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The Green Pajamas – The Complete Book of Hours (Green Monkey)

2 May 2010

Seattle psych rock treasures the GREEN PAJAMAS originally released The Book of Hours, its second album (and first not in cassette-only form), in 1986. While the record saw sporadic reissue on foreign labels throughout the 80s, it’s essentially been out of print for over 20 years. The recently reactivated Seattle indie label Green Monkey, who released the album in the first place all those years ago, gives the recordings new spit and polish, adding extra tracks to make up The Complete Book of Hours. The record has always stood somewhat apart in the band’s large catalog, as it’s the group’s lone attempt to keep up with what was then the times. Here the PJs combine their usual 60s psych fixation with 80s new wave (“Ten Thousand Words,” “Big Surprise,” “Ain’t So Bad,” “Higher Than I’ve Been”), adding a feel to the tracks that once sounded modern, then became dated, and now sounds fresh again.

The band’s take on old-fashioned psych has always been the same way, of course – it’s amazing how cuts like “Paula,” “Falling Through the Hole” (a tribute to Alice) and “Under the Observatory” proudly display their flower power roots without sounding retro. Book of Hours is also one of bandleader JEFF KELLY‘s most collaborative PJs LPs – guitarist/bassist STEVE LAWRENCE and keyboardist BRUCE HAEDT contribute almost equally to the songwriting and general direction. Indeed, Lawrence’s ROBYN HITCHCOCK-like “My Red Balloon” is an album highlight. Kelly’s melancholic pop jones gets a workout, of course, a la “The First Rains of September,” “Time of Year” and the stone classic “Walking in the Rain.” Ultimately The Complete Book of Hours is one of the Green Pajamas’ quirkiest albums, a mix of PJs traditionalism and attempts at (then) contemporary relevance.


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