Saturday, February 14, 2009

postpunk on the prairie: the Jesus Lizard

Man, we're on a roll here with the Chicago postpunk, might as well strike again while the iron is hot - with perhaps the best of 'em all...

Today, I bring you the Jesus Lizard. Only the best live band I've EVER seen, bar none.

Vocalist - and I use that term lightly - David Yow fights his way through each song as if he were choking on booze and razor blades. Oddly enough, he's one hell of a nice guy in person, clearly a case of a stage persona vs reality thing. Bassist David Wm. Sims (who's blog I have linked to on the right) muscles each song forward with some of the best bass playing I've ever heard, guitarist Duane Denison layers each song with sheets/shards of furious - but tasteful - guitars, and drummer Mac McNeilly (the heart and soul of the band) anchors it all down with, again, some of the greatest drumming I've ever heard.

So yeah, they're pretty good.

Formed in Chicago in 1989 from the remnants of Steve Albini's Rapeman project (Sims) and Austin, Texas legendary punk act Scratch Acid (Yow and Sims), the Lizard began relatively inauspiciously with the 3-men-and-a-drum-machine debut EP PURE on Touch and Go. Having taken the drum machine approach as far as it could go, they recruited super drummer man Mac and unleashed the new 4-piece Lizard via a classic 7" single featuring a medley of Chrome songs ("TV as Eyes" and "Abstract Nympho") simply-titled "Chrome", backed with an original track "7 vs. 8".

Then they ran off a series of absolutely fucking stellar/devastating/ridiculously amazing/fantastic records on Touch and Go through 1993, and then began a slow gradual slide into irrelevance after signing to a major label in 1995, ultimately breaking up in 1999 after earlier losing drummer Mac to other projects (he was replaced by former Laughing Hyenas drummer Jim Kimball for the last couple years of the Lizard's life). 1994's DOWN was their final Touch and Go LP before jumping ship, and I don't know if the separation had already begun between tJL/Albini/T&G but it really sounds like the last LP of an era.

More tJL info here, here and here (official Touch and Go page about 'em).

All their Touch and Go output was recorded by the legendary Steve Albini, who, being the indie purist he is, refused to work with them again after they signed to the major label Capitol Records.

The latest news - "latest" being a relative term, of course, when Jesus Lizard news was few and far between until a month ago - is that the Lizard is reuniting with the original lineup (Yow/Denison/Sims/McNeilly) to play a few gigs in the fall. Oh how I'd pull my own Tight 'n Shiny to see those gigs!

Changing it up a bit here, rather than posting entire album(s), I'm going to compile the greatest tJL compilation ever. We're going to flat-out ignore the Capitol Records era, and focus exclusively on their indie years on Touch and Go 1989-1994, and better yet, I'm going to do it chronologically.

Here's a quick Touch and Go-era discography hit, we'll get to our exclusive compilation below....

- - - - -

1989: PURE (EP) T&GLP#43

Blockbuster / Bloody Mary / Rabid Pigs / Starlet / Happy Bunny Goes Fluff-Fluff Along

1990: CHROME (7") T&G#53

Chrome / 7 vs. 8

1990: HEAD
(LP) T&GLP#54

One Evening / S.D.B.J. / My Own Urine / If You Had Lips / 7 vs. 8 / Pastoral / Waxeater / Good Thing / Tight 'N Shiny / (None Other Than) Killer McHann

1991: MOUTH BREATHER (7") T&G#66

Mouth Breather / Sunday You Need Love

1991: GOAT
(LP) T&GLP#68

Here Comes Dudley / Mouth Breather / Nub / Seasick / Monkey Trick / Karpis / South Mouth / Lady Shoes / Rodeo in Joliet


Wheelchair Epidemic / Dancing Naked Ladies

1992: LIAR (LP) TG100

Boilermaker / Gladiator / The Art of Self Defense / Slave Ship / Puss / Whirl / Rope / Perk / Zachariah / Dancing Naked Ladies

1993: PUSS / OH, THE GUILT (split single with Nirvana) TG083

Puss (the Jesus Lizard) / Oh, The Guilt (Nirvana)

1993: LASH (EP) TG121

Glamorous / Deaf As A Bat / Lady Shoes / Killer McHann / Bloody Mary / Monkey Trick
(tracks 3-6 live)

1993: (FLY) ON (THE WALL)
(7") TG128

(Fly) On (The Wall) / White Hole

1994: DOWN (LP) TG131

Fly On The Wall / Mistletoe / Countless Backs Of Sad Losers / Queen For A Day / The Associate / Destroy Before Reading / Low Rider / 50¢ / American BB / Horse / Din / Elegy / The Best Parts

- - - - - - - -

Enough background.....

the Jesus Lizard 1990-1994, Compiled

(a Power of Independent Trucking exclusive)

Part I
Part II

01 Blockbuster (live soundboard recording 4 December 1992, 9:30 Club, Washington, DC - far better live than the 3-piece studio version)
02 Chrome
03 One Evening
04 S.D.B.J.
05 My Own Urine
06 If You Had Lips
07 7 vs. 8
08 Waxeater
09 Tight 'N Shiny
10 Then Comes Dudley
11 Mouth Breather
12 Nub
13 Seasick
14 Monkey Trick
15 Wheelchair Epidemic
16 Boilermaker
17 Gladiator
18 Whirl
19 Rope
20 Dancing Naked Ladies
21 Glamorous
22 Destroy Before Reading
23 Low Rider
24 The Best Parts

This compilation just plain rips. If there's enough demand I can post the individual records, but they're all still in print (the albums, that is) on Touch and Go, and there are plans afoot to issue remastered editions (and, from what I've heard, remastered the right way by none other than Shellac's Bob Weston) before the year is out.

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