Blue Öys­ter Cult lyri­cist teams with gui­tar ace for a com­pli­cated but thrilling lis­ten.

Prog - - The Musical Box - Fl

In the blue cor­ner, it’s sci­ence fic­tion writer and oc­ca­sional Blue Öys­ter Cult lyri­cist John Shirley. In the red, Jerry King, a man with fin­gers in too many pies to list here, al­though he did ap­pear on the Frets Of Yore com­pi­la­tion along­side Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, and 48 other gui­tarists. To­gether, they’ve made an al­bum. The open­ing rock churn of Pigzip­per gives way to the woozy, cock­tail jazz of Pup­pet Dance, and it’s im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent this isn’t go­ing to be a smooth ride. Shirley and King take every op­por­tu­nity to veer off on un­pre­dictable tan­gents, from the at­mo­spheric, spo­ken word of Machin­ery Of The Sea to the slightly sin­is­ter Lou Reed’s Last Words, which ap­pears to end with the Vel­vet Un­der­ground man be­ing fer­ried off into the af­ter­life, des­per­ate for it all to end. Some of it’s gen­uinely thrilling; the sax on Tippy Top is a blast of un­teth­ered, Fela Kuti-style Afro-jazz, while the Clap­tonesque gui­tar solo on Iniq­ui­ties is lovely. It all comes across as equal parts Crim­son, Zappa, Iggy Pop, Mar­vin Pon­tiac and late night ra­dio host. It’s the sound of some­one spin­ning records and yarns on ob­scure fre­quen­cies for lost driv­ers and acid trip­pers. By any mea­sure, it’s com­pli­cated.

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