This 1992 live album kicks off with the swirling vortex of sound that is Mother's Milk, a soaring tour de force with its driving beat and beautifully macabre lyrics in Jarboe's haunting voice at its most powerful. In its dark cadences, this track sounds like the fierce conclusion of an occult ritual. The soft version on The Great Annihilator transforms Mother's Milk into a soft torch song.
The long instrumental intro of Pow R Sac eventually gives way to the humming of Michael Gira where he employs his voice as one of the instruments to create a pulsating, droning sound collage with frequent tonal shifts. The hypnotic and uplifting instrumental track Will Serve follows, sounding to me like Popol Vuh on a rock excursion.
A soothing melody and Gira's uncharacteristically tender vocals introduce Her, until these are rudely interrupted by a harsh, atonal instrumental segment which then fades into a vocal recital by a teenage girl talking about her friend Charlie against a spooky electronic background, radio commercials & hits from around 1967 like Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl. This version continues the teenager's conversation from the studio version on the Love of Life album.
From brown eyed girls to Black Eyed Dogs, as the band turns Nick Drake's melancholy classic into a fiery rock anthem. It differs from the studio version on Ten Songs for Another World in its lack of the eerie breathing & electronic barking sounds but makes up for that in intensity and gusto. Love Of Life appears in an extended, more "Wagnerian" version with impressive new rhythmic textures, majestic in its guitar drone and crashing cymbals.
Other highlights include the atmospheric rock song Amnesia and the melodic ballads Other Side of the World and God Loves America. This great album is a precious consolation to those who never saw this legendary band live. And such strong material must of course, be well packaged - between Larry Lamé's enigmatic nature goddess on the front cover and Deryk Thomas' malevolent bunny on the back lies a strange, beautiful world of music.
Jarboe's A Mystery of Faith album contains alternative takes of Black Eyed Dog & Mother's Milk whilst studio versions of many of these songs are available on the 2-disc compilation Various Failures 1988-1992 which draws on the albums The Burning World, the aforementioned Ten Songs, Love of Life, White Light from the Mouth of Infinity & the 1988 Love Will Tear Us Apart with the Joy Division interpretations, plus some previously unreleased material.Read more ›