Saturday, April 5, 2008

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Prozac Vs. Heroin

(Limited Addition, 2003)

There was a lot of action in the seven years between this and the group’s previous 7” in 1996: Five albums, two mini albums, four 12”s, two CD EPs, a few record labels, and a busload of band members hired and fired. The BJM seemed tired and directionless on its first post-TVT album, Bravery Repetition and Noise, and the poorly-attended shows I saw around that time had me wondering if the end was nigh. So maybe my expectations had been lowered, but I was genuinely excited by this single when it came out – seemed like a real comeback. And heck, it still sounds fantastic six years later, the music energized and carefully assembled. “Prozac vs. Heroin” is a moody, surprisingly stately mini-epic, its echo-y backing vocals and beautifully layered guitars giving it a denser, richer sound than most prior Brian Jonestown material. The B-side, “Nailing Honey to the Bee,” is even better, a return to the driving Between the Buttons-style rock of Give It Back!, but with tighter playing and more attention to loud-soft dynamics. One of their catchiest songs, and a decent approximation of the BJM’s live sound in those days. There’s a cutesy vinyl surprise here as well, as the B is a double groove that also features “The Pregnancy Test,” a gently spaced-out keyboard-loop instrumental quite different from the band’s usual attack. Really: a great single then, and a great single now – this lineup very much had it together, and the concerts and album (…And This is Our Music, which repeats “Prozac” and “The Pregnancy Test”) that followed were supremely enjoyable. Yeah, it fell apart soon after with the release of the Dig movie and Newcombe’s annoying descent into total onstage self-parody – not to mention a couple of sub-par records – but this is one of their best, and is as “must-hear” as anything in the group’s intimidatingly-large catalog.

1 comment:

Donald Brown said...

Yeah, and this is when I signed on thanks to that free show at BAR that you got me to go to. Thanks for that! I liked "...and this is our music" and am glad to hear it was not a bad introduction to the band, which seemed to be in gear 'n' all. I remember there were like five or six Rickenbacker guitars playing at once and boy was I happy about that!