Friday, 29 November 2013

Album of the Week #4

Artist: The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Album: Take It From The Man!
Year: 1996
Label: Bomp! Records

It's sometimes easy to forget just how bloody amazing this album actually is. Beyond the antics of Dig!, the documentary charting the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhols rivalry, the BJTM managed to release three, yes, THREE stunning albums over a 12 month period- and this was the pick of them.

Take It From The Man! is like the band have taken everything that was great about 60s British music: rock & roll, drugs and chaos, added their own unique brand of chaos, locked themselves in the recording studio for a couple of months and out came this. It's a mess, it's a glorious mess.

But the songs are remarkably strong. Your favourite song on the album will most likely coincide with your favourite riff - and there's riffs aplenty here. Straight Up and Down now trademarks Boardwalk Empire, whilst the 11-minute version is a rarity in that it genuinely never feels like an eleven minute song. It's a suitably epic conclusion to an album that rarely loses any momentum from the first track onwards.

The band absolutely tear through 60s numbers that recall the Stones at their riotous best, The Kinks at their delicate best and The Troggs at their, well, just The Troggs. They wear their influences on their sleeves - (David Bowie I Love You) Since I Was Six and My Man Syd are two example titles - but it never turns into a lazy pastiche of music that, lest we forget, is around 50 years old now.

Instead, the BJTM use that time period as a template and expand upon it. The sprawling Cabin Fever or the, sorry to mention it again, glorious closing track Straight Up and Down span over 7 and 11 minutes respectively- it's a snapshot of what these 60s bands might have sounded like in the modern day. Who?, B.S.A. and Mary, Please are similarly euphoric nuggets of raw, rifftastic, garage rock brilliance. There's not a studio trick in sight, and it's all the better for its simplicity.

If you've never heard of this album, check it out. If you love it, rediscover it. If you've never been convinced by it, give it another go. It's a set of 18 tracks that is pretty damned hard to dislike.

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