Review Summary: The Jesus Lizard were an exceptional band, and they have a good amount of records to prove it. Goat serves as a perfect introduction, and its quality doesn't wear off at all.
At some point in 1987, my parents arranged for me to stay at a buddy's house and went conceiving my brother.
At some other, almost equally important, point in 1987, the Jesus Lizard were formed.
THE JESUS LIZARD:
(references: thejesuslizard.net, markprindle.com/jesuslia.htm, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jesus_Lizard)
Duane Denison - Guitar
David Wm. Sims - Bass
David Yow - Vocals
Mac McNeilly - Drums
Out of the ashes from Scratch Acid, a band I would probably go all elitist about if I had actually heard any of their stuff, the Jesus Lizard emerged when Yow met Duane Denison in his new city of residence, Chicago. Yow re-recruited Sims from the Scratch Acid line-up, and MacMcNeilly was recruited after their first EP Pure
on which they used a (friggin) drum computer.
The Jesus Lizard employed the bare minimum rock band line-up with remarkable creativity. They are all extremely dedicated to their own instrument, all individually capable of incorporating their own sound in different styles. Obviously combining three of that kind already creates a pretty big area to work with, but this is even enlarged by how they were also very dedicated to the band as a whole. There is structure to the songs, repetition of riffs, monotony in the rhythm section - yet there are no two bars ever exactly the same.
Up to and including their 1994 album Down
they worked with imfamous "recording engineer" (as he prefers to be called) Steve Albini, who has worked with a dazzling lot of artists including PJ Harvey and Bush, but might be best known for Nirvana's In utero
. They signed to Capitol after Down
, causing Albini to back out, and recorded two more albums, Shot
. They are both distinctly different from the rest of their discography, especially Blue
which admittedly is rather bland and lacks the driving drums of McNeilly - he left after Shot
and was replaced by a decent but less-than-special guy named Jim Kimball. Shot
, though deemed a deep decline by some, is still an extraordinarily good record even if the production is lame. But I digress.
Their sophomore release. Considered their best album by many (including me), it is at any rate their signature album. Goat
sizzles with the energy of the band's excitement to play their material. It's hooky, tight, raw, innovative, entertaining and intense, and they KNOW it. Their individual performances are great, and together form a very convincing band effort throughout the entire album.
As an example, on the excellent Lady shoes
, which lyrically is like Yow's take on the famous Aristocrats joke*, Duane's unevenly accentuated tremolo picking is doubled by the bass and fortified by pounding drums. Then it explodes, breaking into a downright demonic punk display while Yow growls his perverted lyrics like a maniac. "There's a girl playing her piano/there's a little girl playing her big piano/while her mother gives her an enema/and then the daddy comes in and jacks off on the piano". Hilarious in a ridiculous over-the-top way.
Man, Duane is such a fantastic guitarist. I've never heard any guitar player who knew so well what a riff is actually worth
, damn! What kind of riff have you ever heard like it to begin with? And then he just expands the awe by unpredictably throwing in different fills, random palm muting and sudden octave shifts! But then in the chorus, it's suddenly just power chords for Duane and the rhythm section, monotonous before, takes over his role of varying! And Yow is being an actual redneck in the verses and screams his lungs out in hopeless denial through the chorus! What a stunning song.
Another thing I love about this album is the song order. I'll try to describe it like this: they simply put the three songs above the 4 minute mark on the first, fifth and ninth place. Conveniently, they are also the slow-paced, more "epic" songs among them. The remaining, more compact songs are ordered in such a way as to comfortably meander to and away from those epics. That may seem a tad melodramatic but there you go.
Were this a perfect world, I would devote each song the long paragraph of praise it deserves. But a lot of Africans are still hungry so you'll just have to buy the album and experience the intricate scariness of Monkey trick
, the ear-piercing bottleneck groove of Nub
, and the yadah of Blah
There are no weak tracks and I daresay there are no weak moments either. These 30 minutes are crammed full of intensity and innovative hooks. Get it! If you already have it, get another one!
This was UncalledFor, thank you for your attention.
(Hooray! The username works!)