Graves Brothers Deluxe
Like Leonard Cohen playing Magazine and Neu covers with the Rolling Stones. Argh, I fucking can’t leave that one be. Let’s break it down into the component parts, shall we? Throaty, whiskey-voiced vocalist Stoo Odom channels the sage and weary rasp of a bloody but unbowed Leonard Cohen with remarkable ease; the band attacks their material with the wasted disregard of prime Exile Stones; and that material is every bit as raw, innovative and strangely poised as, say, Neu and Magazine. A heady brew and it works, okay? And I even had that fancy-dancy bit of metaphororama one-minute into the malice-fuelled opener, “Right As Rain.” It’s a fucking beast; the sound is huge, up there with “Saint Huck” and “King’s Lead Hat” in terms of bodyblow immediacy.
The instrumental “And Then The Conversation Turned To Sex” does a fabulous job of combining dub with cinematic atmospherics and more upbeat post-punk weirdness (Pil, etc.), all tied together with a serpentine lead guitar that flows like liquid gold. And that bass line makes Peter Hook green with envy! The icy, Minutemen-does-rockabilly stomp of “Raw Stinking Beauty” is the only misstep on an otherwise incredible record. But drenching it in feedback and all manner of guitar tangents DOES do a great deal to redeem it. Almost.
Bon Scott seemingly shows up on “The Powers That Be,” forcing his way into Odom’s larynx for some desperate belting of protestations of love that just hurt, y’know? They even make the tired quiet/loud dynamic, that lesser bands have beaten into the ground, work for one last time. The whispered coda of “fuckin’ up up up up up up” is amazing too. For a cover of Jose Jiminez’s “Munequita Negra,” the Graves Brothers Deluxe go all Bad Seeds-meets-Jobim to the sleazy, exhilirating hilt. In a similar vein is their cover of Pere Ubu’s “Heart Of Darkness” — just like a drunk poet stealing kisses and beating up punk asses in the toughest bar in town.
Like all good things, it’s over almost as soon as it started. It’s all they needed to do, really. That good. Funny, cuz I was just thinking today how the truly perfect live band would only play twenty minute sets of compressed diamond brilliance….
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