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2023 Albums Thing 144 - Grant Lee Buffalo “Mighty Joe Moon”

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Another band/record I discovered via a track on a comp CD sent to me by Miles. The track wasn’t the reasonably well known single “Mockingbirds”, which is an absolute beauty, but the opening “Lone Star Song”, a crushing guitar riff, that most grunge bands of the time would have been proud of, leads us into a song about David Koresh and the Waco Massacre. It’s a song that struck me immediately and has been a favourite ever since.

Grant Lee Buffalo formed in Los Angeles in 1991. A three piece headed up by songwriter Grant Lee Phillips, “Mighty Joe Moon” is their 2nd of four studio albums and could loosely be placed in the Americana bucket if you needed to do that. It has hints of country and folk music but equally has splashes of Grunge, The Beatles and classic American Rock, Americana in the loosest sense.

2nd track “Mockingbirds” maybe one of their better known songs, a gentle lament with Beatle-esque strings and that’s followed by the folksy “It’s The Life”, all ringing 12 string acoustics and gently brushed snare; “Sing Along” returns us to the grungy feel of the opening song. And so it progresses swinging twixt beautifully melodic ballads like the title song and the tougher songs in the vein of “Lone Star Song”.

On its release in 1994 “Mighty Joe Moon” was about as out of step with American music as it was possible to be at the time, which is likely what drew me to it. Grunge was where it was at, Cobain had recently taken his own life, and here was a band with a predominantly acoustic rooted album singing songs referencing Tecumseh, David Koresh and John Wayne Gacy with hints of country and folk. Gimme that over bands who were playing heavy metal in check shirts any day. Needless to say it wasn’t a huge seller and remains a much overlooked classic to these ears.

If I have one problem with this album it would be that the original CD and my recently acquired remastered clear vinyl beauty is mastered so bloody quietly that you really have to crank the volume and consequently I always feel like I’m never hearing it at it’s best. But don’t let that put you off…

Lone Star Song - https://youtu.be/-bz71U4BZGk

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