473. The Mercy Seat – The Mercy Seat


The Mercy Seat

Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes makes the first of two appearances on this list with his folk/funk/punk-Gospel tinged side project, The Mercy Seat. Lead vocalist Zena Von Heppinstall’s tight dress and husky Gospel alto vocals are juxtaposed against Gano’s quirky nasal tones and two beat country punk rhythms. The sheer joy of the musical expression in the opening track, a cover of the classic Gospel ditty, Let me Ride, is just too fun.

Gano’s previous propensity for Gospel themed lyrics takes full force spotlight here with the freedom to explore the world of gospel music within the framework of the Violent Femmes folk/punk musical arrangements. Von Heppinstall added four songs as well as the traditional Gospel covers. There is a constant creative use of “call and response” coupled with bluesy/funk and punk that gives an original and authentic feel to the project as a whole. There is never a moment when you think it’s a “joke” or “send-up” of Gospel music. Gano and company believe in what they’re doing here and the passion and believability shows.

I remember taking quite a bit of guff from customers for carrying this record while managing Maranatha Village. It was just way too good to be missed by the CCM buying public and still sound fresh, creative and fun over 20 years later. This is a serious AYSO!

  1. Shawn McLaughlin
    October 9, 2010 at 2:04 am

    I loved this album. Part of the 2500 pieces of vinyl that I sold in ’91. Crap!

    Oh…..and I loved Zena’s dress, too!

  2. Patrice Moran
    November 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    wow I
    I’m flattered. I was the original bass player of the Mercy Seat. One of the top 500 albums of all times, huh? Now I can die happy. 🙂

    • low5point
      November 3, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      I am honored you would even discover this little slice of the web. I LOVED the album. I carried it and the Violent Femmes stuff at my bookstore…raised a few eyebrows.

    • Jane Moorhead
      October 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      Hey Patrice,

      It’s Jane Moorhead! Remember me? Part of the gang from Willimantic Connecticut! God! I miss the Mercy Seat (especially the original group with you and Fernando). Where are you? I’m at jemoorhead@hotmail.com….email me sometime. Would love to chat with you. Zena is married now and living in New Jersey, commuting to NYC. We’re still in touch. Remember Cheryl? She is in Tennessee and taking care of tigers at a place called tigerhaven.com

  3. Jane Moorhead
    October 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    The Mercy Seat Saves!!!

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