GREEN PAJAMAS – Poison In The Russian Room (Hidden Agenda)

Another column, another album from The Green Pajamas. After the stop-gap of ‘Hidden Minutes’ we have the new studio album from the band, and whereas ‘Hidden Minutes’ showcased their abilities as a pop group, ‘Poison…’ is most definitely a rock album. The crunching guitar riff of ‘The Lonesome End Of The Lake’ heralds a much harder sound, and Jeff Kelly’s keening guitar lines help to make this a fantastic opener. The title track is one of Eric Lichter’s gentle ballads, and while I still think he has a long way to come to match Kelly as a songwriter, his songs are getting much better, and this is a fine example of a lovely, melodic ballad. ‘Any Way The Wind Blows’ is Kelly’s turn with a ballad, and this one is enhanced by some atmospheric backwards guitar. ‘Christina Dancing’ is a great mid-tempo rocker, perfect for allowing Kelly to pull off a searing solo, and the addition of the orchestra just for the coda gives it a strange power. ‘This Angel’s On Fire’ drags out the riffing guitars again and adds a raunchy sax break, while Lichter’s ‘Mr Ivan’ has a Parisian feel thanks to subtle use of accordion, and ‘Suicide Subways’ is his best offering of this set, both in terms of composition and singing. That concludes the first part of this CD, which for some reason is divided in two, with the second part having a subtitle of ‘In Search Of The Elusive Fairy Queen And Some Pleasure Unknown’. Whether this makes it some sort of concept album I can’t tell, but the good thing is that the music doesn’t change, as after a very short introductory interlude the guitars are back in force for ‘The Fairy Queen I’. Craig Flory’s languid sax on ‘Who’s That Calling’ gives it a laid-back jazzy feel, but that is just for starters, as seven minutes later the band have revved it up to full throttle to end this superb piece with a psychedelic freakout. ‘Some Pleasure Unknown’ is the first time that I have heard the Pajamas attempt the blues, and they pull it off admirably - as I had no doubt that they would – with Kelly delivering a great bluesy guitar solo. The album ends with two reprises. Firstly a revisiting of ‘The Fairy Queen’ in a slower and much, much heavier version, followed by a reprise of the title track in a stripped-back, acoustic style. I know I say this every time, but this is a truly fantastic album, easily knocking most other mainstream group’s offerings into a cocked hat, and why this band aren’t huge remains a mystery to me. It is also one of their best ever albums, and that is saying something considering their huge catalogue, with enough twists and turns to keep the listener interested even after numerous playings. Do yourself a favour and at least check out their myspace page to hear just a fraction of what your are missing out on.
   The Lonesome
 End Of The Lake
Any Way The
 Wind Blows