Album: Ejector Seat Reservation
. . .
I spent over a decade thinking that Swervedriver’s first two albums — 1991’s Raise and 1993’s Mezcal Head, for those of you keeping score at home — were the only things they’d ever released. This is because of a historic spate of record company shittiness: in 1995, they delivered their third album, Ejector Seat Reservation, to their U.S. label, A&M, and their U.K. label, Creation, and got epically screwed by both labels.
First, A&M told them that they’d have to wait a full year to release it, because they had a lot of releases that year, and get in line, rando U.K. band. Here are some of the artists they did release that year: Del Amitri, Dishwalla, Extreme, Dodgy, Monster Magnet, Therapy?, and The Cruel Sea. So Swervedriver decided to sever ties with A&M, which led to Creation dropping them a week after releasing Ejector Seat Reservation in the U.K. So as you can imagine, it didn’t sell shit.
Nor did the follow-up, 1998’s 99th Dream, which was originally set to be released on DGC in 1997, but got shelved after their A&R person got canned. It eventually came out on small indies in 1998, but even though I was at my record shopping peak at that time, I never came across either record.
So I only found out about any of this when they released a compilation called Juggernaut Rides ’89-’98 in 2005, at which time I not only realized that I’d totally underrated both Raise and Mezcal Head, I discovered a whole bunch of songs from the final two albums as well, the best of which was the gloriously psychedelic “The Birds,” which closed Ejector Seat Reservation.
In a moment of weakness I embodied the sickness
And when everyone winds me up I just can’t wind down
And the April rain soaks my jokes to a pulp
The sun makes my eyes burn
And it must be my turn
To fly with the birds this time
As on much of Ejector Seat Reservation, the both the gauzy and noisy guitars are downplayed, and the psychedelic licks and riffs that were always part of their music are brought to the forefront. And, after all, if you’re gonna feature the jangly guitars, where better than on a song called “The Birds”? And while Jez Hindmarsh’s drumming is mixed maybe a little too far down, as always, the interplay between Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge is stellar, as the guitars wash over you like a sigh-inducing summer breeze.
In the end, Franklin chants “in a moment of weakness I embodied the sickness” and it’s almost too lovely to stand. Almost.
And naturally, after being fucked over by two different record companies, Swervedriver broke up, and Franklin released experimental records as Toshack Highway, which I missed, and under his own name, which was more what you expected. And, of course, they eventually reunited in 2008 for festivals and short tours, and even released a couple of albums, about which more tomorrow.
“The Birds” Live on KEXP, 2012
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