|After listening a few times
to this quirky cannabis cacophony (in various states of
consciousness, strictly for scientific purposes), some interesting
questions emerged. For one, how come nobody has written joyful odes
to crystal meth or crack? And how the hell am I going to pay for
this Grand Slam Breakfast when I left my cash at home?
Singing about weed seems a little too, shall we say, Age of Aquarius
for the present day. Ever since Musical Youth's "Pass the
Dutchie" made it past TV censors, the ganja genre has lost much
of its cachet. Sure, kids can still get off on pot references in
teen flicks, but these days weed seems more of a mainstream
political issue, with headlines about legalization and medicinal
therapy cropping up regularly across the country.
New Jack Hippies guru Guy Schwartz originally conceived of the album
as a collection of cover songs, but local bands surprised him with a
batch of new tunes. So it makes sense that there's a sarcastic,
postmodern feel to the 21st-century ditties, even the ones that
musically emulate old-style Deadhead tunes.
While there are some seeds and stems in this sack, more than half of
the 14 cuts reflect some serious thought. The songs cover the gamut
of styles, from Texas shuffle and eight-bar roadhouse blues to funky
bong hits that might have been found on an old Sister 7 disc to Sly
Stone revisited and dancehall rap. And even the clunkers benefit
from Schwartz's workmanlike production effort.
Bitchin' tracks that take a serious approach include Sound Patrol's
bass-heavy "Cannabis Sativa" and Dubtex's chopped and
mixed "Good Weed" ("especially the kind that never
have one seed"). "Paper/I Smoke the Pain Killer,"
recorded at a late-night KPFT broadcast, is a poetry slam by the
Kool B-led Wandering Poets. To spare guitar/percussion
accompaniment, B orates thusly: "With these occupied jail
cells, with no room for the dealers, but they got room for me 'cause
I smoke the pain killer." Later, Schwartz references the
drugs-breed-terrorists TV ads on the Casey Jones-style romp
"Grow Your Own." The best way to cut out street-corner
dealers and international rogues, Schwartz suggests, is to invest in
hydroponics and indulge in a little Jeffersonian idealism, Jerry
Garcia-style. What could be more patriotic than that?