The Green Pajamas- Poison in the Russian Room
A Green Pajamas Masterpiece!, Tom June 14, 2009
Since 1984 Jeff Kelly has put out 24 albums with the Green Pajamas, 7 solo albums and 2 albums with Goblin Market, his band with Laura Vanderpool of the PJ’s and Capping Day. I’ve got them all. Some of them have been pivotal pieces in my musical life. In 1983, I bought their first cassette release, “Summer of Lust,” at a small Seattle record store, absolutely loved it, tracked them down and made a few records with Jeff on my little Green Monkey Records label. By 1997, I had long since moved on to other things when the PJs put out the brilliant “Strung Behind the Sun.” As I told Jeff, it made me want to listen to music again. In 2000 I had the pleasure of doing a little work on the fine “This Is Where We Disappear.” Along the way there have been many more albums, some better than others.
And now we arrive at “Poison in the Russian Room.” Plain and simple, this is a great record. It is one of their very best, on par with “Strung Behind the Sun,” “All Clues Lead to Megan’s Bed” and “Ghosts Of Love.” Or maybe even better.
So what makes it so damn good? Sound. Songs. Performance. Magic. At a sonic level, this album is roams between powerful and gorgeous. The album opens with the in-your-face guitar riff of “The Lonesome End of the Lake.” By the time you get to Craig Florey’s sax on “Who’s That Calling” the sound has become lush and pleasurable. There is an attention to detail and craft in the production of this album that draws you in.
Songs? A great record has great songs. This does. “This Angels on Fire.” “Some Pleasure Unknown.” “Suicide Subways.” “Queen of Broken Hearts.” Too many to count. This album delivers inventive and perfect playing and pacing. It dances from mood to mood as each three-minute minuet spins between the band’s three singers while remaining a united whole.
So what, at the end of the day, makes this great? It has all the same elements of every Green Pajamas record. Rocking pop-songs with a pinch of psychedelia and great guitar solos. I get it. I know those elements well. All I can tell you is that when it works it is magic and this is magic.
If music still matters to you in your life or ever did, you want this. It is a record for the ages.