Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Picked up “Strays” yesterday. When I heard a few months ago that Bob Ezrin was producing, Im sure I just got all giddy. Ive always loved his huge, theatrical, pretentious -- often ridiculous approach to a record and couldnt wait to hear what he would do with the already larger than life and cosmically goofy Jane’s Addiction. I was equally apprehensive -- sometimes the Bob Ezrin touch can absolutely ruin what couldve been a good product, ie The Jayhawk’s 2000 release “Smile.” Sometimes it just doesnt work (and whoever suggested THAT collaboration shouldve been publicly flogged). Back on task: I immediately popped “Strays” into the CD player in the car for the drive home. MY GOD! “Here we go!” Chills ran down my spine, I was smiling and laughing the entire drive home -- it IS HUGE, theatrical, pretentious and yes, often ridiculous. And it fucking rocks. The record is joyous -- and as familiar as an old friend. This band is accutely aware of their iconic public stature -- playfully tossing around the alt/rock cliches they invented, referring to tunes past -- but never sounding dated or trite. And the RIFFS!!!! The Farrell/Navarro chemistry is as electric as it was thirteen years ago -- and in my opinion firmly cements their place in rock history among the great singer/guitarist pairings: Plant/Page, Scott/Young, Johannsen/Thunders, Mercury/May, Tyler/Perry, etc. Ive got my favorites: “True Nature” “Price I Pay” “Suffer Some” “Hypersonic” -- but there is really no weak tune on the disc. When the last song ended I felt kind of, I dont know... sad that is was over, I didnt want the experience of the first listen to end. I wanted more tunes. Do you know how long its been since Ive been able to say that about ANY record?

Also getting play in the car this week: Grand Funk’s 1969 release “Grand Funk Railroad” -- worth purchasing just to hear Mel’s amazing bass tone. If all you are familiar with from the Grank Funk catalog are tunes like “American Band” or “Locomotion” -- you’ve got a big surprise awaiting you. This is pure, raw, sloppy, dirty, blues drivin kick-ass rock and roll.

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