GREEN PAJAMAS - Ten White Stones (Hidden Agenda)

To celebrate ten years of making music The Green Pajamas went into Studio V in Seattle in April this year and recorded a selection of old and new songs 'live in the studio'. Remembering how much I enjoyed their previous live album I invested immediately, and once again I was not disappointed. The difference between the studio GP's and the live entity is astonishing, with all the stops pulled out for the latter resulting in some of their most powerful performances. The eight new songs are all up the standard that I have come to expect from the band, while the three older ones (two from 2002's 'Northern Gothic' and one from 1999's 'Seven Fathoms Down And Falling') are beefed up for the live arena. A couple of the tracks have post-production overdubs of organ or guitar, but other that that this is pretty much what you would hear if you went to see them live, and Kelly's guitar playing really shines in this context. Neil Young is obviously an influence in his solos, with his playing on here being some of the best that I have ever heard from his time with the band. 'The Cruel Night' starts with some guitar reminiscent of cruelly ignored US band Eleventh Dream Day, and that band's influence appears many times on here, while Laura Weller's 'Holden Caulfield' ends with a controlled feedback solo. Eric Lichter's 'Mrs. Rafferty' is one of his best songs so far, and really blends in with the other numbers instead of standing out like they used to do. 'For S' is an eleven and a half minute tour de force, and is destined to become a firm favourite with GP fans, and the album closes with a cover of the old Hank Williams tune 'I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)' - not normally my style of music, but done by the GP's it sounds fine to me. The whole album shows another side to the band that just might convince people who had written them off as a bit twee that they can really rock. To round off this anniversary year there is another studio CD to come, and I for one am counting the days.