Giant Sand: The Love Songs (Fire)

 |   |  1 min read

Giant Sand: Wearing the Robes of Bible Black
Giant Sand: The Love Songs (Fire)

One of the most interesting (and lengthy) interviews at Elsewhere this year has been with Howe Gelb of Giant Sand. During that long and digressive conversation I asked Gelb which albums of the massive reissue campaign of his 25 year career he would recommend to newcomers.

He singled out Center of the Universe of '92 saying it was the post-separation album and the only one where he could live as he liked (out in the desert just writing songs). After that he had to come back in and hunker down putting a child into school.

That child was the baby in the background of this album from '88 and so the sessions in LA were alternating with feeding times and baby watching, and -- more pressing -- drummer John Convertino only having 45 minutes to do the songs because he had a gig with another band, Insect Surfers.

"So we played all the songs faster to fit them in before he had to leave."

That isn't to say this is Giant Sand in thrash mode, far from it.

Here are songs haunted by the spirit and railroad rhythms of Johnny Cash (Wearing the Robes of Bible Black), the expansive One Man' Woman/No Man's Land ("An epic. I could've quit after this one. It had everything I ever wanted in a song recorded"), the urgent and fragmented Mad Dog a Man (think the Replacements, or Iggy Pop gone rockin' country).

Fingernail Moon, Barracuda and Me on the other hand is essentially a solo session: "Recording on [bassist Paula J Brown's] 4 track cassette and synth while i was trying not to wake the baby from her nap. The synth horns blare in my headphones while I have to record the vocals in a whisper." It sounds like a strange Lou Reed mystery story.

There is dark blues-rock (Mountain of Love), atonal ballads with a Dylanesque bent (Almost the Politician's Wife) and wheel-spinning rock (The Doors).

It also goes a bit Zappa after the mid-point with the partly spoken/oddball jazz cabaret Is That All There Is?, the soundtrack-like snippet Clump, the industrial funk cover of the Temptations' Get Ready and the strange Murky Dew Red.

Then there is the mockery of the Major Glorious Ending Theme with that baby crying (and two bonus tracks, one an outtake of Famous Politician's Wife).

This is two thirds of a terrific album with the good stuff stacked up front.

Pity Convertino couldn't have given Gelb another 15 minutes.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

As with the blues, rockabilly is always out there, but only occasionally gets its time in the spotlight when artists such as the revivalist Stray Cats or -- more recently -- the great original... > Read more

Po' Girl: Vagabond Lullabies (Shock)

Po' Girl: Vagabond Lullabies (Shock)

This is an unusual one: the Po' Girls seem to be a fairly flexible line-up which includes Trish Klein of the Be Good Tanyas (who have featured at Elsewhere previously). So there is a touch of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Titi Robin: Kali Sultana (Filter/Shock)

Titi Robin: Kali Sultana (Filter/Shock)

Surprisingly, this French multi-instrumentalist (oud, guitar, anything with strings) hasn't previously appeared at Elsewhere, largely because his albums are in woefully short supply in New Zealand.... > Read more

Skip James: I'm So Glad (1931)

Skip James: I'm So Glad (1931)

Previously we posted Otis Rush's original of All Your Love which became one of Eric Clapton's defining versions in '65 (the kind of piece that got the "Clapton is God" graffiti writers... > Read more