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Album Review

THE GREEN PAJAMAS
Green Pajama Country!

Don't freak out, Pajamas fans. The Green Pajamas have not gone Nashville nor have they gone crazy. Well, maybe crazy--- a little. What they have done is put out an album called Green Pajama Country! and while it is true that there is a bit of a twang here and there, you can count on the Pajamas to be Pajamas first and genre thereafter. Of all the bands out of Seattle, Nirvana and Alice In Chains and Soundgarden included, these guys are my frontrunners by a country mile. (Get it? Country mile? I crack me up.)

For those who don't know the Pajamas, here's a little Pajamas 101. What seems like a million years ago (it was closer to 25), the guys came together to bond over a love of sixties pop, then-present day regurgitation of said pop, and late sixties and early seventies psychedelia. Their first full-fledged project, Book of Hours, was a mish-mash of psych and pop of a Talking Heads' variety (thanks largely to Bruce Haedt) and a little of the sunshine variety (Steve Lawrence nailed it!). It was the first real salvo (they had released at least one cassette previously) of a barrage of albums which gained them a huge cult following and critical acclaim which at times actually gushed praise.

There was a reason. These guys were (are) the best of the best. One listen to the recently re-released (with extra tracks) The Complete Book of Hours should convince you that they have the goods even if you don't like the genre, but you have to tiptoe through the catalog to understand. Their long run of, what, 24 (?) albums is a subject of heated debate on various music forums and I laugh at the intensity of those debates, but as stated, there is a reason. Taking a journey through those albums conjures up favorite albums and even favorite moments and Pajamas' fans do not take back seat to fans of the likes of, say, Pink Floyd or The Beatles. Many are of the step-on-my-favorite-and-reap-the-wrath-of-me mentality. Why? Listen to All Clues Lead to Meagan's Bed and Strung Behind the Sun and Essence of Carol and Poison in the Russian Room one after the other. Different head spaces, different times, but all hit highs you cannot deny.

So it is with Green Pajama Country!. From the big opening (think the theme from The Big Country) to the closing theme (think Gunsmoke, the radio series), they pack in their take on hick country (Honky Tonk Girls {at the Little Red Hen}), the Brinsley Schwarz-like Last Night Was Like the End of the World, the very pop-py (with tinges of fifties rock) Desiree, down and dirgey swamp rock (She's Gone, She's Gone, She's Gone, Daddy She's Gone). All solid. All Pajamas.

My favorites, though (I always have favorites when it comes to the Pajamas), are Winter of '23, which starts with the line “In the Winter of '23, it snowed like a bastard” before slipping into a mixture of Americana and psych which sends shivers up my spine it's so good, and Why Good Men Go Bad, which I swear to God has every damn hook and line I've heard or felt in my decades of listening to music. No one could write or sing songs like that (thank you, Jeff Kelly) nor could any band make it work as well (my compliments to Joe Ross, Laura Vanderpool, Scott Vanderpool and Eric Lichter).

This is only the latest in a series of what may end up being a monumental accomplishment in music (how about a pool to guess the number of albums these guys end up with?). And they're not stopping here. They have already posted notice that they are working on a new video of Jeff's The Queen Bee Is Dead, a precursor to a January 2012 album release. Will these guys never cease? I, for one, hope not.

Over the years, I have hammered my buddy Howie about his collecting anything and everything Beatles and Monkees. I may have to backtrack a bit. The Green Pajamas, decades after my exposure to Book of Hours, makes me want to do just that with them. Howie, I apologize. I now understand.

Listen here...

Watch video here...

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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