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The Thornfield Sessions

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Album Review

Unfortunately, the musical legacy of Gene Loves Jezebel is a confusing, sometimes ugly one. When they initially burst upon the scene, twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston were embraced by the goth community and created a pair of wonderfully dark albums, 1983's Promise and Immigrant from 1984. By the time of their third album, Discover, from 1986, they lightened up their sound and became more commercially successful, losing much of their goth audience along the way. Within two years, the brothers had a falling out and Michael left the band, relocating to Los Angeles. Jay kept the band and the name and has continued making fine but sadly underappreciated GLJ albums ever since. Michael, meanwhile, started using the band name as well, releasing a few inferior albums and touring under the GLJ band name. Since the middle of the '90s, it's been difficult to figure out which version of the band is on each new release. This release, thankfully, features Jay's version of the band, which includes guitar legend James Stevenson and longtime bassist Pete Rizzo. On The Thornfield Sessions (recorded around the same time that VII was recorded), Jay and the boys kick off their shoes, grab the acoustic guitars, and run through some of their hits and obscure album tracks. While not entirely unplugged (electric bass, drums, and some keyboards are present), this is an interesting glimpse into a secret musical world that no one would have dreamed of back in the band's early days. Although the songs don't come close to the officially released versions, it's still nice to hear different takes on old favorites like "Jealous," "The Motion of Love," "Gorgeous," and others. They even break out an old Associates chestnut, "White Car in Germany," for a test drive. Thankfully, there's a warm feeling throughout, allowing for a better appreciation of some of the earlier material. Not a substitute for a good compilation (there are two of those to choose from), but a nice way to introduce yourself to the band for the first time. ~ Steve "Spaz" Schnee, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1981 in Porthcawl, Wales

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston began playing music in 1980 when they formed Slav Arian with guitarist Ian Hudson and a drum machine. Though the Astons grew up in Porthcawl, South Wales, they moved to London in 1981 and renamed the goth-influenced group Gene Loves Jezebel. The trio played several live shows and were quickly signed by Situation 2. In May 1982, the label released Gene Loves Jezebel's demo single, "Shavin' My Neck." The band then added bassist Julianne Regan and drummer Dick Hawkins....
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The Thornfield Sessions, Gene Loves Jezebel
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