Julian Cope’s Album of the Month

Dan McGuire - Jamnation

Dan McGuire

AOTM #62, July 2005ce
Released 2005 on Prestidigitation
  1. King Rat (13.20)
  2. Conga Jam (9.50)
  3. Dead Man (14.36)
  4. Poetry Rock Freekout (12.04)
  5. Time to Cry (8.56)
  6. Green Song (15.52)

Dan McGuire as Charles Ward

One time, when we were recording at Rockfield Studios in the border country between England and South Wales, the unkempt superstar longhair studio owner Charles Ward brought us some milk and eggs, driving across the yard with his fingers gripped so tightly upon the steering wheel that I thought he must be on some seven day Toblerone binge. But no, despite his enormous wealth, Charles still chose to drive a battered and weathered early ‘70s Austin whose interior was so clapped out that the back of the driver’s seat had collapsed during the journey and now he was forced to cling to the steering wheel in order to stay upright. This is rock’n’roll and this is improvised genius, getting to your destination any way you possibly can. And this Album of the Month by Toledo, Ohio poet Dan McGuire opts for precisely the same manner of improvisation to achieve its relentless and unadulterated melange of Bozo Dionysian mung worship. It’s a formidable poetic commentary rapped over proto-metal meets heavy riffola of the type that every 16-year-old longhair should still be required to play. Hell, and this McGuire doesn’t even bother having a motherfucking band, brothers and sisters. This Holy Fool just sends out his sub-sub-Burton Cummings delivery (“American schoolteacher, American Lesbian, American bitch…” LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT-period, natch!) over pre-recorded generic neverending pulsating time-honoured faceless ever-soloing hard psyche/sike culled from just about everywhere on the planet that’s ever played rock’n’roll. Yup, JAMNATION was achieved by Dan McGuire’s cunning method of jamming poetry over received stuff by the JPT Scare Band (whom I’ve heard before only via several of Plastic Crimewave’s superb CD compilations), by those marvey Japanese clichemongers Eternal Elizium, and by two configurations of Denmark’s Gas Giant, one version who go under the catchily unmemorable name ILD HU (more intuitive non-career movers, see how McGuire picks ‘em?). I dunno if he knew these musicians personally – some are current, and some I presume are long dead. But who cares who’s playing it all when the end FX are so useful. Like a teenage girl who drenches every meal in ketchup, I ain’t interested in the ingredients, just the overall result. Some band from across the ocean, some band from outta state, some band from Scandinavia, and some one-trick pony heavy band from the ‘60s… in McGuire’s own words* “people from anywhere other than in MY rehearsal space so I don’t have to breath the same polluted air as these sociopathic alienated musician motherfuckers, just excavate some sense out of their raw nightly emissions in the comparative comfort of mine own home.” McGuire calls his friends up and says: “Can I use your fucking song for my record ‘cause I did already, so fuck ya!” You know, the way it is – like ’69 Sky Saxon’s Iron Age pesterings or the unimaginative side of Roky’s Bleib Alien. Oh, but this is so much finer, so much more genuinely barbarian, so much more NECESSARY and NOW! McGuire’s rant succeeds because he’s aware of leaving space for the jams to breath, but – like some grey squirrel raised on mutoid GM acorn – happy enough copping cheekfulls of Morrison’s AN AMERICAN PRAYER without the unsightly late 70s discoid influence. Yup, this is the Kim Fowley proto-Iggy response to Steppenwolf’s John Kay’s Eastern European take on The Doors; or The Zodiac’s Cyrus Faryar’s wholly inauthentic ‘reading the script for a dolphin documentary’ delivery fed through the STREET HASSLE-cynical Lou Reed-through-an-Armand (Kill Me, I Ain’t Never Died Before) Schaubroeck filter. And don’t it just smoke ma pole down to the cheroot. Don’t know about you, but as an Anglo-Viking with millennia on this landmass, I’d always hated the American quest for AUTHENTICITY. So often, when American artists yearn for authenticity, they cannot even approach it. And yet, when those artists are confident enough to create from the fountainhead of No Past At All, then how sweet and round and new and old and timeless is its Druidical rightness. But you know me, kiddies, and what a cunt I am for a cliché, because only those who exist on the higher plain of creation understand that the cliché was born out of its being RIGHTEOUS enough to repeat. Like I said to Randy Apostle the other day in the studio, no, no, no, it’s gotta sound more like everybody else, breaking no boundaries, just like Pete Townshend wrote in “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere”:

“Gonna follow the lines that were laid before.”

So, what does it sound like? Wah guitars, Ash Ra Tempel/Amon Duul 2-takes on Detroit hi-energy rock’n’roll, plus Hapshash percussion and campfires and lots of drugs in the darkness. It sounds inspirational and visionary and like every great freeform rant. You’ve heard this all before already but never in this order. This is the new order. It digs a new hole and leaves it unfilled and ready for us all to excavate further. It’s a vocal delivery from the other end of the universe that dares to leave huge swathes of instrumental passages intact, McGuire only ever interjecting briefly before then backing off so that the waves of tsonic tsunami can rammel ya on his behalf. And Dan McGuire controls his situation better than every other front man, because this pragmatic motherfucker won’t even have musicians in his room, just picks pre-recorded events from the vats of raw thang lined up on his LP and CD and DAT and cassette shelves, thereby eliminating the dubious merits of employing a drummer who won’t eat the food your missus has lovingly prepared for everyone, instead choosing to raid the fucking fridge for all the best on tomorrow’s menu. Anyway, having successfully already avoided being around them during the moment of musical achievement (and thereby also avoiding their bodily functions and predilections for laying around watching losers attach parts of their body to a car and having it drive off on TV shows such as JACKASS), McGuire doesn’t then pick only small snatches of riffs from these musical ensembles, neither. Look at the times of these suckers (thirteen minutes twenty, fourteen minutes thirty-six, fifteen minutes fifty-two!!!) and imagine them as great slabs of meditational ooze, confusing the senses into thinking it’s yesterday with their hoary repeated licks straight out of the dinosaur swamps. On “Time to Cry” McGuire’s particular mention of his hatred of the Jann Wenner-imposed rock’n’roll past with references to Deep Purple and Grand Funk together in one particular rant shows that this poet has nailed precisely where he’s aiming the ladle, when serving up from the Universe’s all-purpose sonic slopbucket. This superb album is something to grow and grow on us all because it sounds like everything we’ve known and loved forever, but it’s 21st century and it’s The All New Adventures Of… with none of the original cast!

Uh, Look Out!