Mighty John Henry

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Dennis Gunn writes songs that sound as if your average three-chord rocker had been pulled in all directions like a ball of putty. Off kilter chords and unlikely lyrics shoot off at unexpected angles, yet somehow it all sticks together. Part of what makes it work is Dennis's twisted yet sympathetic humor on songs like Momma's killing Daddy, Naked Monkeys and Ken. Tada Makio's supremely heavy rhythms. An expat writing original rock, longtime Tokyo denizen Dennis is something of a ground breaker. Tokyoites will certainly recognize the sounds of their sometimes beloved sometimes hated city in his music.

--Dan Grunembaum

Tokyo Classifieds March 29 '97


Mighty John Henry

What a damn weird record this is, a dark carnival ride best left to those who appreciate twisted genius of the Zappa/Rundgren variety. Dennis Gunn sings like a man possessed over a loony warped circus soundtrack full of blatting off-key notes, spooky choruses and strange voices from out of nowhere - I kept thinking of some of those twisted old cartoons, the ones that look like the animators musta been shrooming with Dave Bellard for a few days before they picked up their pens.

But all is not freakish abandon in the world of Mighty John Henry. This album has single-handedly restored my faith in lyrics. Gunn's delicious puns and drop dead quips are a joy to any fan of words, and he couches his sharp observations on life in some of the most barbed witticisms I've heard - there's too many to cite here but if word play and intelligent prose are your cups of tea, Hot Air Head is a mandatory purchase.

Its completely out of left field sound and demented demeanor might scare off all but the most hardy. But for those who enjoy such delightfully fucked diversions (no, liking a couple of Primus songs does not qualify you) those traits will be what keeps em coming back, time and again. Weird, wild, wonderful stuff.

-Keith Bergman

The Glass Eye, October '97

Mighty John Henry, Hot Air Head

It may be called Mighty John Henry, but the band is primarily Dennis Gunn (although he is too modest to admit it). Gunn sings the vocals, plays the guitar, harmonica, pianica, banjo and bongos on this outing. If that isn't enough, he also mixed and mastered the entire CD (with a little help here and there). The topper? He did the CD cover art and designed the booklet as well. Clearly, Gunn needs a holiday. His music is most likened to Frank Zappa. Zany and cynical lyrics that somehow evoke smiles, sonically complex music that requires multiple listenings for thorough enjoyment. Song titles such as "Lie Factory," "Rats in the Cage of Reason" and "Pachinko Rebellion" pretty much give the idea. Gunn has a lot to say; some of it very important, much of it thought-provoking. Zappa would approve.

--Jim Merk

Tokyo Weekender April 97

MIGHTY JOE [sic.] HENRY -Hot Air Head

You'd never know from listening to MIGHTY JOE [sic again] HENRY that they are based in Tokyo. Definite BEEFHEART desciples and if this stuff is any indication of what's happening musically in Japan, I'm grabbing a plane ticket this weekend and checking out the local Tokyo dives.

STUBBLE music magazine, issue 20
Sample or buy Mighty John Henrys
hot air head
in the iTunes store
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