Jeffrey Lee Pierce was a musical maverick, until his untimely and premature death in 1996. He was the front man in the Gun Club, whose swampy blues roar never received the recognition they probably deserved (largely due to Pierce’s well documented struggles with alcohol and drugs).
The Gun club members went on to arguably greater things – I saw the Fur Bible (Patricia Morrison and Kid Congo Powers) in the hangar-esque Gloucester Leisure Centre in 1985 supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees on the Tinderbox Tour. Kid Congo Powers went on to play with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Patricia Morrison went on to play with the Sisters of Mercy (Mk II).
Pierce left many incomplete songs behind, and these were used in 2009 as the basis for a compilation LP – “We are only Riders” (bringing together many old Bad Seeds). On finding the cassettes of half-finished material:
The sound quality was terrible, but was good enough to make out the songs, which were excellent. The three country songs were ‘Ramblin’ Mind’, ‘Constant Waiting’ and ‘Free To Walk’. In addition to the terrible audio quality, there was also no level of performance on these recordings, as Jeffrey was merely showing Cypress the material. Releasing these songs from the cassette was therefore out of the question. But if Cypress could get them properly recorded, that would be different. Also, because there were no definitive versions of these songs, and there was no idea how Jeffrey himself would have envisaged the completed work, then why stop at one version? It would be fascinating to hear how different artists might interpret these songs from this most basic and crude of templates – the cassette!
And they have just(-ish) released Volume Two of the Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project, another compilation LP – “The Journey is Long” – featuring the usual suspects from the first LP (Nick Cave, many ex-Bad Seeds, Lydia Lunch, Debbie Harry). and Nick Cave has released the excellent “City in Pain”:
1. CITY IN PAIN – NICK CAVE
2. I’M GOING UPSTAIRS – HUGO RACE
3. FROM DEATH TO TEXAS – STEVE WYNN
4. THE BREAKING HANDS – MARK LANEGAN & ISOBEL CAMPBELL
5. THE JUNGLE BOOK – THE AMBER LIGHTS
6. ROSE’S BLUES – BERTRAND CANTAT, PASCAL HUMBERT, WARREN ELLIS, CYPRESS GROVE
7. ZONAR ROZE – THALIA ZEDEK & CHRIS BROKAW
8. L.A. COUNTY JAIL BLUES – CYPRESS GROVE
9. I WANNA BE YOU – BARRY ADAMSON
10. SONNY BOY – MICK HARVEY
11. BOOK OF LOVE – VERTICAL SMILE
12. BODY AND SOUL – ASTRO-UNICORN
13. THE BRINK – LYDIA LUNCH
14. THE BREAKING HANDS – NICK CAVE & DEBORAH HARRY
15. IN MY ROOM – TEX PERKINS & LYDIA LUNCH
16. THE JUNGLE BOOK – TAV FALCO’S PANTHER BURNS
17. ST. MARK’S PLACE – MICK HARVEY
18. AIN’T MY PROBLEM BABY – THE JIM JONES REVUE
That was a difficult time for him. I think he was going through a lot of problems but he played his cards pretty close to his chest, you know. He was very troubled at that time. We would drink and take drugs and sit and talk. He had a thing about the Vietnam War, for some reason. He was very well read on the subject. And dinosaurs. He talked a lot about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs and the Vietnam war, I think, were his two major topics of conversation … and Japanese horror movies.