Take it like the Brian Jonestown Massacre

So you Johnny (Rotten, Thunders, err Leyton) Come Latelys have just seen the movie Dig and have completely flipped for The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Well best get saving your pennies* as you have over a dozen albums to catch up on, and guess what, they are almost all brilliant. The easy way in of course is to buy the recently issued anthology Tepid Peppermint Wonderland. Trouble is that once you’ve spinned it a couple of times you’ll be craving more which is where Take it from the Man comes in.

Recorded during the early days of the Dig movie, Take it from the Man is the album in which BJT truly live up to their billing and, possessed by the spirit of their long-dead mentor, deliver a kick ass garage rock masterpiece that’s every bit as fun as the Stones mid sixties albums.

Take it from the Man is almost unique too in the way it manages to sound very retro – R and B anoraks can spend hours spotting the influences – while at the same time very contemporary. Only The La’s, with their turbocharged take on Merseybeat, have pulled this trick off in quite the same way.

In fact even if you never get beyond track five you’ll have heard more than enough to convince you of Anton Newcombe’s genius. The opener Vacuum Boots is a call and response style number complete with jangly guitar and a subtly addictive tune. Next up is the adrenaline rush of Who, the BJT’s very own Song 2. Track three, Oh Lord, sees Matt Hollywood – described in the movie as Newcombe’s younger, crankier, less hip brother – take centre stage and helm a powerhouse piece of R and B that features quite the most inventive and exciting guitar break I have heard in ages.

By track five there’s a respite from the mania with Since I was Six (David Bowie I Love you), a beautifully floaty tune that hints at the more cerebral direction the BJT would embark on later in their career.

There are plenty of other cool songs on the album including my personal fave, BSA, which has a whiff of the Jesus and Mary Chain. But BJT save the real fireworks for the finale Straight Up and Down, where, after a reprise of one of the album’s earlier moments, the BJT launch into a full on psychedelic freak out complete with Sympathy for the Devil woo woos and snatches of the na na na refrain from Hey Jude. It is complete madness.

The BJT would go on to make an album almost as good in Give it Back, whose songs feature heavily in Dig, before delivering the more mainstream-sounding, but still wonderful album Strung out in Heaven. Their later albums are all essential, but for guts and glory garage punk this is the one.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Take it from the Man 1996 (Bomp)

* You can also download BJM albums for free in the Ogg Vorbis format here


2 Responses to “Take it like the Brian Jonestown Massacre”

  1. Rick Says:


  2. Steve Dix Says:

    You forgot to mention the complete lift of “Hang On Sloopy” in the 2nd half of “Straight Up and Down”. Not only the verse structure, but the chorus as well.

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