This bad, old world gets exponentially better today, as Honey West releases Bad Old World (Readout Records), an explosive collection introducing a remarkable and unusual songwriting collaboration between unassuming British rock titan Ian McDonald, founding member of both Foreigner and King Crimson, and noted Shakespearean actor Ted Zurkowski, a pillar of New York’s theater community by way of world-renowned method acting haven The Actors Studio.
Though constructed on the fundamental foundation of two guitars, bass and drums, the mirthful music on Bad Old World – which multi-instrumentalist McDonald also produced – is sophisticated and multi-textured, thanks to the indispensable instrumental and compositional talents of McDonald, and the sly, knowing word craft of lead singer-guitarist and co-composer Zurkowski.
McDonald maintains that his songwriting partner’s cunning way with words was his raison d’etre for joining Honey West in the first place.
“Ted’s lyrics are very smart,” says McDonald. “I like smart lyrics, I like smart music. This ended up being a really good partnership.”
Aiding and abetting McDonald and Zurkowski in Honey West is a troupe of top-shelf musicians including drummer Steve Holley, whose credits include, among other notable artists, Paul McCartney & Wings, and McDonald’s son Maxwell on bass. Bad Old World also boasts a special guest appearance by Graham Maby (Joe Jackson, They Might Be Giants), who plays bass on several tracks.
The Album Launch Event is set for Wednesday, May 24 at Bowery Electric in New York City.
Premiering exclusively on Billboard.com, the self-deprecating first single, “Dementia,” is a perfect portal into the off-kilter world of Honey West, so named after the groundbreaking 1960s TV series about a sexy female secret agent. “Dementia,” the album’s closing track, is a tightly wound, foot-stomping, Saturday-night rocker highlighted by McDonald’s baritone sax – which originally left a memorable imprint on T. Rex’s iconic “Get It On (Bang A Gong).” But Zurkowski’s typically droll, self-deprecating lyrics elevate the song far beyond the typical party-hearty blueprint, and identify its creators as a rock ‘n’ force.
The high concept “Dementia” lyric video was conceived and directed by Maxwell McDonald, adding to his duties as the band’s bass player. Calling the lyric video “inventive,” Billboard.com said it “merits some attention when Ian McDonald gets excited about something.”
While McDonald’s formidable gifts as an instrumentalist, arranger and producer are front-and-center with Honey West on Bad Old World, they represent a new role for the artist who for decades has been revered as a musician’s musician – the one everyone else would check out … and envy! His sterling rock legacy has been primarily forged in the background as the “secret sauce” if you will, for a wide range of recordings which further extends to the likes of Kanye West, Ozzy Osbourne, April Wine, Angela Bofill, Herbie Mann, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nash the Slash, and beyond.
When Zurkowski’s intelligent and playful lyrics are blended with the musical aptitude of Honey West‘s co-composers, sonic sparks can’t help but fly. Not only is his background as a Shakespearean actor entrenched at The Actors Studio (unorthodox by music-world standards), it also indicates McDonald’s propensity for driving a bulldozer through convention.
As such, Bad Old World by Honey West has given rise to a new name in 2017 for peerless musicianship, a substantial, yet fun, lyrical point of view, and the kind of jump-from-the-speakers excitement which has always marked the best in rock music.
Bad Old World is available today on all major digital services, including iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, and Spotify.