world. The story line of the broadcast is that at the end of the hour, the radio station broadcasting this music will, like all of the others, become government property and no longer be free for public use. In this world, military law has been established and all media outlets have been turned into propaganda machines.
What makes this even more of a treasure is the way the broadcast is done. It is done in the vein of the old rebellious yet philosophical radio jock and is done with in the spirit of freedom but also melancholy as freedom is no longer to be had and he knows it. Who voices this radio broadcast? A man by the name of Will ‘o’ the Wisp. Who voices this pirate captain on the sea of though control and brutality? Stephen King.
You read right, Stephen King as in the author of Salem’s Lot, Carrie, and It. Stephen King not only wrote but voiced the radio Will ‘o’ the Wisp and did so with hard cutting prose and insightful poetry of the mind. As with anything King writes, his contributions to this are masterful and literary. He finds way within this hour to drag you into the environment of the radio station and, by the end of it, you have forgotten that it isn’t just your radio. It is an eerie feeling but, it is only a testament to how good this is. It makes you feel like you are standing at the vanguard that separates the world we live in from the world George Orwell saw coming.
What I perhaps like most about this is the way that it makes me feel. I feel like it is real. The way that the music is arranged works so well with the solemn yet at times enraging or even melancholy words of King is nothing short of awe inspiring. The roller coaster of music and emotion is a powerful ride that is good start to finish. I suggest dedicating a long car ride or evening on the couch to it because it will suck you in and have you believing that you too are listening on as King puts it, “The last night of the last light.” I strongly recommend this to anyone who appreciates weird stuff, good music, or Stephen King. Below is a preview clip of King’s part in the broadcast. I hope you enjoy.