The Gun Club

Mother Juno

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The Gun Club collapsed within a year of the release of 1984's The Las Vegas Story, so more than a few fans were surprised in 1987 when Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Kid Congo Powers returned with a new version of the band, featuring Romi Mori (Pierce's significant other) on bass and Nick Sanderson (ex-Clock DVA) on drums. Even more startling was that the group's comeback album, Mother Juno, was produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, who would hardly have seemed a likely choice to channel the Gun Club's fiery blues-punk assault onto vinyl. But against the odds, Mother Juno turned out to be one of the band's best albums; the hard rock overtones of The Las Vegas Story were replaced by a more direct, streamlined sound that suggested Miami without the twangy undertow, and while "Bill Bailey" and "Thunderhead" proved this band could rock as hard as they ever had before, Pierce's songs were also venturing into new musical territory, as evidenced by the slow, slinky R&B of "Yellow Eyes," the atmospheric carnival-pop of "The Breaking Hands," and the contemplative "Port of Souls." And as a vocalist, Pierce's trademark just-off-pitch style had gained no small amount of nuance in the six years since Fire of Love, and whether he's shouting the blues or crooning sadly, Pierce shows he'd moved into a whole new class as a singer. Sadly, Mother Juno didn't earn a United States release until the 1990s, which is a shame; it not only made clear that the Gun Club were still alive and kicking, it showed they had lost none of their old power as they cleared out some new territory in the process. Buddha's 2000 reissue adds two solid bonus tracks, the scrappy "Crab Dance" and the moody "Nobody's City."

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