Friday, April 4, 2008

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Never Ever

(Stanton Park/Tangible, 1996)

If you’ve ever read my unwritten autobiography, Forty Years of Beard, you know that the lone source of joy in my otherwise disappointing life is baseball. And sometimes that gets in the way of my listening to and writing about all these crazy records. Like last night, when I went out to Yankee Stadium to see the Blue Jays lose instead of staying in and reviewing the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Or right now, when I’m following the end of a crucial Padres-Dodgers game instead of giving my full attention to “Never Ever.” Oh, wait; the Dodgers just won. Good news, I guess. Excellent job by Hiroki Kuroda. Now, this BJM single is certainly no seven-inning, three-hit, one-earned-run performance (I knew you could do it, Hiroki), but it’s still mighty fine. Middle of the rotation stuff for sure, maybe better. It’s a minimal, Spacemen 3-esque primal psych-guitar workout on “Never Ever” (which was previously released in a far different version – I’m on the fence about whether or not to consider it the same song at all – under the name Acid in 1993); imagine “Heroin,” musically, if it never built to any climax. A lovely womblike atmosphere. Very warm-sounding. “Feelers” is lo-fi raga-rock, moaning vocals and sitar giving it the oomph it needs to come off a success instead of just a silly toe-dip into mystical trippiness. Even if neither song is especially tight or brilliantly constructed, this record creates the most consistently satisfying and overtly psychedelic mood of any Brian Jonestown single, and I’m tempted to consider it more Tim Hudson than Jamie Moyer.

You collectors in the crowd should know that “Never Ever” is included on the CD version of Spacegirl, and “Feelers” is on Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request (in an extended alternate version; I actually prefer the single, which has a great droning keyboard part that isn’t present on the LP), so don’t sweat it too hard if you can’t find the 7”. Instead, sweat the fact that Kaz Matsui is on the disabled list with an anal fissure. Have you heard about life? It’s not so fair.

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