REVIEW: Brant Bjork – Jalamanta (Remixed and Remastered 2019)

BRANT BJORK – Jalamanta (Originally 1999, Remixed and Remastered 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds)

When the needle hits wax it won’t be long,
You got your radio tuned but it won’t play this song.

20 years ago, Jalamanta was one of my favourite albums in the world.  This is my third copy.  Partly instrumental, partly vocal, but 100% Brant Bjork.  It was his first solo album, and he played virtually everything himself.  The laid-back desert vibes are perfect for a summer evening chill-out.  Humid, sparse, exotic, varied compositions take you across a hazy landscape.

In 2019, Brant and engineer Tony Mason remixed Jalamanta, to take it the place they “always wanted it to go”.  The remixes are largely subtle, just making the album sound bigger in your ears.  The vocals might be a little less buried.  It’s still raw, and sparse, and all the things you always liked about Jalamanta.  Some songs have more noticeable differences.  More guitar on “Toot”.  Tracks tend to run longer than their previous fade-outs.  But there are things I enjoyed about the original that aren’t here.  The echoey lead vocal on “Toot” — “Cat scan, cat scan…”  That echo is gone, maybe so the sonic field wouldn’t be too crowded with that louder backing guitar?

This remix will never replace an original, especially when it was one of my favourites 20 years ago.  What is “Jalamanta” made of that makes it so tasty?  Only the most basic of ingredients.  Rolling bass and drums, simple unaffected guitar parts, and Brant’s laid back singing style.

Yeah, the man shakes me down and that’s why I’m broke.
The rich man’s got all the green but it ain’t the kind you smoke.
So we turn up the rock, and we roll it slow.
We’re always flying high, and the ride is always low.

Snakey guitars jab in and out of the speakers — one song is even called “Cobra Jab”.   Other tunes are more aggressive.  “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians” has a relentless and simple riff, with the snakey guitars carrying the melody over it like a wave.  Brant’s quiet vocal is hypnotic.  By contrast, “Defender of the Oleander” has a barely-there main riff while the snakey licks do all the brilliant melodic work.  Brant goes for hypnotic again on “Her Brown Blood”, a speedy run through the desert, with a cool monotone vocal right in the middle of your head.

Whichever version of Jalamanta you happen upon, you are guaranteed an incredible listening experience.  The new remix is certainly more three-dimensional, and will sound better on your big system.  But you will lose some of the charm of the original.  The 2009 vinyl used to be the way to go, with a beautiful full-colour booklet and Blue Oyster Cult cover “Take Me Away”.  But now you can get “Take Me Away” here on CD, albeit remixed.  Another bonus is exclusive to this CD — “Bones Lazy”, which segues out of “Defender of the Oleander” into the brilliant rocker “Low Desert Punk”.  And with the title “Bones Lazy”, you won’t be surprised that it is “Lazy Bones” backwards!  Like you’re watching Tenet.  Cool though.  Even though I knew what was likely coming, I felt like it fit right in.

Get a load of this, man.

Well I’m gettin’ up when the sun goes down,
And I shine ’em up and I hit the town.
Well I trim it clean and I roll it up,
And then I take it nice and slow…so what the fuck, man.

Jalamanta makes me feel that California sun way more than any Desert Sessions CD ever has.  You can taste it.  Let it sink into your lazy bones.   And as great as this new CD is sonically, it also makes me want to hear the original.  Nothing can truly upgrade a 20 years love affair with Jalamanta.  As a complimentary piece, I don’t regret owning or listening to it at all.  Hearing guitar parts that used to be beyond the fade is the kind of bait that we nerds line up for.  The 2009 vinyl, with the gorgeous embossed cover and all that delicious photography inside, will remain my preferred way to experience Jalamanta.  The 2019 remix will be the one to play when you want to examine it in more thorough detail.

(still) 5/5 stars


Original CD and vinyl releases seen below.

REVIEW: Def Leppard – “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” (1981 single)

Part 3 of a 4-part series on early Def Leppard singles!


DEF LEPPARD – “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” (1981 Phonogram/Vertigo single)

High ‘n’ Dry is my favourite Def Leppard album, and I can’t wait to review it (particularly the vinyl version).  “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” was probably the biggest single from the album…I mean, freakin’ Mariah Carey even covered it!  This is a cover version I have never heard and am not even curious to hear, but good on Def Lep for the success anyway.

The original 1981 version is the best known version of the song, although the 1984 remix (keyboards added) was the most pervasive in the late 80’s.  The 1984 remix was done to capitalize on the success of Pyromania, and it was re-released as a single, and as a bonus track on the High ‘n’ Dry album itself.  Also remixed and re-released was the B-side to “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” called “Me And My Wine”.  They even made new videos for both remixes!

For many years, I had never heard the original “Me And My Wine”, as only the 1984 remix was made available on the new High ‘n’ Dry.  I finally hunted down a copy of an original “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” single with picture sleeve, completing this phase of my Def Leppard collection!

“Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” of course is Def Leppard’s first ballad, and one they still play in concert, a rarity for these early years.  It’s always been a favourite of mine.  Back then, you had to have a power ballad, but it had to remain tough.  For example, “Still Loving You” by Scorpions was very soft, you could try to use it to woo a ladyfriend, but it had that awesome guitar solo.  As if to say, “I’m sensitive, but tough.”  This single is Def Leppard’s crack at the format.  I think it’s very successful, the song has proven to have longevity.  It has all the right elements:  a killer chorus, dark and plaintive verses, a dramatic lead solo break, and the word “heartbreak” in the title!

“Me And My Wine” was the main reason I have been hunting this single.  It’s one of Def Leppard’s fastest tunes, while they were still a metal band, and a bit of a cult favourite.  The 1984 remix version is great, and many Def Leppard fans agree that it’s also the best music video they ever made.  Hearing the original 1981 version for the first time, the differences are subtle.

The intro on the remix version is longer, with a count-in, the original mix does not have this.  The drums on the original are a lot more raw.  The remix sounds like the drum tracks are completely replaced by new electronic drums.  The original features more prominent bass guitar as well.  I have to say that after only a couple listens, I already believe the original version is superior to the remix.  It’s groovier with the amplified bass, and I think the remixed drums really take the edge off.  The original version just has more balls!

5/5 stars

Part 125: Syphon Remix (It’s T-Rev Appreciation Day…Again!)


(It’s T-Rev Appreciation Day…Again!)

Trevor’s in the habit of texting me whenever he sees something that I may want.  Which is more often than I can afford, as it happens, so I have to pick and choose!  I just received another box of goodies from T-Rev last week.  Inside I found the contents below:



Gotta love picture discs eh?  I’ll never play that Ozzy EP (all songs are also on his Prince of Darkness box set) but it sure looks cool.  (Look at Jake E. Lee!  Oh, Jake.)  Didn’t even know it existed.  That Grim Reaper one, I’d never seen the album cover before.  Never even knew what it looked like!  Sure love that title track though.  And I’m well on record for loving the Rage For Order LP by Queensryche!

Also in the box was a rare 12″ single by Kim Mitchell.  You know, the guy who teased your brains with Max Webster, and then your taste buds with “Go For Soda”.

Trev and I are both Kim and Max fans, but undoubtedly he’s the bigger fan than I am.  So it was with utmost gratitude that I accept this record:  “Go For Soda (Syphon Remix)” / “Love Ties”.  This was from his own personal collection.  As far as I know, neither of us have seen another copy.   I spoke to my buddy, that guy Craig Fee who works at that radio station Dave FM, and he’d never heard of it, let alone encountered it in his vast travels.

Anyway, Trev found this one, back in the record store days!  I don’t know when or where but maybe he’ll pop in with his remembrances!  But this is the kind of thing we lived for.  Finding something rare, cool, and previously unknown.

There’s no credit for who did the remix, essentially an extended version.  The song has a different intro and is beefed up from 3:26 to 4:59.  It’s a UK import, from Bronze records.  Mitchell’s stuff is released by Anthem over here in North America.  Bronze released Motorhead and Girlschool records in the 1970’s, I wonder if they commissioned this remix themselves.

So thanks Trev for another treasure.   This is the kind of thing that Trev was prone to finding.  I recall he had an etched Megadeth picture disc, and he also somehow scored me a double Bon Jovi 12″ single with 3 rare live tracks.

Must be the keen eye of a skilled Record Store Guy!  I salute you sir.

REVIEW: Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows (UNKLE Remix) CD single

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – “No One Knows” (UNKLE Remix) CD single (2002)


There are a few different singles for “No One Knows”. The one you are currently taking a look at is the UNKLE remix single. As far as remixes go, this isn’t bad at all. It’s actually a really interesting remix, completely reinventing the song and changing it into something else, while still retaining that haunting Homme melody. A job well done, for sure, a truly good remix.
However I can’t rate this single any higher than 2 stars simply because it contains four versions of the same song, and I usually like a lot more out of my singles. The disc contains the original version, and three versions of the UNKLE remix (extended, edit, intrumental).
This is mainly for remix fans. Even completists should put this low on their priority lists.
2/5 stars