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Jack Logan's Keeping His Day Job

Pop Beat: Despite raves for his 1994 debut album, 'Bulk,' the singer and songwriter isn't sure this is his ticket to success. His 'Mood Elevator' is due in stores Tuesday.

January 13, 1996|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jack Logan hasn't let a pair of rave notices from Rolling Stone go to his head.

Described by the magazine as "a master storyteller," the 36-year-old singer-songwriter from Winder, Ga., has no plans to quit his day job at Doraville Electric Motor Service, where he earns about $7.50 an hour rebuilding swimming-pool motors.

"I'm not taking out any big loans or anything," Logan says with a self-mocking laugh. "Everybody in the band is excited as hell, but at the same time we're thinking, 'This may not be the ticket out of this carwash, so let's hold on to our jobs.' "

But even as Logan sticks to a daily grind that includes a 60-mile commute to and from work each day, critical support for his music continues to grow.

Rolling Stone--which gave a four-star review to his 1994 debut album, "Bulk," a two-disc collection of home demos--recently checked in with rave No. 2, awarding another four stars to the more cohesive and professionally recorded follow-up, "Mood Elevator," which is due Tuesday from Medium Cool/Restless Records. (See review in Record Rack, F10.)

It's enough to make Logan, who recorded most of the first album in his kitchen and all of the second in a barn, a little dizzy.

"I cannot express to you how weird this is for me because I'm kind of getting up there [in age] and usually if somebody's going to get a break, it would have come before this," he says during a phone interview from his home. "I was more or less content to make music for fun because for me it's just like recreation more than something I have to do to bare my soul."

Logan's life began to change, ever so slightly, about 2 1/2 years ago, when his wry tales were uncovered by record producer and label executive Peter Jesperson, who discovered the Replacements in the 1980s and now runs the Medium Cool label in conjunction with Restless.

Jesperson, introduced to Logan's music through R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, asked Logan for some tapes, and after receiving an initial mailing of three 90-minute cassettes that included nearly 100 songs, he was inundated with some 600 tracks dating to 1979.

Jesperson picked out his 42 favorite songs for "Bulk," and in came a flood of critical acclaim. That led to several feature stories in major newspapers, a feature spot on NBC's "The Today Show" and an appearance on NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

"It's a Cinderella story," Logan says. "I try not to dwell on it too much. I'm kind of waiting till this little ride is over so I can kind of sit back and really savor what's happened, because if I think about it now, it will really wig me out.

"At this point, I'm just concerned about trying to make as many good records as they'll allow me to make before all this is taken away."

For "Mood Elevator," the Illinois-bred Logan reassembled his former band, Liquor Cabinet, and recorded 36 songs in 10 days last winter at a friend's farm in central Indiana. Seventeen tracks wound up on the album.

"I've got my little take on things," Logan says of the songs. "I try to be somewhat of a fiction writer so I can actually have some interesting things to write about. If it was just about my life, I'd have been done a long time ago."

Logan's life, though, continues to grow more intriguing, even if "Bulk" sold only about 14,000 copies despite the critical support.

Up next is another spot Thursday on "The Today Show," followed by brief tours in February and March that will include a March 6 date at the Troubadour. But first, of course, he had to clear the time off from work.

Engaged to be married in August, Logan has no plans to leave his blue-collar life behind.

"It's just not an option at this point," he says. "Despite all the great things people have written, we haven't sold many records. And you learn real quick that in this business, like any other business, that's what it boils down to."

Album Review: "Mood Elevator" will take you on a ride up or down. F10

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