So, here they are. A name which held me in interest from the moment I purchased their split single with Nirvana. The song by these guys called "Puss" was the lead track, so in the UK they played the video for it on a TV show called "Top Of The Pops" which was a blast. Then they released some records and split, but apart from that split single - I never bothered to check any more of their stuff.
No real reason why this happened. Just time, money and to be honest other bands came in the way. Also, their albums were not readily available in Newcastle upon Tyne for reasonable prices. So after a wait I just picked a random title and "Shot" came to me.
First things first - Wikipedia has these guys down as noise. Even though I have added the tag, this album sounds a little too clean in places for a noise record. Also, I can see why these guys were placed in the company of Melvins and Nirvana. Sharing a similar sort of tone at place this would have been one of my top records if I had have bought it in 1996 (even up to the late 2000's). But I have not bought it as the long lost child of yore. I have bought it now and I have a few problems with this record.
The album is well crafted - songs like "Thumper", "Blue Shot" and "Skull of a German" as stand out and a great example of 90's alternative America. But the production just seems wrong. When they should be going for the distortion peddle, they keep the tone clear. When the tone is back to the noisey side of things like "Thumbscrews" it is harsh and aggressive. But when they keep the clean tone instead of going distortion peddle and kicked up a stomp - as shown on "Skull of a German" it feels like no matter how well and good the song is, there was another version with the fuzzy noise and dirty sound awaiting the light which was held in the dark like a teddy bear in a nightmare. I don't know if it was the producer who thought it would make them stand out from the crowd or if the band themselves wanted to do something different. Either way it makes me think there was something else that could have been done, but they seem to just miss it.
So, it seems I waited too long for my first Jesus Lizard album. Would I tell someone not to get this album - I would say it is ok, but I could not say which one to get instead as it is all I have heard for now. Will I get another one - yes I would as I know there is more to them than on "Shot", and I am sure it will be fun to find out one way or another.
6 out of 10 - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there
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