GIGsoup’s Adam Stevenson revisits The Brian Jonestown Massacre ‘Their Satanic Majesties Second Request’ – 20 years after it’s original release
It’s not uncommon for bands to pay homage to artists and acts that influenced their music but in most cases it’s normally not delivered in the tongue-in-cheek manner in which the Brian Jonestown Massacre saluted The Rolling Stones with “Their Satanic Majesties Second Request”. Having already given the nod to the rock and roll giants by naming themselves after the group’s troubled former guitarist, the band released an album to mirror the Stones’ 60s psychedelic infused rock record. It is perhaps the weakest of the three released in 1996, with parts of the album feeling a little fluffed up and bizarre for the sake of being bizarre, but within its depths lies a great album.
“All Around You”, the album’s opening track, at its core is showmanship and fun and games. It’s the band poking fun at their own condition and warning you about what lies within yet somehow manages to be one of their best intro tracks. The acid trip inspired lyrics delivered in an informational message style fits well against the background of guitars, sitars, drums and tambourines; setting the tone well for the rest of the album.
“Cold To The Touch” is only one of the tracks as close to perfect you’ll find on “TMSR”; it’s the sort of track that would fit seamlessly on the bands other albums released in 1996 with its raw and underdeveloped indie sound. It’s classic Brian Jonestown Massacre at its finest.
In “Jesus”, the band’s experimentation with Indian influences is used superbly to produce something of that new age – 60s psychedelica hybrid sound. The six and a half minute long musical plea for salvation is perhaps slightly long in length but Jeff Davies’ guitar throughout makes it worth your time.
It’s perhaps Mara Keagle’s seductively angelic voice that makes “Anenome” the best track on the album. Her delivery of the opening lines – “ I, I think I know how I feel, ‘cause I, I only play it for real” pull you inwards and play well against the bands smooth musical styling. The track from start to finish is perfection and is still one of the best tracks they have ever produced.
There is an argument to be made that the LP carries too much bloat and over extends itself. Songs like “Miss June 75” and “Bad Baby”, despite having great moments, stretch out at over 7 minutes a piece making them a difficult casual listen. The unsparing use of mandolins, sitars and glockenspiels can sometimes feel overdone and too much but at the heart of it, there’s something special that still works. It’s definitely not for everyone but then the BJM have never been an everyman band.
This Brian Jonestown Massacre article was written by Adam Stevenson, a GIGsoup contributor