Old Sounds New Ways

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Every once in a while the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s retro sounding albums fool  you into thinking  you are hearing a cover from some band you cannot quite place, but they don’t do covers—and, hell, they don’t need to.  The songs that may sound familiar sound that way because the palette is late 60s Stones, Beatles, Kinks and all done without the airbrushing of overproduction.  You get drums, bass, guitar, organ, accordion, and tambourine. It’s not derivative though; it’s authentic to the time it reveres. That doesn’t mean that “Caress” from Take it From the Man! doesn’t sound like  “The Magic Bus” in a way, in a good way.


Much of Take it From the Man! sounds like The Stones at their best, jamming up feedback-filled, inimitable sessions, all sounding live and loved at once.  “Monkey Puzzle” and “Take it from the Man!” have that attitude the Stones once exuded, punked-up blues before anyone knew what to call it.  Retrospection informs the Brian Jonestown Massacre but it does not limit their music.

The best tunes from Take it From the Man! are these great jam ups like the reprise, eleven minute version of “Straight Up and Down,” the shorter “Straight Up and Down,” and the great bike song, “B.S.A.”  Anyone can guess what “(David Bowie I Love You) Since I was Six” is about and what it must sound like, but you will probably be happily surpised by what the Brian Jonestown Massacre delivers.  They sound like, but do not copy, several bands.  

It's Old Now, 1996 Is

“The Be Song” and “My Man Syd” are both vintage Kinks, for instance, almost to the point where I wish they would mine a sort of Muswell Hillbillies vein for an album or two. So, those of you who like rock from the era of The Who, The Stones, Beatles,  Byrds, and The Kinks have some new material to wander through, arms down, palms forward, feeling flowers and grass pass over your palms.






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