5. Lifesavers Underground: Shaded Pain

LSu-shaded
Frontline, 1987

Whoa. Where do you start with this record, the classic Lifesavers Underground album that yielded a handful of Mike Knott’s iconic songs. We’re talking Die Baby Die, Plague of Flies and Shaded Pain. The record bleeds with punk-rock honesty, with haunting lyrics and vocals. It’s also raw and full of angst, a moody, brooding rock record that doesn’t disappoint.

And while the three aforementioned songs are absolutely outstanding, Tether To Tassel has always been a favorite of mine, and Lonely Boy is oh so good. And the record would not be complete without More to Life, which features a great guitar riff and Knott’s voice alternating between high-pitched wailing and the near-whispered chorus line of “there’s something more to life.” In a word, brilliant. The song sets the stage beautifully for the showstopper Shaded Pain, which is stripped down to piano and accompanies Knott’s anguished singing.

Yup, Shaded Pain is definitely a don’t-miss record from Knott’s catalogue and the best of the Lifesavers/Lifesavors/L.S.Underground bunch. It has a garage-band feel to it, the kind of rough-around-the-edges punk flavour that adds to the record’s appeal. And it has Knott painting beautiful soundscapes with gritty lyrics and superb song structures. This is also definitely a record that only gets better with age.

 

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51. L.S.Underground: The Grape Prophet

(Blonde Vinyl, 1992)
(Blonde Vinyl, 1992)

In a word, brilliant. The Grape Prophet is an allegorical rock opera by L.S. Underground, which was an offshoot of Michael Knott’s Lifesavors, Lifesavers and Lifesavers Underground. It’s brilliant storytelling through song, and a rocking good time at that. Even though it’s written in allegories, you can get the gist of what Knott is singing about, that being a particular church experience gone bad.

Translated into the song, the results are spectacular. Take The Fold for instance. The song is hard driving rock punctuated by Knott’s screamed lyrics in the chorus, before the song breaks away to the sweet refrains of “Come Into the Fold.” Ellis in the Orchard and the English Interpreter of English are two of the album’s best tracks, both of which are fuelled by snarling guitars. They are also among the more accessible songs. The Grape Prophet Speaks features outlandish prophetic words translated in plain English by Knott, all to the sound of a piano-filled soundtrack. On A Group of Prophets Predict the Pickers’ Future Without Them, the drums sound distorted and hypnotic, while the vocals are distant and somewhat chaotic.

The record also features a couple of instrumentals, Travels and Back to the Orchard, both of which add to the overall mood of the album. From start to finish, The Grape Prophet is a great record and is definitely most appreciated as a collection of 10 songs. It’s good stuff from Knott, whose productivity as a musician in the early ’90s is truly mind boggling.

TRACK LISTING:

1. Ellis in the Orchard (4:31)
2. Travels Instrumental (3:10)
3. The Fold (3:59)
4. Wino of the Red Is Stained (3:53)
5. The Grape Prophet Speaks (2:18)
6. English Interpreter of English (3:45)
7. Ellis Converses With the Prophets (3:13)
8. A Group of Prophets Predict the Pickers’ Future Without Them (3:36)
9. She Said (3:30)
10. Back to the Orchard Instrumental (4:39)

LISTEN HERE:

http://grooveshark.com/#!/artist/L+S+Underground/1290272