Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jandek, II

Telegraph Melts (750)

More like ‘Nancy featuring Jandek’ for a good part of this record, one of the most compelling of the catalogue- the man himself doesn’t sing a note until song #4, a track that features some of the most distorted, reverb-drenched vocals of the whole catalogue. This one’s primarily drum-driven, again with the anemic Mo Tucker sound. The drums don’t really keep a beat so much, though- the record stumbles along.

Nancy sounds a whole lot like Grace Slick on this record, but winds up losing the prettiness of the earlier stuff. Some nice back-and-forth vocals on ‘Star Up In The Sky’, a song that features Jandek vocals that sound something like hysteria. And ‘Governor Rhodes’ has got to be one of the most fucked up songs ever- Jandek and Nancy sound like they’re evoking spirits for the benefit of some whacked out religious cult, chanting about love. The end of the record features two male voices, especially on the Shaggs-esque ‘Mother’s Day Card.’ Two different people at once, or two different vocal inflections tracked at different times? The enigma!

Sample lyric: ‘If you wanna breathe, baby, don’t paint yr. teeth.’

Blue Corpse (753)

The day after my thirtieth birthday party, the first package arrived as we cleaned the apartment and watched the blizzard going on outside the window- this one and one of the spoken world albums. Both Damian and the lady I was going out with thought that the records were complete bullshit; me and Shelly thought that they were awesome.

Everyone points to this record as one of the landmarks- the aftermath, the story goes, of breaking up with Nancy. There’s certainly a more somber tone than on the records that I’ve already reviewed, a lot more sadness easily evident. Hell, ‘Variant’ is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard. But, in typical Jandek fashion, the whole thing is muddled by other stuff on the record- ‘Long Way’ seems to be improvised and features a little bit of a second person laughing in the background. Despite all this, though, there’s a bluesiness that strays towards traditional structure, making this record pretty accessible, as far as Jandek goes, anyway.

(A quick story: for a long time, Glenn Danzig was a giant injoke around my house, because Brendan had never heard ‘Mother’ before, just my version of it [which, for the record, is pretty good]. So, when Brendan finally heard it, he thought the tune itself was okay but liked my rendition better than the actual song. The first song on this record is the one that Brendan always sings when people ask him what’s up with his weird roommate being into the even weirder Jandek. His version, pretty spot-on- “Eye-yiiiiiiii wanted toooooo die!”- is probably better than Jandek’s original. Not as good as Feast Whisperpants and Penis Tea Flush covering ‘Alive,’ but close.)

Sample lyric: “Kill me, I think I’m a goner.’

You Walk Alone (754)

Picking up the traditional blues base of ‘Blue Corpse’ and running with it, to the point where there are songs on this record that might actually pass for music. A great place to start- one of my favorites.

Sample lyric: “Goodbye Beacon Hill. Hello misfortune, I’ve got time to kill.”

On The Way (755)

The traditional blues guitar is still in effect, but the second guitar, the one that played the progressions, is back to being, well, Jandek- the brittle, trebly lines that were all over the earlier records have returned. Not a huge departure from the last few, but different enough to notice, anyway.

‘Message To The Clerk’ is blues-y and funny- ol’ Janky trying to rhyme his lyrics occasionally comes across like one of those old Adam Sandler skits from Saturday Night Live.

So, after an album of pretty musical, lively songs, what does Jandek do? He tacks on the eight-and-a-half-minute ‘I’ll Sit Alone And Think About You’, a song that I’m sure would be very sensitive and heartwrenching if I could fucking understand a word of it. Seriously- the drums are the loudest tracks on the song, with the guitar and vocals buried way, way down in the mix. Jandek mumbles his way through the song, swinging the momentum of the album for the last two songs. ‘I’m Ready’, the last one, features traditional chords and vocals that are somewhere between heavy breathing and whining.

Sample lyric: ‘And now you’re independent, brush your teeth three times a day.’

The Living End (756)

My fantasy league baseball team has been named the Expletive Greys ever since I started in the league three years ago. Last year’s team logo featured a doctored version of the cover of this album- the photo looks like it belongs laminated onto Jandek’s passport- a straight-on shot of the man in what looks to be a peacoat and scarf (on the team logo, Jandek’s wearing eyeblack and a hat that says ‘cuss.’)

Anyway. Sounds like the same blues player that was on the last record- this one starts off with some vocal call/guitar response, then follows with a few numbers that wouldn’t sound at all out of place on ‘On The Way.’

The most perplexing thing, if you believe the storyline, is the appearance of Nancy on this record. Conventional Jandek wisdom leans towards the thought that ‘Blue Corpse’ is the breakup album, yet the voice on this one, three albums later, sounds a whole lot like Nancy. Maybe they’re still friends.

The album ends with ‘Crazy’- the soloist runs up and down his scales while Nancy sings her gritty blues and Jandek shouts in the background. How do you think Jandek found this lady, anyway? Think he played her some of the records and asked her to be on them, or was it more like her being idly charmed by an unmarked tape- demos of new stuff- while she was sitting in the still-running car waiting for him to get back from buying a pack of smokes?

Smaple lyric: “I got a license to kill. I got a license to kill myself.”


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