Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Jesus Lizard - Head

This band's first four albums just got reissued/remastered but I haven't bought or heard them yet. Last night I just got the urge to throw on my trusty shitty little old fashioned CD copy of Head and let me tell you, this is still an absolutely monstrous record in non-remastered compact disc form.

Goat and Liar are the closest things the Lizard has to acknowledged rock canon classics, but Head, the first LP cut by what pretty much everybody will tell you is the "definitive" incarnation of the band, already finds them balls deep in their signature sound, playing styles, and compositional abilities. There was a time when I suspected that this would be the sound of a band "not quite there," but no, in 1990 they most certainly were there and nowhere else.

While the set of songs here is not as breathtakingly perfect as the nine tracks that make up Goat, this is still an album where more than half the songs are highlights, of Head and of the Lizard's career. "One Evening" is as wonderfully bombastic as any of their album openers. Make your way to a Lizard show before they disappear forever yet again and observe just how pumped up the audience gets when they realize the band up on stage just launched into that song or "7 vs. 8" or "S.D.B.J." And who can forget the heart crumbling slow burner "Pastoral," one of the finest moments in Duane Denison's life as a riff shitting guitar god? You can't get this one anywhere else, not even from "Zachariah" or in the lines of an "Elegy."

Back in the days following the punk/post-punk explosion, one had to wonder if anything new really could have been done with the basic drums + guitar + bass formula. Wipers, Minutemen, Flipper, Black Flag, Big Black, The Birthday Day... these groups were balancing elements so simply and originally that the legions of bands that followed in their collective wake were able to sculpt these elements towards truly next level heights, much like how the blueprints laid out by Chuck Berry, The Stooges, and Black Sabbath would be worshiped and built upon. Maybe back in the day people were saying that the Jesus Lizard "sounded like the Birthday Party," but now we look at modern noise rock bands and say that they "sound like the Jesus Lizard." They got everything right on the first Long Player. And yet they still stuck around to get things righter on the next one. God bless these kings of rock 'n roll.

Rating: ****1/2

Download Link: "7 vs. 8"


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