The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads [VINYL] Double LP
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The much-anticipated definitive release of Lift To Experience's seminal double concept album, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, mixed as God intended. The album is a brand new mix of the classic album, overseen by the band and engineer Matt Pence and features rejuvenated album artwork (an homage to the Texas-based graphics design studio Pen & Pixel famed for their 90's Southern gangsta rap album covers).
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"Is the world really ready for a 75-minute progressive country-emo concept album by three God-fearing ranch hands about Texas being the Promised Land?" asked NME on the release of this album in 2001. "Not yet" was probably the precise answer. However, the album quickly garnered mass critical acclaim and as discerning music lovers picked up on its brilliance, the wonderment grew.
The listener can happily immerse themselves into the concept of the album or equally choose to ignore it as the music stands in its own right. The central plot revolves around Texas emerging from the apocalypse as a geographical "Noah's Ark " with its epicenter in the town of Denton. It is littered with biblical references throughout and contains epic songs with titles like "Down with the Prophets" or "Grounds so soft" which is based on 1st Corinthians. These two CDs can barely contain the scope and scale of vision underpinning this concept and at times it feels as big and awe-inspiring as the Lone Star state itself. References are of limited value but contextually we are in the territory of My Bloody Valentine, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You black Emperor and Mogwai, soundtracked to a voice so soft that the ghost of Jeff Buckley is evoked.
In addition, care is needed not to create the impression that this album is somehow the heavy rock soundtrack for the Evangelical right. Pearson's songs are full of humour and often utterly preposterous. Thus he pleads at one time "Lord, I'll make you a deal: I will if you give me a smash hit so I can build a city on the hill". In standout tracks like "Falling from Cloud 9" the remaster shines. the crispness and epic sweep of the song are a given but it also sounds like it is overdubbed with forty guitars playing simultaneously. A trusty Bose Soundtouch speaker could barely contain the scale of the cacophony. The epic closer "Into the Storm" is just massive. It sees Pearson's heartfelt plea at the songs conclusion that you "Follow me over the Jordan across the Rio Grande/Follow me into Texas into the Promised Land/Marching on to Zion with gun in hand". It could easily disintegrate but holds to together to produce a huge blast of epic proportions. The remastered "These are the days" rumbling bass now sound like an army on the move, the weighty drumming comes to the forefront and Pearson's planted kiss on the microphone is louder than ever. The new version of "With Crippled Wings" has an evocative power that is primal and its sonic explosion at 5 minutes hits you with the force of a hurricane. Finally, "Waiting to Hit" is an insanely brilliant powerhouse with some of the most ludicrously over the top lyrics ever penned.
Full credit to Guy Garvey for getting the band back together in 2016 to do a gig at his Meltdown Festival. Pearson came on stage in a large cowboy hat beneath a Texan flag, a longhorn cow’s skull proudly displayed. For a precious moment, it saw one of the best bands on the planet back where they belong. Whether they ever perform again is incidental as the remastered "Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads" takes your breath away.
The CD packaging (all card) is great and colourful but, as before, there are no full lyrics just some brief quotes taken from some of the songs (-you need the deluxe LP boxset for that as it comes with a 24-page booklet with photos and complete lyrics amongst other things, but unfortunately Amazon don't seem to be selling it, they are only selling this double CD and the standard, but still lovely, gatefold double LP with coloured vinyl). This time round, CD1 is blue and CD2 is red (it was the other way round in 2001).
Finally, the small round sticker on the front (see my photo!) implies that the pack includes a download code for the old 2001 version AND the new 2017 remastered version, but there was only one download card in mine with a link to .flac files of the original album (and I know other people have found the same). Maybe I've misunderstood the sticker! Still, you are in effect getting 2 x double albums in one format or another for under a tenner (at the time of writing), so can't grumble!
Wonderful music that gives me something new every time I listen to it, I can't recommend this enough.
Lift To Experience's only album, originally released in 2002 and now remasted to mark its 15th anniversary, is a sprawling southern gothic epic, like Gone With The Wind set to music by Jeff Buckley and Sonic Youth (except without the racism and Confederate apologism). Its dark americana and tsunami guitars make for a unique combination, with Pearson singing about the second coming in Texas. Afterall, the USA is at the centre of JerUSAlem.
I've not heard the original mix so I can't compare but the album sounds great and the vinyl pressing is warm but airy. It's wondefully packaged and the red and blue records are a nice touch. If americana meets soaring shoegaze sounds like you're sort of thing, give thid a go.
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