1996 in music:
Modest Mouse - Interstate 8,
Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die,
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads,
Sepultura - Roots,
The Cure - Wild Mood Swings...
You get the idea...
Anton Newcombe is, to all intents and purposes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Without him the band would likely be rudderless drug addicts who were simply interested in music. His presence provides the necessary catalyst that kick-starts all of their songs and albums, fervently recording and mastering every release himself (and there are a lot of them). But conversely, The Brian Jonestown Massacre IS Anton Newcombe. The band has taken up such a significant part of the man's life, and taken such a significant part of his personality, that he is now completely and eternally entwined in the band's mythology, having taken the rock n' roll attitude to the logical extreme, Anton Newcombe is now nothing more and nothing less than the creator, and manufacturer of music that is known as the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Thankfully ditching the insincere shoegaze style of earlier albums, Anton remodeled his band into a neo-psychedelic one, and one that seems to have taken more than just Anton's attention too, it has taken his soul, and his impulsive personality to the limit. Battling hard drugs for a number of years, Anton has fathered a child, and subsequently had it taken off him, due to his obsessive nature towards drug and risk taking, and writing and recording music.
For all of his downfalls, and there are a lot of these too, Anton Newcombe has an infinitely troubled and likeable tinge to his often explosive personality. He is an avid record collector, instrumentalist, and believer in free speech. Trouble is, he is also a violent, cocky and rude man. Regardless of this, his recorded output is amazingly consistent and also incredibly vast, due in no part to his constant need to continue recording, lest more damaging things beckon...
Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request is the second in the trilogy of classic Neo-Psychedelic albums released by the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the first being Take It From The Man!, and the last of which is Thank God For Mental Illness. These three albums are really a continuum, a free form follow-on from the last if you will. All recall the high points of the swinging 60's culture, the Rolling Stones, the Small Faces, the Byrds, the Beatles, and even the Doors.
Although the influences are worn thinly on Anton's rather baggy sleeves, at no point does their recreation seem forced, unattractive, or ham-fisted in it's delivery. Each track carves out a particular recurrent theme and band to call to mind, and instead of ripping them for all it's worth (like Wolfmother or Jet), they pay a beautiful and honest homage. Anton knows throughout who the real geniuses are here, and although he is a very talented musician and songwriter, it's his heroes who really get the worship here, Ray Davies, Paul McCartney, Jim Morrison, they are the stars of this show.
In India is a particular standout, with it's droning sitar, stretched vocals and fast paced Indian feel, it calls to mind many of the late 60's greats, painting a vivid and bizarrely accurate picture of the band as revivalists.
Every track is a spectacular ode to Anton's infamously excellent record collection, as he consciously chooses only the best bands and albums to tastefully borrow from for his 73 minute epic of an album. Although it is hugely consistent, some of the much better cuts are Donovan Said, No Comedown, Jesus, Feelers and the gripping Anemone, all posses a magic sounding ring in their life span, calling to mind some of the better stuff from the late 60's. The album is as important as any in 90's rock, as 1996 showed in music, because it's influences are not the standard fare of Blondie, Talking Heads or Buzzcocks. They do not feature at all in this album, which gives it an oddly out of turn feel with regards to the rest of 1996, like the band is walking in the wrong direction but still reaching the same inevitable mainstream conclusion.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Satanic Majesties', though, is the fact that it has been produced in such a fantastic way so as to give it an 'of the age' feel. With some tracks being just lo-fi enough so as to convince the more gullible listener that 'this is a lost Rolling Stones track from 1967'. Regardless of his influences, Anton Newcombe manages to breathe life into a genre many had though painfully uncool, unoriginal and perhaps a bit creepy. Though he may bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, at least he brings it in to the 21st century at all. We have Anton to thank for that, and even though he may just kick you in the head or swear at you, you secretly know that he loves you really.