“This is NOT a tribute album” states RC scribe Kris Needs in his grippingly anecdotal sleevenotes to The Journey Is Long. Needs, a close friend of the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce, recalls the schismatic Gun Club frontman with an affection and respect palpably shared by his Journey co-conspirators: an impressive roster of bohemians including Nick Cave, Lydia Lunch, Mark Lanegan and Barry Adamson.
Three years in the making, The Journey Is Long follows on from 2009’s We Are Only Riders, a similarly radical undertaking in which the artists involved mostly tackle (and in some cases complete) Pierce’s unreleased or unfinished “song sperms”, rather than merely rescaling the pre-existing pinnacles of his fitful but eventful career. Highlights are many and varied. I’m Going Upstairs by founding Bad Seed Hugo Race is a compelling curdle of acoustic neo-blues, sung in a voice like a rusted-shut hinge; Ain’t My Problem Baby by The Jim Jones Revue sweats pure nitroglycerine, plugged into the righteous source; and Rose’s Blues by Bertrand Cantat, Pascal Humbert, Warren Ellis and Cypress Grove is real edge-of-reason stuff: a stumblebum bar band quietly pissing their trousers while a wolverine that’s been licking turps launches a stage invasion. Pierce himself appears, posthumously, on four tracks.