Mark Batson: Infinite Kundalini
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It's tempting to think of the Batson/DMB collaboration as a gamble -- after all, Dave Matthews Band and Glen Ballard are likely each still smarting from Everyday. Mark Batson can ill afford a high-profile gaffe at this stage in his career, and Dave Matthews Band certainly doesn't want to stumble on their way down whatever new path that they're on. But the fact is that Batson probably can afford such a mistake -- Dave Matthews Band is a sufficiently mature group that they're not going to allow themselves to be bullied by a producer. Any errors on this album can be reasonably chalked up to a miscalculation on the part of Dave Matthews Band. It's for the same reason that the relationship is likely no great risk for DMB -- they're not about to release an inferior album because of the influence of a producer less experienced than they.
Perhaps the only risk here is that fans won't take to Batson, that they'll reject him as they did Ballard. But Batson's low-key personality, collaborative production style, rich musical background and old-school credentials make him a mighty hard guy to dislike. (It must be noted that, unlike both Mark Batson and Steve Harris, Ballard certainly never offered to do an interview with nancies.org.) While it's inevitable that some fans won't like Stand Up and will blame Batson for that, the right steps have been taken to minimize the possibility of a backlash.
If RCA's interest in presenting DMB to new audiences matches Batson's enthusiasm for doing so, Stand Up may prove the band's long-awaited launching point to international celebrity, much as it may prove Batson's long-awaited launching point to being a top-tier producer. Mark Batson and Dave Matthews Band have created for themselves a shared destiny, the same vanishing point on the horizon that, if all goes according to plan, they can help one another reach.
Mark Batson has one request for Stand Up listeners.
"Turn it up. Listen to it loud. Understand it emotionally."