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Bargain Bin Babylon: Lori Jacobs: Everything’s Jake!

Bargain Bin Babylon: Lori Jacobs: Everything’s Jake!

Everything’s Jake!, uncovered in its original condition in a dingy record store outside Detroit, was ultimately worth the price of admission.

One of the many drawbacks living far from the nearest major metropolitan area is the lack of quality record stores to peruse at one’s leisure. Having lived in big cities previously and had the chance to take in the dozens of brick and mortar stores still populating a given area, you tend to get a bit spoiled when you move somewhere lacking record stores, plural. With but one local record store to check out, you tend to miss out on the variety encountered in major markets, either through a more diverse socio-economic cross section of society or proximity to major music markets, studios and labels. In other words, there aren’t many one-offs, private pressings and long forgotten bits of esoterica readily available.

And while the internet has managed to bring nearly every conceivable lost and forgotten title within a few keystrokes, it simply does not compare with the physical act of sifting through the stacks in a moldering record store hoping to find buried treasure. Fortunately, being so far from any major metropolitan area also means that, through work, one is afforded the chance to travel to said big cities and peruse the local record stores. Of course, there’s always the issue of trying to find the best way to bring back any purchases deemed worthy, but that’s more of an afterthought, one considered well after the initial rush of the search has worn off.

Of course the majority of these stacks house little more than the usual cadre of classic rock, easy listening (how many records did Herb Alpert sell, anyway?) and what used to pass for popular music but now mostly sits rotting away in your grandparents’ basement. But every so often you stumble across something that catches your eye, something you’ve never seen before, never heard of, something for which you have absolutely no contextualization save the cover image and whatever liner notes may be present.

Coming across the dead-eyed stare of Lori Jacobs, with her disco-era perm and bizzaro album title, one can’t help but stop and consider this curio. Finding no information in a cursory search on one’s smartphone furthers the mystery, adding a heretofore unknown level of intrigue to this curious artifact from a forgotten era. Is it the work of an outsider genius? A private press curio that holds the secrets of the universe? Something far more sinister? What’s going on with this lady and what the hell does Everything’s Jake! mean? Is Jacobs a crazy stalker ex-girlfriend still pining for the titular Jake? Is it a regional expression who’s meaning has long since been lost through the passage of time? What the hell is this thing?

Intrigued by the unsettling black and white glamour shot of the cover, a quick scan of the album’s credits furthers the overall level of intrigue. Okay, so it’s a local production (the Detroit area), and – what’s this? – funk guitar great Dennis Coffey played on the album? Other notable session players from the area? Surely, this must be some lost masterpiece sitting here awaiting my discovery, an album who’s true genius was simply awaiting my arrival, sitting quietly knowing full well it was about to change my very perception of music. Surely, this must be something amazing.

Well, sometimes it’s better to just speculate rather than explore. When the needle drops, the record proves to be little more than milquetoast, sub-Helen Reddy warbling set against MOR strings and standard late-‘70s instrumental backing. Yes, sometimes it’s best to project one’s hopes and dreams for an album onto said album based solely on the cover image alone as, when faced with the reality of the material, it generally leads to little more than disappointment. In the case of Everything’s Jake!, there’s really nothing more to discuss beyond the cover image and the presence of Coffey. It’s a mildly pleasant, ultimately harmless batch of late-‘70s pop, light country and syrupy ballads.

Ultimately, Everything’s Jake! begs the question: what the hell were guys like Coffey doing on this record? Was this a favor to somebody’s girlfriend? A vanity project? A drug deal gone wrong? Further research shows Jacobs to have recorded an album, Free for Capitol in 1973. Beyond this, there’s not a whole lot save this bizarrely titled 1978 release. There’s not too much more to the story, and Everything’s Jake! forgoes liner notes in favor of sparse packaging and limited details. This, coupled with the disappointing, pleasant but ultimately forgettable music contained within the grooves, makes what could have been an amazing discovery little more than a mild regret.

But oftentimes it’s the hunt itself that proves most satisfying. And in the case of Everything’s Jake!, uncovered in its original, unmolested condition in a dingy record store outside Detroit, the enigma of the cover was ultimately worth the price of admission. And while it’s apparent why this was the last identifiable release by Ms. Jacobs and the one and only album credited to the Neostat Music Co., it’s the potential and mystery behind it that makes it intriguing. That it ultimately isn’t even remotely interesting does little to diminish the impact of the awkwardness of the cover shot. If nothing else, it’s a lovely little bit of WTF absurdity. That said, “That’s What You Say” is a pretty damn great song.

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