One Eyed Jacks

Spear of Destiny

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One Eyed Jacks Review

by Dave Thompson

Spear of Destiny's second album is the set by which they, and all the bands clustered around them as the 1980s neared their cleavage, should be judged. On the face of things, it barely progresses from the sounds of its predecessor -- the same clattering tribal drums, the same honking sax soaring through the mix, and the same near-operatic swoop of vocals and yelps, driving compulsion and manic construction. But a year of constant gigging had honed the band to perfection, and a clutch of new songs kick off with the triumphant "Rainmaker" and just keep rising from there. The tempo never lets up. "Young Men" follows "Rainmaker" with military percussion and cathedral echo; "Everything You Ever Wanted" adds grand conspiracies and a loping reggae beat to the sonic brew. No matter that the stage was already lousy with so-called stirring stadium rock bands, from the Alarm and Big Country to U2 and the Waterboys, all big guitars and even bigger hair. Spear of Destiny pinned the art of the rock anthem down so hard that even the ballads (the yearning "Don't Turn Away") hold your heart to the heavens, and then toss it even higher, as "Liberator" rides in on Everest drums, Brobdingagian sax, and a refrain of such dynamic proportions that it isn't simply compulsive, it's an addiction. Two more mixes, a mad dub and a devastating 12" mix, follow amid the bonus tracks, and each one will take your breath away. That's side one. "Prisoner of Love" picks up where "Liberator" left off, without echoing a single syllable; "These Days Are Gone" ends the record with an almost heartbreaking cry of regret and, in between, "Playground of the Rich," "Forbidden Planet," and "Attica" may not rip your soul out like the rest of the record, but they still top anything that anyone else was throwing around at that time. Six bonus tracks keep up the heat, with a mix of live, remix, and B-side babies that have never seen CD before, plus a remarkable re-reading of the previous album's "Grapes of Wrath." But they simply ice the cake for collectors. For everybody else, One Eyed Jacks will already have stolen their soul.

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