Green Pajama Country

With its cheery explanation point, Green Pajama Country! comes across as not only a gimmick, but a jokey one at that. But Seattle's finest psych rockers are no strangers to thematic LPs - ten years ago the band released The Caroler's Song and In a Glass Darkly, back-to-back EPs related to Christmas and J.S. Le Fanu respectively. The question here isn't one of intent, but follow-through. "Honky Tonk Girls (At the Little Red Hen)" certainly fits the bill, evoking its titular milieu in sound as well as tongue-in-cheek libretto. The dusty plea "Father, Father Do You Wait" and the waltzing tribute "The Night Passed Over Into Day" fold in overt C&W moves as well. The title track, which both opens and close the record, sounds like the theme song for any number of 60s TV westerns.

 

But to call this strictly a country record would be erroneous. For most of it, the Green PJs simply downplay their psychedelic rock tendencies and emphasize their folk side, developing little that would put this record on the country charts. (Not that that's any kind of pride-inducing feat these days.) That's hardly a problem, though, unless one is a stickler for the literal. After all, leader Jeff Kelly is at his best when he's spinning a dark tale of brokenhearted murder, as on "Pass Me Another Whiskey" and "Desiree," or enigmatic Gothic mysteries like "Dark Water (In the Wires)" and "Winter of '23." The nine-minute "She's Gone, She's Gone, She's Gone, Daddy She's Gone" comes right out of the PJs playbook, with a folk melody driven by power chords and a mind slowly crumbling to pieces over a lost love. The straightforward "I Just Wish That She'd Love Me" almost abandons stylistic affiliation altogether, recalling, if anything, the Rolling Stones' rootsy ballads.

 

 

Ultimately, Green Pajama Country! alludes not so much to a musical genre, but to the artistic plane on which the Green Pajamas reside. Given the band's continued commitment to quality work, that title is perfectly accurate.


 

MICHAEL TOLAND