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Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Over the years, Anton Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre have gotten more promotional mileage out of their self-sabotage than they have ink spilled on their shambolic musical blend of the Stones, Velvets, and Summer of Love-derived transcendence. Megalomania, drug abuse, internal strife, aborted tours, and frustrated fans — it's a checklist for band destruction. And yet the Brian Jonestown Massacre endure. They got a boost outside of their sizable niche in 2003 with the release of a documentary that traced both their contentious relationship with the Dandy Warhols and Newcombe's mercurial antics/genius. Ondi Timoner's Dig! won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, and it proved a captivating depiction of the group's long strange trip. As the film showed, BJM albums can be a long time coming. So Tee Pee Records has capitalized on the exposure with Tepid Peppermint Wonderland, a two-disc, nearly 40 song set of rare, old, unreleased, and live material. Each track is accompanied by recollections from various band participants (there have been over 40 since the group's 1990 inception), and there's a wealth of photos from that same stretch. But by including album cuts from throughout their career, Tepid Peppermint also re-emphasizes just how great — after all the drama — the Brian Jonestown Massacre can really be. Disc one includes the softly swirling haze of 2004 single "If Love Is the Drug," the Bravery Repetition & Noise highlight "Sailor," and both "Anenome" and "All Around You (Intro)" from the amazing, grimy, and beautiful 1996 effort Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request. "Wisdom" could be an ancient Charlatans UK single, and "Stars" is a brittle, very heavily '60s acoustic number about tortured love — "I warned you I'd kill you/And I love you" — that Anton's notes say is the first song he ever wrote on guitar. Tepid Peppermint's second disc is equally strong, beginning with an unreleased track and moving through the band's first-ever single ("Evergreen"), live versions of "Let Me Stand Next to Your Flower" and "Hide and Seek," the nearly garage rock stomp of 1996's "Oh Lord," and "Not if You Were the Last Dandy on Earth," the Warhols-baiting single that plays a pivotal role in the documentary. The album closes with "Sue," eight minutes that put Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre's most central themes — drugs, drone, dirt, and melody — into epic relief.


Formed: 1990 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Named in tribute to the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist and his influence in introducing Eastern culture and music into the world of Western rock & roll, the Brian Jonestown Massacre formed in San Francisco, California in 1990. Some 40 different members passed through the group's ranks over the next half-decade, but the focal point always remained singer/guitarist Anton Newcombe, who, along with bassist Matt Hollywood, guitarist Dean Taylor, organist Mara Regal, accordionist Dawn Thomas, drummer...
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