CD Review: John Brodeur “Tiger Pop Ten”

John Brodeur released his album Tiger Pop back in 2001. As hard as it may seem for some, it has been ten years since that album was released. With Brodeur knowing that the album was out of print, and with the ten-year anniversary of the release quickly approaching, Brodeur decided that he needed to release a ten-year anniversary edition of the album for those who had been asking about buying copies. With the ten-year mark having arrived, John Brodeur proudly presents Tiger Pop Ten, the special edition of the Tiger Pop album.

In order to give his album of Tiger Pop the treatment many people think it rightfully deserves, John Brodeur decided to create a package for the release that would give his followers, old and new alike, the chance to experience the album in a whole new way: For the 2011 release of Tiger Pop Ten, the listener gets two chances to check out these songs written by Brodeur that make up this special album- the 2001 original recordings of the songs and the new recordings made ten years later. The major difference between the versions is that John Brodeur and his band The Suggestions recorded the new versions of the songs, while Brodeur did the 2001 recordings on his own.

One thing that is evident almost from the first note of the 2001 version of Tiger Pop is that Brodeur is no ordinary one-man band: When most one-man bands lack talent in certain areas (i.e. drum playing), Brodeur seems to be able to hold his own on every instrument he plays. And on “solo” pieces like “Kitten” or “Peace” where it would be so very evident of the lack of talent on a particular instrument like a guitar or keyboard, no one would complain that Brodeur should have hired someone to help out on that instrument. To be able to hear the original recordings of Brodeur playing each song competently on his own before hearing the newer full-band recordings makes the 2011 version of Tiger Pop Ten that much more fascinating.

The first remake on 2011’s Tiger Pop Ten is “Infected”. “Infected” would be the song that seems to have changed the least of any of the songs that appear on the album. This is because, once again, Brodeur plays all of the guitar parts and the drums on the track. The only basic difference is that Keith Hosmer joins in on the track to add the bass and background vocals. The ten years between the original and the remake of this song inevitably helped to flavor and change the way Brodeur plays the song, and there is definitely some difference between the two versions; however, the difference is not really that noticeable.

While “Infected” is probably the track that contains the least amount of change from one version to the other, “Dying For Me” is probably the song that went through the most changes yet still contains its basic sound: The tempo has been slowed down ever-so-slightly, while the band added their own influences to the tune. Add to that the addition of string arrangements and this new version is just that- “new,” in a refreshing way.

Another song that sticks out because of the difference between the original and the new versions is the song “Kitten”. The original version of “Kitten” was just a two-minute song with Brodeur and his guitar. Ten years later, the first minute or so of the song has been built up with Brodeur playing in harmony with the bass. Then after the original track would have ended, the rest of the band joins in and rocks the song up.

“Easier” could “easily” be described as the one song on the 2011 version of Tiger Pop Ten that sounds nothing like the original song: The 2001 version of the song was just a normal pop/rock song; the new version with its space-y keyboard intro, however, sounds like it could have come off of David Bowie’s The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album. Definitely psychedelic, for sure.

One of the best remakes of the entire release is “Peace”. When taken off of the 2001 version, the song is a simple song with a lullaby feel to it. Taken off of the 2011 version, the song has a feel that is extremely reminiscent of Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity,” complete with an arrangement that sounds like the late Michael Kamen’s orchestrations from that song. To achieve that sound, Adrien Cohen did a great job of arranging the strings for that song, as well as for other songs on the 2011 release.

The major difference between the 2001 and 2011 versions of Tiger Pop is the fact that the 2011 version is longer: The song “Masterpiece” was a song that could have been included on the original release, had Brodeur completed it in time for inclusion on the album; as it was, the song was completed just a little late and was not included. To make amends for “Masterpiece” not appearing on the original album, Brodeur showcases the song by placing it first on the 2011 version of the album.

With Tiger Pop Ten from John Brodeur, you get to hear where he started and you also get to hear what he sounds like today. For someone just discovering John Brodeur, this is the perfect place to start.