Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Jerusalem


Released 1972 on Deram
Reviewed by achuma, 08/06/2006ce


Yet another classic heavy group from the early 70’s, destined to obscurity. It couldn’t have helped in later years that Vernon Joyson in his Borderline book ‘Tapestry Of Delights’, besides admittedly accurately describing the music as “bone-crunching heavy rock”, pretty much dismissed them by saying their album “doesn’t offer anything musically that isn’t available much more excitingly elsewhere. Skip this one”! To my ears, nothing could be further from the truth, if heavy rock of this vintage is your thing. The album’s a little monochromatic I guess, but that’s because there’s raw, heavy rockin’ excitement plastered wall-to-wall, no room for too much subtlety or ‘tastefulness’, and it doesn’t really sound the same as any other group, but ploughs its own furrow like a record cutter the size of agricultural machinery.

Hailing from Salisbury, these five young gents, all appearing to be only a couple of years out of high school – Lynden Williams on vocals, Bob Cooke on ‘first’ guitar, Bill Hinde on ‘second’ guitar, Paul Dean on bass and Ray Sparrow on drums and percussion – were reputedly connected with Pussy in some way. I haven’t been able to unearth a full line-up for that band (a great one, by the way, who made one album of heavy psych rock) so I don’t know if any of these guys were ex-Pussy, or just mutual friends. In any case, Jerusalem’s publishing company was Pussy Music Ltd., and they all came out of a pussy to begin with (well, I don’t know when caesarean sections first became common, but I’m getting pretty off-track and maybe off-colour here!). Through some stroke of luck they attracted the enthused attention of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, who took them under his wing and into the studio. His words on the back of the record do justice to his youthful charges and their wild muse, and it’s apt to repeat them here –
“This is the first album by Jerusalem, a band which excites me very much, they are rough, raw and doomy with their own strong identity. As they are young and a bit green, they don’t follow many rules, so their material is almost crude – but still immensely powerful in content. I believe that, whenever possible, the work of writers and players in their formative stages should be recorded; before inhibition and self-consciousness set in, before fire and aggression die down, and while they are still absorbing influences and doing things which others might consider uncool. Most important though, before they might develop that self imposed rigidity which afflicts so many. I hope none of these things happen to Jerusalem, we’ll just have to wait and see, this album is just in case. I hope you like it as much as I do.” These comments could easily also be applied to Stray’s wicked debut, reviewed earlier.

Side one kicks off with the big-booted ‘Frustration’ [5:17], charging straight off the bat with clangy, grinding dual guitars riding out over a sharp drum beat and solid rolling bass. It’s fast, agitated but desolate heavy rock that sounds somewhat like an organless Deep Purple circa ‘In Rock’ crossed with Crushed Butler and early Stray, and that’s pretty much the kind of sound spread over this whole album. There’s a nice’n’nasty jam-out in the middle as drums and guitar hold the riffy beat letting the bass and lead guitar free to wander, before bringing it down for some vocals& guitar sparring. His lady love is bringing him down too and just can’t understand him, she’s mean and lies... gimmesome relief! ‘Cause “the only time you’ll be happy is when you see me die”, and the only salve in the mean-time is some more scorching rock.
‘Hooded Eagle’ [4:50] is another heavy stomper, Williams’ vocals hoarse as hell as he screams out the lyrics, still desolate and anguished but somehow not depressing in delivery, and more evidence that no matter how bad things are getting, good rock can keep you patched together enough to see it through. And your worst times can make great rock poetry, with lines like “alright this martyr screamed / you’ve nailed me to my bed / imprisoned me to my dreams / locked inside my head”, and “the panther lifts his blackened paw / and stalks the countryside / searching for the thing to die / then starts the midnight ride” howled out fiercly.
‘I See The Light’ [3:53] starts out with a slow bluesy plod, gutsy drawling vocals slithering out amongst the stop-start riffery, and here you’d think for sure it’s gonna stay like this, like most heavy bands of this era did for at least one track, but youth is defiant, and it soon peels off seamlessly into a wicked galloping dual-guitar riff that’s almost Three Man Army kinda stuff, though not really conventionally heavy as far as that the guitars are driving clean and there’s no chords, but regardless, it boogies damn hard and doesn’t let up with it’s insistent beat and tight-as-a-fishes-ass driving unity, until Williams moans “I don’t wanna kill no one...” and it all crashes to a close.
‘Murderer’s Lament’ [3:40] opens with crashing riffs before becoming something more organically mellow and melodic like you’d expect from a lament, nothing brilliant but very nice all the same thankyou, and later alternating with more big chords and fiddly bits. It’s a pretty dark piece which slips by if you’re not paying attention to the lyrics, being a sick kind of love song as well as the murdering bit... you get the idea when Williams sings “when the night comes I must go / loneliness has become my foe / must find that woman who is best / lay her first then break her neck”. You kinda like to think this is one of those fictional character pieces rather than an example of the band’s view of women, to say the least! But, as a character piece it’s suitably creepy-yet-innocent in a similar way to Comus, not to say the music is particularly comparable.
‘When The Wolf Sits’ [4:49] is a dumb, simple riff-slammer that’s more kinda like Second Life/Tiger B. Smith, with big fat chords, wailing guitar, punch-drunk bass and straight-ahead solid drums all strutting in your face like some massive guy you just don’t want to fuck with. And, it’s yet another song about death and doom, and a bit of carnal lovin’ while we’re at it.
‘Midnight Steamer’ [4:43] opens side two with more strident up-against-the-walls-motherfuckers riffery, and do you think with a title like ‘Midnight Steamer’ and such an up-beat swing to the hard-ass music they might be on about something happy for a change? I mean, they are telling us “come on in, the water’s fine”, right? Yeah, but this steamer seems to be the boat that takes your sorry skin to Hades, “three hooded Sirens are your crew, your captain is a skeleton”... We’re left in little doubt by lines like “in the dawn of the evening / people make love to make death / your coffin is on a cabin shelf / your journey is very long / just come on, just come on”... At least they stop short of explicitly suggesting that you top yourself, but whoever’s writing the lyrics sounds like he ain’t too happy with life – but they look like such nice, smiling, happy young lads on the record sleeve! Long-haired, yes, but you could take them around to have tea and scones with your gran by the looks of ‘em.
‘Primitive Man’ [5:45] is one of the best and rawest tracks on the album, lots of wicked and varied heavy riffs and changes around a more straight-forward main riff, with absolutely grinding verses, Williams really belting it out and ruining his vocal cords in the process. The only complaint is also a factor on some other tracks, in that some of the heaviest and rawest guitar parts are placed a little low in the mix, slightly subduing what was obviously even more of a snarling beast as actually played live or in the studio. But, a small complaint, as the music still rocks like a gravel truck with fairly Sabbatherian heaviness in some parts, and the quality shines through beyond mere sonic engineering misjudgements. Lyrically, it’s a granite-carved ode to our distant ancestors and a better life, and at last we get some positivity...
“Primitive man, you knew what life was
primitive man, you can tell us because
primitive man, respected the earth’s trust
and primitive man, you knew only lust
Primitive woman, as natural as the day
ancient woman, with the men did play
ancient woman, lived her life with love
and ancient woman, saw beauty in a dove
Now I can see right through you
new man, you are evil through and through
but she and I together
can overcome forever
Primitive man can be you
ancient woman can be too
so love is love forever
why don’t you get it together?”
My thoughts exactly, guys! Not to say we need to revert to using stone-age tools, but we’ve got to get back to the roots we’ve forgotten lying deep within the earth, and live life with an untamed fervour, or we’re as good as dead, body and soul.
‘Beyond The Grave’ [6:07] starts out like a doomy prog piece, vocals almost Peter Hammill here over an exotic moody backing not unlike debut-era East Of Eden in part, before dropping into gear with another familiar locked-groove riff ride to hell that could almost be from that classic first East Of Eden album if you were to whack a bit of eastern-melodicised sax over the top and turn down the heavy rock quotient a bit. This swings between the two extremes over the rest of the song, though the vocals become less Hammill-like nearer the end.
‘She Came Like A Bat From Hell’ [5:34] sounds, I guess, like what early AC/DC might have sounded like if they were a UK band from a couple of years earlier (ie. 1972), still mighty boozy and swinging a mean punch. In the vocal bits Williams sounds like he’s shredding every remaining functioning particle of his vocal cords just to get it over with as raucously as he can, and though it’s not the most raucous track on the album, it still swings on hard and nasty in the tradition of the previous tracks, and there’s even a snatch of ‘Highway Chile’ stuck in there every now and then, fitting right in to the party rather than sounding like a cheap rip-off for the sake of it.

Jerusalem’s only other release was a 45, the excellent non-album ‘Kamikaze Moth’ backed with ‘Frustration’ from the LP. I have seen and heard a bootleg LP reissue that includes ‘Kamikaze Moth’ as a bonus track; the CD reissue I’ve got (seems to be a legitimate licensed one, in a cardboard gatefold mini-LP sleeve, from Universal Music Japan – has copious liner notes in Japanese that I wish I could read!) doesn’t. Jerusalem started (and maybe finished) recording a second album shortly after, but unfortunately it never saw the light of day. At least they left one hell of an album behind for us to enjoy. By the way, this Jerusalem is nothing to do with the (presumably) German group who had some tracks on a split Long Hair CD with Violence Fog.


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