ROCK & REPRISE.NET
THE GREEN PAJAMAS
I have no idea who Mike Brown is or was, but how cool would it be to have had a song written about you? The Green Pajamas, in their amoeba phase, did just that--- wrote a song about a Mike Brown. Or maybe not. Maybe Jeff Kelly just liked the name and the way it sounded, but what the hell? It would still be cool. I can envision in my head 25 or 30 Mike Browns walking around Seattle back in 1984 claiming that that song was, indeed, written about them. Even the uncool ones no one wanted to be like. Immortality can be a hopeful thing.
I think the Pajamas are an anomaly in my life. Mostly, I listen and then burn out. One or two albums, three at the most, and I am usually ready to move on. Jethro Tull lasted three, but you couldn't really count the first album because that Tull was another band entirely--- to me. Jefferson Airplane lasted three, After Bathing at Baxter's a fitting peak and end to my Airplane-itis. I haven't .listened to a Stones album since Exile On Main Street and, truth be told, that one didn't impress me much anyway. Big Star? Done after two--- I always thought the later BS projects weak at best. You're getting the picture, right?
Then please explain to me why I am still on the Pajamas' bandwagon. How many albums have they put out? Twenty-six? Twenty-seven? Granted, I have not heard them all, but I have heard more than two or three (considerably more, actually) and I am not even close to kicking them to the curb. Hell, I'm even following them backwards. Two of my favorite Pajamas albums recently are The Complete Book of Hours (read my review here) and the newly re-released Summer of Lust. I shouldn't be following them backwards. I don't have time to follow them backwards, but I am. And I'm digging it.
Summer of Lust, in case you are unaware, is a re-release of the Pajamas' very first album which at the time of original release was cassette only. I was working in Seattle at the time and didn't pay much attention, but my good friend Howie made sure I knew about it, even if he didn't force the issue. On this album, they were basically two--- Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross. They would add members and record in various combinations over the next 20+ years, but this was the beginning--- where the egg was laid.
What it is, musically, is a retrospective shock. While I expected the occasional Kim the Waitress track, poppy and jangly and a precursor of things to come, I did not expect the tracks which looked both forward and backward. Like the full-on psychedelic treatment of With a Flower In Her Hair, with its sense of mid-sixties to late-sixties Brit psych reminiscent of The Stones and even The Yardbirds. They stretch it out for over seven minutes with a mild freak-out bridge sounding more sixties than eighties (the album was recorded in 1984) and, front to back, nail it down. They stretch it even further with the magnificent The Dreams Inside the Butterfly's Mind, pure psych for lovers of the farfisa organ (which turned many a regular rock track psychedelic) and Beatles-era Paul McCartney (think the bass part on If I Needed Someone)--- again, over seven minutes worth. Precursor? You bet. These guys continued to feed on psych until it practically became their middle names and they have a raft of outstanding psych-oriented albums to prove it.
Another One of Those Nights reverts to garage more than anything else, the song sounding like it belongs more on one of the Pac Northwest's labels of the sixties than on this, and even moreso The Way I Feel About You. Both, by the way, are Ross-penned. Kelly goes garage himself with I Feel That Way All the Time and steps into Pajama-future with the pop gem Dance With the Angels, vocal harmonies and classic organ carrying the tune and the Pajamas forward.
They even throw in a commercial for the album, a ready-for-radio ad promoting the band as a 1984 breakthrough, the DJ at the end giving a plug for a live gig that weekend opening for Merrilee Rush. I chuckle every time I hear it because it is an ad for the album and Cellophane Square, a record store I dearly loved back then. Pajamas? Merrilee Rush? Cellophane Square? What's not to love.
Don't go thinking this is some Nuggets or Pebbles type release. While the music does have its roots, it is fresh and worthy of many more listens than one usually gives nostalgic releases. Of course, if you knew the Pajamas back then or even if you grew up on the sixties Pac Northwest music of the day, you couldn't do better than to pick this up.
Up. That's it. It is an upper. It makes me high. I'm surprised more than I should be. I have yet to hear anything Green Pajamas which has not made me high. And, lucky you (and me), even though this album just recently hit the streets, their next album is scheduled for, when, late July? Jesus, guys, give us some time to enjoy the music. Then again, I guess I'm finding out that it is impossible for me to have too many Pajamas albums. Hell, yeah. Bring it on.
Frank O. Gutch Jr.