Paul Mark and The Van Dorens

Paul Mark and The Van Dorens
Blood & Treasure

Radiation Records - (RDTN 5901)

By Georgetown Fats
April 2009

Receiving a great disk from an artist I would not have known about otherwise is the reason I got involved with the Boston Blues Society. Hipping readers to these extraordinary gems is why I continue to work for the Boston Blues Society. Paul Mark and The Van Dorens 7th release, Blood & Treasure on the Radiation Records label, is one of those disks which just makes me love my “work.”

Having received a copy of Paul Mark’s 2006 Trick Fiction release as part of a premium from the Bandana Blues Podcast ( I found Mark’s combination of groove-orientated blues rock with mildly sarcastic lyrics led to repeated spins of the disk at high volumes. When given the opportunity to review Blood & Treasure --- under the impression the review would write itself---I jumped at the chance.

I was mistaken. The review did not write itself. From the opening bars of “Everything Is Nothing,” there has been little time to write as I have caught myself singing to the choruses, laughing at Mark’s George Carlin-esque way with illustrating the absurdity of the human condition, and wondering why Paul Mark & The Van Dorens have not garnered absurd amounts of airplay. Blood & Treasure is not for blues purists; it is also not pop music for the great unwashed. The music is an ambitious musical ride through blues, rock, Americana, and soul by a trio that can nail down the multiple genres. The lyrics are often biting, sometimes humorous, but always genuine delivered with Mark’s enlightened hipster wit.

“Everything Is Nothing” is Paul Mark’s take on a love song. Over this shuffle-based groove, he literally places tongue in cheek when going into description of the level of his love. Mark’s innate New York sarcasm offers an additional layer to the tune.

“Don’t Get Me Started” offers an updated take on the classic Stax sound. Backed by a soul choir and the rich sounds of a B-3, Mark delivers a powerful ballad on a flagging relationship. On “Perp Walk” we are treated to more of the B-3 work, but in a tight funk groove. Once again Mark interjects his biting humor into the lyrics. The song is either a personal account of Mark running afoul of the law, or more observational humor on the media’s fixation on scandal. The tune closes with The Van Dorens slowly devolving their parts from the song, until all that is left is the hook being played on a child’s piano.

On “Lotta Things to Say,” the band offers up a raucous blues rock piece on the hazards of being an educated, opinionated extrovert. On “Feed The Machine,” the soul choir is back as Mark tells the tale on why the NYC-based indie Radiation Records is in existence. It is an unflattering look at ditching integrity for the shot at “the big time”.

At 10 songs and one instrumental, Paul Mark and The Van Dorens Blood & Treasure disk is an early favorite for a year- ending “Best of 2009” column. I highly encourage multiple purchases of the record. If you have any friends like mine, you will need a back-up copy of two when your Paul Mark and The Van Dorens disks are “borrowed” for extended periods of time. Be sure to check out their back catalog too, you will not regret it.

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