The Janitors have been a regular feature on both the websites I have previously written for. Their ‘Drone Head’ album (now available here) was one of my first reviews, and I have continued to follow their progress through to their Fuzz Club Session (now available here), which reimagined some the tracks from across their oeuvre.
This release is a much fuller retrospective of their work through a mix of rarities, b-sides, alternative mixes, cover versions and previously unreleased tracks. The vinyl album from Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud Records contains nine of these tracks, but comes with a download containing an extra fourteen tracks. I’m very happy to be Premiering the stream of the vinyl tracks here, but will say something about some of the additional tracks as well… basically because there are some real gems here that for me tell much more of the story of The Janitors than their previous output suggested.
Handily the album comes with an insert which includes a description of each of the 23 tracks, and I’ve used this as an aide memoire to pick out the tunes that I want to mention… and there’s some here that I’m really excited to write about.
We’ve got to start with ‘Strong’, which was the first number that the band wrote and recorded, and gives more than a clue of their debt to the Jesus and Mary Chain in developing their sound; and later tracks also show a parallel development with Primal Scream… perhaps more of that later. Meanwhile first track on the vinyl ‘Stumble’ show a coalescing of ideas into something tighter and more focussed… focussed but definitely fuzzy!
‘I See It Now’ very much reminds me of being stuck in a shitty job in Birmingham in the late nineties. At the time I had a crap bedsit and was surviving on value brand bread and cheese spread. All I listened to at that time was Primal Scream and Spiritualized, and this is a real distillation of those bands… what I see now listening to this was the death-trap kitchen and electricity meter with the dodgy lock on it. Ace!
Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers are a criminally underrated band, and this cover of ‘Hospital’ fills me full of joy and sadness in equal measure… picking up on the quote that The Janitors do in the notes: ‘I go to bakeries all day long’… I’d take one over a bar any day, and we all need sweetness in our lives… but of course this track is much deeper than that with a complex longing and melancholy to it… the band add a drama to the mix here which is a great new way to listen to this amazing song.
Going off on a different tack is ‘MrSmSxG’. I went through a real EBM phase when I listened to very little else. It felt like the future and the massive pulsing beats of the likes of Nizter Ebb and Front 242 are given the full treatment here… another one that really takes me back to a moment in time… not sure I was expecting this when I started listen to this collection.
I’ll be honest, when ‘Evil Doings of An Evil Kind‘ came out I was a bit disappointed that it was only a 4-track EP because I just loved everything on there. It now appears that The Janitors were struggling to write music that they were happy with at the time. One of the tracks, ‘You In A Ditch’ would have made a fine addition to that release, fitted in well with the other tracks and I’m really pleased that it’s seen the light of day here.
Finally, there are a few really long tracks here too… ‘ArBmOxW’ is a huge stretched out version of ‘A-bow’ which is terrific just to zone out to… if Fontän ever do re-mix it I’ll be at the front of the queue to get it as that would be amazing. The extra droney version of ‘Dronehead’ is similarly well worth it just to sit with and let yourself be taken away with the whole thing, while ‘HrOmRxN’ is a remix of ‘Horn ur Marken’ which is weirdly addictive… don’t ask me why.
All in all this collection of music is the story of the band’s development over the last fifteen years. Actually its more about the people themselves and it was great to be able to synchronise my own musical biography with them at different times through this music. So for me its a great collection, and perhaps a more interesting and eclectic collection than I was expecting… but really we all like loads of different stuff, so why should I be so surprised.
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