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Album Review

THE GREEN PAJAMAS
New Blip On an Old Radar Screen

It wasn't that long ago that Kim the Waitress was making the rounds on the Seattle gossip circuit--- new song, new band, Green Monkey, blah, blah, blah--- and all of a sudden everything hit warp speed and I woke up not in Seattle but somewhere in the bowels of Oregon clutching two cassettes and a 45. The two cassettes, left over from that long ago Seattle dream: an EP containing songs to save Pop Music (Radio Van Gogh. I Hope I Get It All is still among my favorite pop songs of all time) and a compilation tape from KYYX (I called it Radio For the Young). The 45 was by an unknown quantity known as The Green Pajamas who were at that time venting hormones by writing about rather than dating girls (Kim the Waitress b/w Jennifer – Green Monkey 012). Upon awakening, all I knew was that Radio Van Gogh had gone by the wayside as had KYYX, but I vaguely remembered having heard something fairly recent about The Green Pajamas, or so I thought. Something... but I couldn't get my mind around it.

A short while ago, walking down the street minding my own business, I turned the corner and ran smack dab into Poison In the Russian Room. At first, I didn't recognize them but as I looked closer, their eyes peering from the darkness beneath hooded parkas, I began to see remnants of--- but it couldn't be!--- The Green Pajamas. Older, more mature, wizened almost, their collective breaths wheezed music I'd not heard before, definitely not that of Kim the Waitress. They reached out, we shook hands and I took them home. They had stories to tell.

And what stories! Great stories, wonderful stories, about fairy queens and dancing queens and movie queens and strange stories about eerie places and weird people. They performed them more than told them and all I had to do was close my eyes and be transported to a whole other world of music and imagination. Those worlds changed with each story/song and by the time they were done, I was transformed. We departed good friends, they to spread their music among those willing to listen, myself to do the same through word of mouth and words of fingers. It is their passion and it is fast becoming mine as well.

In this post-Music Industry world, a hurricane of music hurtles past us every day and sometimes every minutes, or so it seems. I liken it to white noise, this massive storm of melody, harmony and sometimes dissonance, and it becomes harder and harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. Well, the good artists do it for you occasionally, as The Green Pajamas do here. Put a thousand stereos in a big room playing a thousand different albums and a lot of people who really know and love music would find their way to this album.

Why? Well, they load you up with a wide variety of styles, from the music noir of Who's That Calling (seven-plus minutes of eerie backalley blues/jazz/rock straight out of a sleazy 50s crime thriller) to the flamenco-tinged Cristina Dancing (complete with outstanding and all too short orchestral finale) to the AC/DC crunch of The Lonesome End of the Lake (not to worry, the guitar sound is all they borrowed and it works well, indeed). Queen of Broken Hearts is perfect for Laura Weller's vocal delivery and the harmonies are music magic (along with the chord progression), as they are on the amazing Any Way the Wind Blows, Jeff Kelly's moving tribute to silent film actress Louise Brooks. They play the blues (Some Pleasure Unknown) and rock out a bit (This Angel's On Fire).

And they give you magic mushrooms in the intensely psychedelic The Fairy Queen I, with its layered guitars and organ and backward guitar leads and percussion that is way more than percussion, it sets the rhythm so well. Spend an afternoon picking this apart and you'll know why they invented equalizers. Paisley and tangerine dreams and incense and maybe peppermints all wrapped up into a package a little over four minutes long, the best four minutes of music I've spent this year, I do believe. Of course, you couldn't possibly record it without version 2, so they do that as well (The Fairy Queen II) and, less embellished, it still hits the mark.

I still haven't figured out what Poison In the Russian Room is all about, but it gives me shivers every time I listen close. It is a siren in the night and sends chills up my spine. Thing is, these days these guys seem to have a reason for everything they do and a song like that has to have come from somewhere. This is not just McCartney being out of step on Abbey Road.

If this doesn't turn out to be my album of the year, it will be tied for the honor. There is an incredible depth to The Green Pajamas' music and each time I listen, I hear something different while familiarizing myself with songs previously heard. It is a combination of excellent music and stirring adventure, I guess, and they give huge doses of both.

My friends tell me that the Pajamas have been recording, as a group and individually, ever since Kim the Waitress. Somehow, I missed it all and figure that if I really apply myself, I might catch up in a year or two. I am visiting their catch-all website quite regularly and sampling songs and am calculating how much I will have to give up to afford their entire catalog. That jump from Kim to the Fairy Queen is like going cold turkey. I need some interim Pajamas' to fill the void.

This will be fun, he cackled, happily rubbing his hands together... I want this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one here, and this one.......

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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