June 00, 2000
Release: Glorious And Idiotic
Buy it yesterday
If that's not a cliche these days, what is? All it's missing is the accompanying MTV special. Now forget all that simplistic coincidence, since it's not a bad bet that you don't have any old favorites by the Jazz Butcher. That's right, if the world didn't know a band was here, even with eighteen years and fifteen albums, can you really call it a comeback?
Well, there's some rabid pockets of people around the world who would call it just that, at least in a literal sense. The Glorious set resurrects some long out-of-print songs that cultists have been clamoring for lo these many years. For someone who's never seen the name or just never actually heard anything, these twelve originals can be old favorites in about an hour. For good measure, the perennial "Roadrunner" by Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers caps it off.
Don't let the name throw you off if you're new to this group. It sounds right at home next to Throbbing Gristle and the Revolting Cocks. The Jazz Butcher himself (Pat Fish) is nothing of the kind. As the album progresses, the sound builds up from just two electric guitars (including some gorgeous hollow body work by Max Eider that Grant Green and Les Paul would envy), adding a bass, a harmonica, a brushed trap set and an accordion much like Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense" routine.
The soft, jazzy duo songs grow to an infectious noise, not unlike Mr. Richman or, for that matter, the Velvet Underground--raw, old-fashioned rock played with both serious passion and relaxed humor. The album is encapsulated in two consecutive tracks. "Caroline Wheeler's Birthday Present," which sounds like Bo Diddley playing "Tequila," is horribly catchy and its "go go, go go gorilla!" refrain instantly burns itself in your brain and starts looping. If you can get past it without playing it again, you slide into "The Long Night Starts," the sort of tender, frank ballad Lou Reed excels at that speaks like an old friend, as you stare at the wall on Saturday night, the one you love occupied with someone else. Then the gears shift again into the cautionary tale of what happened to Bigfoot when he was attracted by the neon lights and checked into a Pacific Northwest motel.
The success of this date in Hamburg last February spurred the "live after death" JBC into a sold-out US tour, and another round of dates is starting up right now. Here's your primer, and you'll probably agree that a live appearance is not to be missed.