'Studio & Live 1999-2002' is the follow up to Brain Donor's 'Love, Peace, and F*ck' album. This new record is more satisfying than the debut disc.
Brain Donor is the hard rock power trio consisting of former Teardrop Explodes frontman / solo artist Julian Cope, and two former members of Spiritualized, Doggen and Kevlar. Julian plays bass (and a bit of guitar on his 1971 Gibson doubleneck), Doggen plays guitar (with plenty of lead guitar solos), and Kevlar plays drums.
Teardrop Explodes were part of Liverpool's psychedelic scene, influenced by Scott Walker as much as the NYC band Television. Julian Cope the solo artist was a Robyn Hitchcock styled eccentric who put out interesting records and usually performed unaccompanied on acoustic guitar in live performances. Spiritualized is a band fronted by Jason Pierce, famous for sacking his band so many times he could compete with Mark E. Smith and The Fall.
Together as Brain Donor, Julian H, Doggen and Kevlar tie together thirty years of music with one heavy sound. Brain Donor jam as hard as Cream or Grand Funk Railroad, go crazy like Iggy & the Stooges, emote grandly like early Mott the Hoople, and cover Van Halen (their cover of Atomic Punk is on the live disc).
In the CD booklet's 'Popfile' (some stuff you probably never knew about the Donor), Julian lists his fave band as The Doors. The closing track of CD1 is a 9:20 track called Messages. Messages has vocals which could make you think of Jim Morrison. However, Messages is not one of my favorite tracks on this set. Four of the eight songs (all are new studio tracks) on disc 1 are favorites of mine.
The CD starts off with Schizadelic K.O. The title honors Iggy's 'Metallic KO' LP, but the sound of Schizadelic K.O. is fairly mellow, closer to Teardrop Explodes than Brain Donor have ever gone before. As the song progresses there is riffing that resembles T Rex a lot. I really like Schizadelic K.O. a lot. It does not meander or bore at any time during its 6.25 length. There is plenty of Doggen's airborne guitar solos, a good vocal melody, and Julian playing his steel strung acoustic guitar.
My Pagan Ass is a high energy song modeled after The Stooges first 2 albums. It is one of my favorites too. My Pagan Ass could almost be a Buff Medways song.
Like a Motherf*cker has open chord strumming like Julian used to chime out on his hollow body Rickenbacker at Teardrop Explodes shows. But the vocals are miles away from that band. Is this song about Johnny Thunders or does it just rip off his favorite saying (The Heartbreakers only LP was called 'LAMF')? I don't really know. It is hard to make out what Julian is singing over the Tales of Brave Ulysses (Cream) styled riff.
The Two Towers has this cool riff that circles in like The Great Hunt on a Norwegian night. Julian goes crazy on this song too. His vocals are practically frothing. I like The Two Towers mostly for that cool music break when the riff spirals in. The organ in that riff has a funky feel like you would hear in the soundtrack to the film Across 110th Street. I can't describe the sound too well, but if you hear the song you will know what I mean.
White Van is my favorite track on this set. You can't help but think of James Williamson's over the top guitar solos on the 'Raw Power' LP as you listen to this song. Near the end of White Van the guitar sounds like Richard Lloyd in Television.
Love, Peace, & F*ck has call and answer vocals repeating the title. It is an OK track, but nothing special to me.
Get Back On It sounds like Julian is trying to write his own Van Halen song. It is somewhat melodic, and it does have slashing guitars like Paul Weller used to play in The Jam, but ultimately it is not one of my faves (I never really liked Van Halen).
Messages is an acid rock quiet/loud freak out with Julian's Jim Morrison inspired vocals.
Disc 2 is all live tracks. The only track I would listen to more than once is the opener, Raising Power. Raising Power starts off the disc and introduces the band in a cheesy 'Kiss Alive' kind of way. This 3.17 instrumental would rev up any crowd, with bombs and neat electric sounds.
The songs on the live disc are Raising Power, She Saw Me Coming, Brain Donor, Get Off Your Pretty Face, Atomic Punk, U-Know!, Whole Lotta Loki, Gimme Space, and Odin's Gift to his Mother. While each song has interesting parts, I would take the studio disc over the live one anytime.
To be fair, I have never liked live discs, and Brain Donor seems to be a band designed for the live experience. In the Popfiles section of the CD booklet, each member stated that their favorite piece of clothing is their 5inch platform Donor boots.
Like those boots, Brain Donor seem to be a band best strapped on and enjoyed on a stage. I give Julian credit for having the courage to follow his muse with Brain Donor. He has a long history of creating exciting music, and Brain Donor is a rightful part of the legacy of Julian H, Doggen, and Kevlar.