Dazzled by the bleep and chatter of modern life, it's rare you sense a connection with our ancient ancestors....

Dazzled by the bleep and chatter of modern life, it’s rare you sense a connection with our ancient ancestors. Sitting by the cave mouth, listening for the beast who will carry off your food, your children, your head – you just don’t get that kind of life experience buying Quorn in Sainsbury’s. These days, to feel mighty feral, you probably need The Jesus Lizard. Right up to their unhappy end last year, they remained a superb act of abandon, a total shedding of inhibitions and, in the case of singer David Yow, clothes. While their hand-reared, spoon-fed grunge contemporaries searched for their inner child, they’d roasted theirs over a spit. Wild.

As this collection of singles and rarities from their ten-year rampage shows, however, they were much more than the sum of their indecently exposed parts. Sure, ‘Killer McHann’ and ‘Mouth Breather’ are unhinged like a bungled trepanation, the live tracks thrum with a low terror that suggests Yow is dragging something human back to his lair, and they even back Santiago Durango on a cover of Trio‘s ‘Anna’ – but you constantly marvel how something so brutal can be so very smart. Duane Denison‘s guitar exactitude, the precision weighting of bass and drums, the black jazz lagoons beneath – this is the flashpoint between primitive and experimental, diminished responsibility and pre-meditated chill.

Such wilful regression highlights the Lizard thrill – they [I]wanted [/I]to go back to the psychic murk, the idiot gloom. The sinisterly suggestive cry of [I]”lipstick!”[/I] at the end of ‘Lady Shoes’, the sexual panic of ‘Seasick’, the volatile mania of unreleased track ‘Uncommonly Good’ – it’s all intensified by the knowledge they’ve deliberately untethered themselves. We know the singer restores antique furniture. We hear – “thank you very goddamn much!” – how he can’t forget his manners even as he forgets his name. And just for a short while, we wonder if we should let the wolf at the door come round for tea

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