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IT WON'T BE LONG: Black Lips haunt your dreams and "propose on Halloween" with artistic graffiti on new record

Black Lips strike gold on new Sean Lennon-produced record.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Black Lips – Satan’s Graffiti … or God’s Art? (VICE) 2017

With the Beatles, the second album by the Liverpool-based quartet, was released on November 22, 1963 to much fanfare.

And while Beatlemania was taking the group to the “toppermost of the poppermost” in Europe, across the Atlantic, in America, on that same day, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by a cabal of …

Yes, November 22, 1963 was a weird day. A dark day. An historic day. And as America mourned the loss of its “king” of “Camelot,” the very first song British teens heard on their turntables as they spun With the Beatles was the frantic “yeah, yeah” opener “It Won’t Be Long.”

As Jackie Kennedy later told Life magazine: “There’ll be great presidents again, but there’ll never be another Camelot again … It will never be that way again.

I thought about that as I listened to Black Lips new LP – Satan’s Graffiti … or God’s Art? – which featured a slowed-down cover of “It Won’t Be Long” (track 16!), complete with sitar by Black Lips member Jack Hines, who primarily plays guitar for the controversial and psychedelic Atlanta-based indie-rock collective. Maybe their carnival-ride-to-hell version of this classic pop number where Alexander sings "every night the tears come down from my eyes" and he means it!

Why do I make a point of this? Because John Lennon, the primary songwriter behind “It Won’t Be Long,” is the father of Sean Lennon, the producer of this album, an album that kicks off with the desert-rock gallop of “Occidental Front,” a song featuring the one-and-only Yoko Ono.

Remember that following JFK’s death, the Beatles arrived in America just a few months later, helping a sad America feel happy again. It was a turning point. And while Capitol Records “butchered” With the Beatles for American listeners on Meet the Beatles! and making “I Want to Hold Your Hand” the lead song – relegating “It Won’t Be Long” to track four – the song still packed a punch, four songs in. It stays with you, with Paul and George doing their thing, too! It was Lennon trying to write a single, and to appear “intellectual.” That was the story, anyway. A sync/wink to the Fab Four from the Black Lips? I say yes.

So, there is a not-so-subtle B*E*A*T*L*E*S stamp on this Black Lips record, which is entirely all right by me.

I’ve been listening to it over and over. A real surprise record for the #apoceclipse2017 when Trumpsidedown America is looking for heroes. Vinyl shamans. For dream leaders with tattered copies of The Teachings of Don Juan and those willing to tell their dads to take a hike.

For voices to counter the Dark Age vipers and land-raping devils that are manufacturing the chemical shitrain that is killing creativity on this planet and smearing our third eyes with a mixture of used Vaseline urinal cake residue. Who knows what I'm talking about???

But then I listen to “Crystal Night,” the current single from these pitstained Peach Staters and I feel like I’ve fallen into a Lynchian, doo-wop-nightmare-of-a-song appearing in the televised version of Philip K. Dick’s The Man In the High Castle. Eerie, in light of the neo-Nazi crazies who seem to take comfort in the white nationalist gibberish of the Trumpenfuhrer and his fetid fanatics.

Will “Crystal Night” be the single Black Lips have been trying to get out there to be their breakthrough hit song?

Black Lips fall ass-over-teakettle into a creative, cosmic sparkle shower and come out glistening and willing to try anything, ya know?

Singer Cole Alexander “Can’t Hold On” with this Love-esque garage rocker that would have made Arthur Lee proud, while Oakley Munson’s workingman drumming is reminiscent of ol’ Snoopy Pfisterer circa ‘66.

And while I’ve had my issues with Sean and Yoko with their association with Wayne Coyne and Flaming Lips, maybe they have wised up and moved on?!?! (Who is the subject of this new song “Wayne,” we wonder? Hmmmm?)

And while we’re on the subject of the Lennon family, I wanted to note that tomorrow, August 23rd, will be the 43rd anniversary of John Lennon’s sighting of a UFO over Manhattan. Is the UFO on the cover of the album a reminder of that?

And tomorrow, as well, August 23, 2017, Liverpool-based group The KLF (at exactly 12:23 a.m.) will “re-enter the cultural fray,” as The Quietus put it, and Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty will surprise the world with something up there in Liverpool. Will it involve Carl Jung? The manhole on Mathew Street? Ringo? Burned money returning to its original state?

Anyway, Black Lips owe a lot to the Cult of Beatle for Satan’s Graffiti … or God’s Art? and a trifle to Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre) and the paths blazed by Their Satanic Majesties Request, which, incidentally, turns 50 years old in December.

“The Last Cul de Sac” chugs along into the Tom Waits-ish “Got Me All Alone,” with Zumi Rosow’s Roadhouse saxophone (like that dude in Classics IV on "Spooky") sending chills down your spine. Something bad (or perhaps something very good) is fixin’ to happen as Alexander croaks and “plays” his El Diablo electric guitar like a champ – when he feels up to it.

Sludgy garage rockers like "Rebel Intuition" come at just the right moments. The Lips know when they're gettin' too big for their britches, as they do on the harpsichord-fueled psych number "In My Mind There's a Dream." Where's Roky Erickson when you need him? But out of scuzzy dreams comes a "Lucid Nightmare," where Jack Hines takes the lead vocal (along with Lennon on "low vocal"), where mods, rockers and mockers beat the shit out of each other - behind the curtains.

Fat White Family’s (“I Am Mark E. Smith”) Saul Adamczewski, who performs in the side project Insecure Men with Sean Lennon, is a good fit for this record, offering up various musical montages featuring guitars, marimbas, organs - a veritable reincarnation of Brian Jones, when you get right down to it. I reckon if you're a "Lennon" you can get anyone to work with you on some level. Look at the "overture," which is "Sunday Mourning" and listen to the "finale," which is also "Sunday Mourning." Golly! 

So there is an otherworldly, sticky and stinkromystic aspect to Satan’s Graffiti that caught my attention (damn, check out the burning twin palm trees on the album cover, you Paul is Dead freaks!), as well as the very now nature of the lyrics, which keep you on the edge of your bus bench. 

Stay classy, Black Lips. Catch y'all down the road.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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