Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Gun Club : Miami 1982

For some unfathomable reason one of the greatest bands to come out of the U.S.A. in the last years has never seemed to receive the respect it is due. Coming straight out of the L.A. punk scene in 1980, The Gun Club were one of the first to take a really punk attitude to roots music. True, they had been predated by several bands like The Blasters, NRBQ, etc. but these were really way too respectful of the material they were recreating. The Gun Club, according at least to bandleader Jeffrey Lee Pierce's autobiography Go Tell The Mountain, set out on a mission to destroy.

Miami is the second studio album by punk blues group The Gun Club, released in 1982. It was released on Blondie guitarist Chris Stein's label, Animal RecordsStein also produced the album.

 According to Terry Graham, Miami was recorded in a "tiny room in a second rate studio somewhere in New York and sports the famous "muffled" sound so favored by tiny rooms in second rate studios". This probably added greatly to the atmosphere here; that combined with Ward's slide guitar seem to underpin the sounds here. To sum up the contradictions of this record, the band captures the claustrophobia of wide-open spaces in a cramped studio in New York.

Producer Chris Stein is said to dislike heavy guitar based rock, which adds to the confusion in the production. He winds up with a ghostly presence in the sound pretty different to the way the band would come across live. It winds up sounding like the country LP the Doors never cut.

Pierce's vocals were getting stronger and he is still using the blues moan he picked up from Tommy Johnson. He would later recommend that I listen to Howlin' Wolf, an artist who was renowned for his trademark howl. Pierce's lyricism was becoming progressively mystical on tracks like "Like Calling up Thunder" and "Brother And Sister" but a rock and roll pulse still underlies everything. He approaches dirty realism on "Texas Serenade," a depiction of a suburban killing. The best track on the album is probably "Mother of Earth," a song where the narrating character is a drifter tired of 'eating and leaving but can't go back no more.'

One little known fact about this track is that Billy Idol, who was hanging around with Pierce a lot in L.A. at the time, said that "White Wedding" was an attempt to copy it. Don't let that put you off, this is beautiful. Mark Tomco of Rubber Rodeo adds pedal steel guitar to both this and "Texas Serenade" adding a further psychedelic swirl.

Miami was originally due to be called "Triggernometry," after a book on Old West gunfighters. To quote Graham again, the new title Miami " was chosen because JLP liked places like Miami, Las Vegas, New Orleans.... places where the seamy underbelly is more readily on display. Candy stores for terminally inquisitive miscreants and carnival trash. Such places were/are fair reflections of the activity inside Pierce's's head. A psychic requirement for all Gun Club temp workers." 

Debbie Harry appears as a backing singer on various tracks on the album under the pseudonym "D.H. Laurence Jr." The album front cover photograph doesn't include Rob Ritter who had already left the band. Before leaving the band, Ritter first taught all his bass-lines to his ex-Bags bandmate Patricia Morrison.

The track "Mother of Earth" was covered by alt-country band The Sadies on their 2001 album Tremendous Efforts. It was also covered by Swedish band bob hund, but with lyrics in Swedish, as “Mamma din jord” on their 2019 album “0-100”.

In 1996, aged 37, Pierce died from a brain hemorrhage at the University of Utah Hospital.

The Gun Club

    Jeffrey Lee Pierce : vocals, guitar, piano, background vocals on "Watermelon     Man", lead guitar on "Run Through the Jungle", "John Hardy" and "Mother of       Earth"
    Ward Dotson : lead guitar, background vocals on "Watermelon Man"
    Rob Ritter : bass
    Terry Graham : drums

Additional musicians

    D.H. Laurence, Jr.(Debbie Harry)
: backing vocals
    Walter Steding : fiddle on "Watermelon Man"
    Chris Stein : producer, bongos on "Watermelon Man"
    Mark Tomeo : steel guitar on "Texas Serenade" and "Mother of Earth"


01. Carry Home : 3:14
02. Like Calling Up Thunder : 2:29
03. Brother and Sister : 2:57
04. Run Through the Jungle (John Fogerty) : 4:07
05. A Devil in the Woods : 3:05
06. Texas Serenade : 4:40
07. Watermelon Man (Ward Dotson, Jeffrey Lee Pierce) : 4:11
08. Bad Indian : 2:37
09. John Hardy (Traditional; arranged by Jeffrey Lee Pierce) : 3:21
10. Fire of Love (Jody Reynolds, Stordivant Sonya) : 2:14
11. Sleeping in Blood City : 3:29
12. Mother of Earth : 3:21

Take It Here MP3 @ 320 Size : 91 MB
Take It Here  Flac : Size :   285 MB

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