London Records / The Music Cartel, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I have just discovered the best weapon against drug use. First, sit your kids down - no, make that tie them down. Then, pull out Jerusalem, the final release from stoner rockers Sleep, and put it on full volume. Let it play for all 52 minutes, eight seconds, while you scoot yourself out the door and go to Starbucks for a triple mocha latte. When you get back, tell your kids that what they just heard is the result of using drugs.

I guarantee, if radio started playing this song as a favor to the anti-drug campaigns, the Betty Ford Center would be turning people away by the carload.

Jerusalem is a one-song album, obviously written under the influence of drugs (why else would they put a bong - good grief, is that made with an my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 avocado?!? - on the back cover?), and apparently can only be enjoyed under the influence of drugs. Listening to this makes me real happy that I gave up drinking four months ago. I used to berate bands like Hawkwind for putting out crap like this, but this album makes Space Ritual Live, the previous album in the Pierce Memorial Archives I called the worst in the collection, look like "Stairway To Heaven".

The band - drummer Chris Hakius, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike, and "visual flight" (guess that means he supplied the weed) Dooug Ebright - make no apologies for their love of, aah, a good smoke: "Drop out of life with bong in hand / Follow the smoke toward the riff filled land." Christ, even Bob Marley - who practiced a religion that treated marajuana as a sacrament - never went off the deep end and wrote an hour-long, one-chord ode to his love for ganja.

How bad is their devotion to hemp? Put it this way: they make Cheech & Chong look like Sunday school teachers. 'Nuff said.

It takes almost three minutes for the full band to join in on the first movement of "Jerusalem" - a song that almost continually drones on in a D chord. If you're looking for variety, believe me, you've chosen the wrong album. It's not until about the halfway point that Cisneros starts to really play his bass... and, omigod! - a chord change !!! (Guess the fire in the bong must have gone out around this point.)

By the time that Pike and Cisneros start doing anything interesting with their instruments, the damage has been done - kind of like swatting a fly with a Cadillac. Unless you're hopped up on a pretty good trip yourself, you will have screamed in terror, smashed the disc, and run out of your house in a frenzy after only ten minutes. (See? I knew I should be getting combat pay - hell, I should be getting any type of pay - for doing this job!)

Jerusalem is an album that sat on the shelves of London Records for over a year. They obviously knew what they were doing - and I want the head of the poor soul that let this one out of the vaults. It sucks. Avoid it. Remember the words of Nancy Reagan: "Just say no." One wishes that the members of Sleep had taken that to heart.

Rating: F

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


this is a classic example of criticism of what one does not understand. in the liner notes of the definitive version of this album, Dopesmoker, you are advised to get high turn it up really loud and listen to it with an open mind. if the bass droning in the beginning doesn't begin to make you feel a certain something in your gut then it's not loud enough and you can't possibly appreciate the brutal dynamic of the part where the drums crescendo and the guitar kicks in. this is not spoon fed cookie cutter rock and roll, this is mysticism. you don't have to like it, but you have to respect it.
Ah, so THAT'S what I did wrong... I never did drugs a day in my life! What the fuck was ***I*** thinking?!?

Sorry, but I stand by my comments. If this review proves that I'm a stuffed-shirt, boring-ass dude who obviously wasn't fired up on Sao Paolo north-slope trip weed when I listened to this review, so I can't understand the complexities of the music only revealed under the ganja high... well, find me guilty as charged, buddy. (Might have made listening to Bob Dylan's Christmas record easier... naaaaah!)

© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of London Records / The Music Cartel, and is used for informational purposes only.