In the mid-1980s there were few local bands that commanded as much attention and respect as Street Pajama. With original rock with a funky groove and jazz twist, their shows displayed an urban swagger that made it hard to believe they were a homegrown affair. They recorded and toured and played all the local dives, finding success but eventually giving way to more affordable electronic rhythm sections and the clubs' desire for cover bands.
Fronted by Merle (now Lane) Harmon and Mikey King, Street Pajama recorded three solid albums at Westwood Studios, where Harmon connected with co-owner Roger King. Ironically, as their relationship blossomed (they eventually married), they stopped making music. Now, 25 years later, Harmon and King, along with guitarist Tom Dukes, have produced a significant work that defies easy description.
A mostly acoustic album, this is a rich collection of melodies, moods, textures, lush harmonies and top-notch musicianship. Expertly arranged and executed, Souls of Castelmuzio comes across as what used to be known as a concept album. While this may not have been the intent, many of these songs play out as reflective snapshots, portraits and novellas. Also included are two Street Pajama chestnuts, "No Pajamas" and "No Gold in Jersey."
Reverie performs with the Artifact Dance Project at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 11, at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, 1713 E. University Blvd. Tickets are $20 at souls.brownpapertickets.com. Info: artifactdanceproject.com.