In July 1996, Tom Engelshoven of Dutch music magazine Oor described Jeffrey Lee Pierce as the missing link between the Eagles and Kurt Cobain. Four months after the Gun Club frontman had passed away, the article labeled him as the true victim of what Engelshoven interpreted as “the American disease.” Among the symptoms were a strong identification with violence and death and a clear notion of American society being imbued with it. Pierce’s lyrics testified of his awareness of America’s earliest history, a nation established at the barrel of a gun. Obsessed with an inevitable apocalyptic destiny, he took his lowlife background as an explanation for a feverish longing for decay. Sex, booze, and drugs all claimed their share in a self-destructive lifestyle, culminating in an early death at the age of 37. Wildweed was the first of two solo albums Pierce made in between his Gun Club albums. Following in the footsteps of remarkable statements like Miami and The Las Vegas Story, the material presented here isn’t all that different. The violence theme practically drips from the album cover, depicting Pierce with a dreamy look and a shotgun slung over his shoulder. Standing amidst what could be the last true vestige of an unspoiled, rural America, it’s a fair bet that he’s ready to shoot anything even slightly disturbing — upon which he probably will utter one final howl before putting himself “to rest” as well. Plenty of those howls are scattered through Wildweed, which opens with a strong threesome of “Love and Desperation,” “Sex Killer,” and “Cleopatra Dreams On.” In more than one way, “Love and Desperation” is the twin to The Fire of Love’s “Sex Beat.” Apart from the infectious driving beat, one only has to compare the lyrics of the latter (“I, I know your reasons/And I, I know your goals/We can f*ck forever/But you will never get my soul”) to the former (“Somebody hurts you, so you hurt me/So I hurt somebody else, who I have never seen/Who hurts somebody else, why on down the road/Who hurts somebody else who goes on home/With you”) to conclude that Pierce’s world is one in which love takes a wrong turn most of the time. Halfway through the album things get a little awkward when, during the nursery rhyme of “Hey Juana,” Pierce starts name-checking a colleague (“Now Nick the Cave/He spent all his pay/On a bottle of gin/And a shark without a fin”). Luckily, “The Midnight Promise” makes a beautiful closing piece. Alas, the CD release of Wildweed adds some extra tracks that appeared on the Love and Desperation 12″ instead of the more intriguing experiments with spoken word from the 7″ bonus that came with the album or the free jazz of the title track of the Flamingo EP.
[via Jesper Nielsen in London]