JOHN SHIRLEY & JERRY KING
Blue Öyster Cult lyricist teams with guitar ace for a complicated but thrilling listen.
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.