Created against the backdrop of the American wasteland, Mighty Joe Moon introduces vast rock textures with traces of southern alternatwang. Layered with guitar, banjo, Dobro, cello, mandolin, accordion, harmonica, pump org... more »an, tablas, and "acquired hunks of metal," the band reconfigures sound with rustic debauchery. The strident vocal work of singer-songwriter Grant Lee Phillips generates folk mythology and political commentary with a nod to disparate class distinctions. Recounting individualized stories, outland tracks such as "Demon Called Deception" portray personal struggles against manifest destiny, while tender ballads such as "Mockingbirds" and "Honey Don't Think" maintain the balance. Given its earnest overtones, the nature of the album is uplifting at its core as it lingers with emotional affinities that touch upon the notion of simple livelihood. --Lucas Hilbert« less
Created against the backdrop of the American wasteland, Mighty Joe Moon introduces vast rock textures with traces of southern alternatwang. Layered with guitar, banjo, Dobro, cello, mandolin, accordion, harmonica, pump organ, tablas, and "acquired hunks of metal," the band reconfigures sound with rustic debauchery. The strident vocal work of singer-songwriter Grant Lee Phillips generates folk mythology and political commentary with a nod to disparate class distinctions. Recounting individualized stories, outland tracks such as "Demon Called Deception" portray personal struggles against manifest destiny, while tender ballads such as "Mockingbirds" and "Honey Don't Think" maintain the balance. Given its earnest overtones, the nature of the album is uplifting at its core as it lingers with emotional affinities that touch upon the notion of simple livelihood. --Lucas Hilbert
"There's a side of American music that seems to have drowned in the recent years of fashion and image. You hear it's folky edge in some of REM's music, or old Neil Young...Simon and Garfunkle...the genesis of Pearl Jam... It's something you hear and it rings unmistakeably American in your ears. Mighty Joe Moon is on that list. This is a terrific album of many roads...from the tumultuous rock monster "Lone Star Song" to the regret-filled acoustic ballad "Happiness". It's raw, dusty songs cannot help but charm you with their simplicity...and you may find yourself asking: "Where has music like this gone?" Grant Lee Phillips is a magnificent songwriter, and in no other place in his career are his talents more apparent. The man can sing...he sings with heart and passion, and his words and his music intertwine seamlessly. I came upon this album late in the band's career, and sadly they are no longer together. But they left behind one of the finest and most under-appreciated recordings this country has produced in what seems a very long time."
One of the Best CD's ever...period
H3@+h | 03/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Grant Lee Buffalo, being among the greatest bands that never became well known across the board, recorded what in my opinion will stand the test of time as one of the greatest recordings ever. I first heard the album soon after its release in 1994. My tender young ears (19 at the time), were not ready for it. After returning from Italy in 1997, I dug it out of my collection (starved to hear any music I hadn't brought over there with me a year prior), and was immediately moved. Perhaps it was my experiences while I had been gone. I fell in love, had my heart broken, and generally woke up to the limitless possibilities of life and who and what I could be. Or perhaps it was me trying to reconnect with what it meant to be an American and all the good and bad that comes with it. To call this record spiritual would be the most appropriate work I can think of. Lone Star Song, begins with a droning description of the last stand of David Koresh in Texas, and passionately highlights the violence that is so much a part of America' past and current identity. This feeling is again touched upon in Sing Along (the fourth track), which tells the story of the creation of the U.S. all the blood that was spilled for it, and the colorful and sometimes disturbing cast of characters who have made up American history. Mockingbirds is a beautiful song about Grant's first experience with an earthquake in Los Angeles (as best I've been able to find out), and what the experience made him realize. It's The Life, follows as a warning/regret of the way a life should be lived. I find it a particulary relevant and poignent song at this time of great financial prosperity and wealth in the U.S., and the general decline of basic civility in every day life. Mighty Joe Moon is next, capturing in several minutes the free spirit of all those who seek the truth out of life. Demon Called Deception is supposedly about Johnny Cash, and captures the feeling of Mr. Cash excellently. Lady Godiva is a love song, plain and simple, with the famous lady the centerpiece. Drag is a phenomenal song about love and what it does to you. Last Days of Tecumseh is about the famous Indian Chief. In just over a minute, GLB manages to capture the sadness and despair that must have hung so heavy in his soul during his peoples final days. It is very much a song about the inexorable march of time, and a more touching minute of music I have never heard. Happiness, the next track, could be the most despondent song ever written. Words can't adequately describe the emotions that GLB manages to capture here. A lyrical sample "Never mind the cursed war, proud like a badge that just don't shine no more..." Honey Don't Think is, simply put, the most amazing love song I've ever heard. A simple request from one person to another to take their hand and explore the future togather. The necessity of a soulmate in making our way through this often inexplicable life. And the necessity of living in the hear and now. Side by Side jams along at a fair pace and repeats much of the same themes that have been touched on up until this point and leads up to the masterpiece and closing track, Rock of Ages. Rock of Ages can best be described as a true spiritual song, in the religious sense. A song that seeks answers from God in a world that makes no sense. A song about the injustice that mankind perpetrates on itself and the mistakes we all make in trying to find ourselves and our way in life and in this world. In the end what do we have to turn to? In my opinion, it's a pretty overtly religious song, and I'm not a tremendously religious person, but for some reason this song strikes a strong and visceral cord somewhere in my soul. A quiet cry for guidence and help in understanding things that are beyond our comprehension. Basically it asks the eternal question of why are we here and why are all the horrible things that happen, allowed to happen. Possibly the best closing song to one of the best pieces of music ever created. This CD is very much a total piece of art. While it doesn't HAVE to be listened to straight through, the effect in doing so, is one of the rare musical experiences that leads one to reflection on who they are as a person. Something so powerful that you can taste it in the end. The taste is much like life. Sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter, but one that is always real. And for that alone, I will be eternally grateful. Buy this record. It will change your life."
This album is "Mighty" good.
H3@+h | VT | 02/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I must admit, the only song I ever knew from this band was "Mockingbirds", and that of course is why I just recently picked this up. It's well worth it just for that track. But the beautiful thing is, once I listened to the whole album, I realized that every track here is excellent. I mean, I was really impressed with this disc, and am suprised "Grant Lee Buffalo" isn't more well known. High quality songwriting and delivery. If I had to classify the sound, I'd say alt-country-rock. Some songs rock, while others are more ballad-ish. Fans of "The Jayhawks" and "Ryan Adams" should dig this, or anyone with good taste for that matter. "Lone Star Song" is a good start, and "It's The Life" is good too. But it's the last 4 tracks that make this great. "Happiness" and "Honey Don't Think" are moving, and "Rock Of Ages" is a perfect ending. This is one of few albums I play twice in a row. If you want a broader picture of the band, a 2-disc "best of" comes out on 3/2/04. But I suspect this is their best album."
Grant Phillips deserves to be your rock and roll hero!
Jim Allison | rochester, ny United States | 04/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't explain how much I love this CD! It's like the most passionate man in America just took a withering cross country tour and has a scrapbook of photos and stories he wants to share with you over a couple cold ones.
Listening to this CD starts the equivelent of a mental slideshow of images of a mythic America. The America of the mind.
Grant Phillips' voice is an American wonder in itself. Booming, strong and self assured one minute; plaintive and desparate in falsetto perfection the next (Attention, Jeff Buckley fans, just click on "add to cart" now and thank me later!). Then there's the music itself; sort of like Mazzy Starr on espresso. It soars with an organic warmth found nowhere on radio at all anymore. And never could be found sounding quite like this before.
If only grownups were as excited about music as twelve year old girls are, this masterwork would be legendary and the terrific band that created it would be the alt-radio gods they deserve to be."
A Magnificent Tapestry of Rock Folklore
DarkCloak | West Wildwood, NJ | 05/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was first exposed to Grant Lee Buffalo at the tailend of 1994. I was working as an overnight deliveryman when I first heard the opening strains of "Mockingbirds" stir through the twilight: "Devastation at last, finally we meet". I was immediately entranced by the dirgelike strum of this tune and was compelled to seek out the whole album. I was not disappointed. Mighty Joe Moon serves as an excellent example of exquisite narrative rife with elegiac stirrings and haunting tales from the perspective of a true raconteur.
When lead singer Grant Lee Phillips sings of the many facets of Americana and the accompanying human condtion, one is transported to the worlds he creates in his song tapestry. Overall, Mighty Joe Moon is a breath of fresh air and uniquely qualifying in the pantheon of alt-rock that and highly worthy of exploring. All of the tracks are sterling and weave a synthesis of storytelling and nuance that captivate.
My faves are the outstanding "Mockingbirds", "Lone Star Song", "Honey Don't Think", "Demon Called Deception", and "Rock of Ages"...but all of the songs on here exemplary. Seek this out."