Thursday, February 07, 2008

FATSO JETSON - Power Of Three CD (SST/1997)

Funny I should be reviewing this, since: A) I'm a Johnny-come-waaay-lately in recognising the genius of Fatso Jetson, and B) I have and am currently in the process of releasing more albums featuring a member or two of the band. Fact is, I never bothered checking FJ out 'til very early last year when I first came into contact w/ Gary Arce (Ten East, Yawning Man, etc., plus one-time FJ member), and he would call me at odd hours and rave on about the unrecognised greatness of the band. Hmmm... I considered his point and figured any greatness the band apparently possessed was also unrecognised by myself and that such a situation must be rectified, pronto. You may ask yourself how on earth I could be so ignorant of a band who had released two albums on the SST label, though in my defense I will simply state that said albums also happened to be released in the years 1995 and '97. My obsession w/ the label runs the years 1978-'89, and essentially switches off at the dawn of the '90s, when the musical direction of the label - at least for me - became hopelessly unfocused and Ginn and co. cut the release schedule down to a bare minimum. When I think of the years '95-'97 and what I was listening to, I can only think of chin-stroking/bong-smoking Germans from the '70s and angry black dudes from the '60s w/ brass instruments. My head wasn't in the FJ solar system, let alone planet.
That brings us to Fatso Jetson, the trio fronted by the two Lalli brothers: Frank & Mario. By this stage, their pedigree included stints in influential desert-rock outfits, Across The River and Yawning Man (who go way back to 1986), and were therefore hailed as gods by stoner-rock fans of all stripes, which strikes me as kinda weird, since FJ sound nothing like a "stoner-rock" band to me. The Power Of Three sees Lalli in full D. Boon mode: his voice, his guitar twang, his look. There's little to no 'Sabbath riffery in effect here; to me, this sounds like what the Minutemen coulda (and shoulda!)been up to in '86 if Boon hadn't been driving down that fateful highway in late '85: total post-Project Mersh/3-Way Tie righteosity with forays into faux-Spaghetti Western twang and rollicking boogie-rock. One may balk at the awesome power of FJ for two reasons: the neverending fawning of pimply, numbnut QOTSA fans, and the fact that SST released 'em at a time when most hipsters probably weren't paying that much attention to their roster. Never judge a book by its cover. Anyone with a penchant for first-wave SST a la 'Flag/'Puppets/Minutemen needs this one, and I'm just goddamn shocked it took me a full decade to cotton onto how great this band was, is and perhaps will be in the future.

3 comments:

Mrow said...

This is one of my favorites too, and the MINUTEMEN comparison (esp. on tracks like "Builders & Collectors") is totally apt. To be fair, a pronounced SABBATH weight did enter in on their next disc, Flames for All - BUT the riffs remained so angular/odd that most stoner dudes hadda ditch their bongs while listening, for fear of getting too paranoid.

And oh! I got tix to see em play (now with Vince Meghrouni) later this month on my too-short holiday back in LA! God, I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Those Sort of Quartet SST records shouldn't be overlooked either...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chance...