Joup Friday Album #5 – The Jesus Lizard – Down

The Jesus Lizard - Down (Touch and Go) 1994

The Jesus Lizard – Down (Touch and Go) 1994

“My Legs,” said David Yow, lead singer of The Jesus Lizard, to a burst of unique laughter since gone from Chicago’s Wrigleyville Tap. Later that evening Yow, mummified in a skin of black electrical tape, took the stage next door at The Metro only to have his entire “skin” ripped off upon his first dive into the crowd. Yep, that’s Yow and this is your Joup Friday Album – Down, my favorite long player from The Jesus Lizard.

In those days my friends and I liked our shows. And the Metro was a great place for them, circa the late 90s. The cast in these adventures read like a Elmore Leonard novel: Mr. Brown, Sonny D, TwoFoot, Bakes and myself, a group branded The Fish Guys after our band The Schlitz Family Robinson turned a southside bar and fish joint (?) into a bourbon-fueled debacle of a “venue”. We loved Yow for his inebriated antics, and we sought to spread the word. On any given night in Wrigleyville you might find us at a show: JSBX, The White Stripes, Frank Black, Cash Money, The Delta 72, or – of course -Touch and Go’s gem The Jesus Lizard. Usually before these outing we sauntered into our drinking hole, the aforementioned Wrigleyville Tap. The place had cheap beer (cheaper then the Metro and Smart Bar anyway) and a low key atmosphere in the baseball off-season. On the evening in question we were getting our pre-game on before a Jesus Lizard show when who did we run into but none-other-than Mr. David Yow. Mr. Brown immediately bought him a beer, as one would not only do but SHOULD do. Delighted Yow lingered among us for a few moments, clearly already a little buzzed. We gathered around him as Sonny and Mr. Brown handed him the offerings – a beer and a shot of bourbon, and someone made small talk by asking, “Hey Dave, what are you guys going to open with tonight?”

“My legs,” was Yow’s pickled response, and he downed the shot and walked away with a thank you and a small stumble in his step, the cartoon mouse just pulled from the vat of wine.

We were all huge Lizard fans. Me, maybe not as much as the others, but God Damn Down really does it for me. Stuck somewhere in the Grunge of the early 90s and wasteland of the later part of the decade is the band originally hailing from Austin, TX who made Chicago their home in 1988. Upon research on (Wiki), The Lizard charted a single they released with Nirvana in the UK at #12 in 1993. Impressive. I never thought of them as a charting band, not for lack of talent nor content just for the fact they were not necessarily “mainstream.” And that’s not to say they didn’t sell out shows…they did and they effin rocked.

Why Down? For a heavy/rock/aggressive album, it’s smart. Duane Denison kills on guitar with just the right amount of rock and jazz dissident leanings. Couple him with the stand-out rhythm of David Sims on Bass and Mac McNeilly on drums and you have a kick in the teeth…and then the chest and then the head again. Yow’s vocals are akin to Johnny Lydon yet so distinctively Yow. It is raucous yet melodic, aggressive yet timely. You want to exorcise some pent up shit…pop in Down. That’ll do the trick.

From the opening set-up of “Fly on the Wall” to the cleverly crafted “The Associate,” the album starts of with a bang. Throw in down-tempo organ driven “Horse” to even things off then right back at it McNeilly’s smashing beat in “Din.” But really it’s about the play between Yow and Denison. Two writers and performers at the top of their game in the mid-90s.

The Jesus Lizard regrouped last year for what I hope will be another album and tour. Yeah that’s gonna kick some ass.

As long as they open with their legs.

Bakes, what have you got for next week?

Joe Grez

Joe Grez

Joe Grzesik (JGrez) is still an artist developer trying to keep up with new technologies. Photography still has been one of his strongest passions. However, now his main focus has led him back to music where he teaches guitar, piano, saxophone and percussion privately. Music education can never be short changed.

2 Responses to Joup Friday Album #5 – The Jesus Lizard – Down
  1. […] frequented multiple times with me to see a number of acts like Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, ...
  2. Thomas H Williams

    Thomas H Williams Reply

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

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