Adam Green - Gemstones


“I'm in trouble Richard,” I said. “I know,” said Richard laughing, “this is gonna be fucking brilliant.”



Where the hell do I start? That's the question that's been on my mind for a few weeks now. Over the past month or so I've been listening to Adam Green's new album regularly (to the point that I practically know it off by heart) and I absolutely love it, but for some reason or other I have found it incredibly difficult to write a review about it. Some reviews just flow out of me, but this one? Christ! This is about the seven hundred and fiftieth draft – and none of those previous attempts even got this far!


What the hell the problem was I couldn't figure out. It's not as if I've got writer's block; I've written a half a dozen articles whilst I've been stumbling over this bloody thing. I've been telling everybody I know how great the album is, picking out cracking little rhyming couplets that have made me laugh, enforcing people to listen to my walkman and acquaint themselves with Crackhouse Blues, and persuading friends and acquaintances that they should all rush out and buy it, but I simply could not to sit down and think of a device I could use to write this review. I just couldn't make sense of anything. Until last Sunday, that is.


So what happened on Sunday? I got pissed, that's what. I went to play football, as I do every week and, in what is becoming a regular occurrence, the game was cancelled due to the weather. That meant that the team and myself ended up in the pub at 11am and rat arsed by 2 in the afternoon. So, at about 4pm, I made my way home, bloated with lager and staggering like a new born deer. Once in the house I made a bacon and egg sarnie in the hope that I could soak up some of the lager and stop the room from spinning so much. I chomped that down and decided to listen to some music. Having avoided Adam Green for a few days (because I couldn't face trying to write this review any more) I decided that, seems as I was a bit tipsy, I could safely play the album and enjoy it for what it is and not bother about the review. So I pressed play, turned it up loud and lay down on the couch to slow the spinning room down a bit.


The title track started, I kicked off my shoes and got comfy. My toes started tapping almost immediately and I sang along as loudly and badly as I could. I started laughing as he sang "Let's break into the labyrinth of lies/Let's dive off the end of his eyes" and didn't stop until he'd gotten past the Barcelona and Dunkin'Donuts part (you'll have to hear it). I closed my eyes as Down On The Street started as the room was spinning faster than ever before and I was starting to worry a little. I reckon I was asleep before the song hit the second verse.


Next thing I know I'm in a dingy working men's club back home. My whole family and friends from every part of my life (school, college, uni, travelling fair, Holland) are there and we're all dolled up to the eyeballs. I scan the room and realize that I'm at a wedding. My cousin Lisa's wedding to be precise, judging by the dress she's wearing (or should I say busting out of)! I notice that I'm stood at the bar dressed in a kilt and I've got a pint of Diesel (snakebite and black) in my hand, which can't be a good thing, but seems as my fellow Incendiary editor Richard is beside me wearing a top hat and tails and knocking back a couple of Jagermeister's with my cousin Scott I figure it's safe enough to carry on drinking this lethal concoction, at least for a while. I glance round and notice that Richard's girlfriend is on the dance floor, along with my girlfriend and her sister. Suddenly I notice the band, dressed in gold sequined jackets and trousers, but with black Jewish hats on. The singer is none other than Adam Green.


Adam gives a nod and a wink to my Grandma, who's sitting across the dance floor and then the keyboard player starts playing He's the Brat, which is a nice, gentle song that my Grandma taps her feet and swings her head from side to side in rhythm to. Everyone seems rather happy and I just have to laugh. I mean, who the hell picked Adam Green as a wedding singer? "Great band Damian," says my Mam, "where did you find them?" Oh bugger, now I'm in trouble.


"You like them?" I ask, astonished. "Yeah, they play nice stuff," my Mam replies, before scuttling off to the buffet. Richard comes up to me, eyes wide and beaming from the Jagermeister. "I'm in trouble Richard," I said. "I know," said Richard laughing, "this is gonna be fucking brilliant."


"This is going out to you Grandma," says Adam Green, blowing a kiss in her direction as the band kick into Over the Sunrise. There's a few people dancing and tapping their feet, but I can tell that nobody's taking any notice of what Adam's actually saying until he sings, "Until I see the Magical Fungi," and my teenage cousin Liam comes running up to me and says, "Did he just mention mushrooms?" I nod a reply. "Cool," says Liam, impressed, "Who is he again?"


As he gets to the chorus (announced with a wonderfully screamed, 'MAMA!') my cousin Lisa and her new hubby are bounding around the floor like John Travolta and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, all arms waving and feet twisting. Adam Green takes off his jacket to reveal a bright red sequined waistcoat (nice) as he gets to my favourite part of the song, "I walked into a coffee shop/In time to buy a soda pop/Until the dog exploded on the kerb side" which sends me and my cousin Liam into hysterics and Richard hurtling up to join the party on the dance floor.


Crackhouse Blues is the next song in the set list and I stare, gobsmacked as Richard, my Dad and my Uncle Michael start doing that Status Quo back and forth movement with air guitars. This can't be happening? But it is, everyone's loving it. I can't resist any longer and run to join in. "You ok Dad?" I have to ask as he's got a bum knee. "Yeah, I can jive to this!", he says back, smiling with sweat beading on his brow. By the end of the song, he's even singing along, "Everybody do the hokey pokey to the Crackhouse Blues."


Before My Bedtime slows the pace down a bit and everyone takes the opportunity to run to the buffet and stock up on pork pies and chicken wings. I fill my plate with meat samosas and onion bhajis and by the time I sit down the band pick the tempo up again with Carolina. I can sense trouble brewing. "Carolina, she's from Texas/Red bricks drop from her vagina," Oh no, here we go, "Oh her lips taste/Just like sunk ships" I'm gonna get slapped in a minute I'm sure, "But her breasts taste/Just like breakfast." Is nobody listening to this? He's singing about Cock Socks filled with white tears now! I'm laughing, but I'm sure somebody's going to complain, at least my Mam? Nobody bats an eyelid. Instead, the dance floor is now filled with waltzing couples, one of which is my Auntie Hilda and Uncle Ted! Now then, Uncle Ted's been dead for about fifteen years, but there he is, smiling like a contestant on Come Dancing and drifting round the floor with Hilda like a natural. A light hits the big mirrorball suspended from the ceiling and the room is filled with little beams of light. "And it's Goodnight Sweetheart/Flying high on Birth Control."


Next song in the set is Emily and suddenly I realize that Adam's backing band is none other than Camper Van Beethoven. The song has almost everyone on the dancefloor, except for Grandma of course, she's still got some cucumber sandwiches to demolish. But here we are, all the blokes with shirts hanging out, drunk as Lords and the women dancing round handbags like it's a Friday night. We're all doing the twist like it's just come back in fashion but my Dad has to stop as it's too much for his bum knee. My Mam tells him to go sit down but he shrugs her off and, what does he do? My Dad starts a conga going, that's what (which is embarrassing, even in a dream). As I watch my Dad limping round the room with a chain of family and friends behind him, my cousin Lisa comes up to me, gives me a hug and says how much she loves the band. I look over to the stage and notice that my friend Claire (from uni) is giving Adam Green her phone number. It's then that I start to laugh again......and wake up.


It was such a shame, I was having a great time at the party, as I'm sure you can imagine. Still, it may have been a bizarre dream but it did one thing. It allowed me to make sense of this bloody album.


Gemstones is an album that makes me laugh out loud. It makes me smile from ear to ear, it makes me tap my feet and, above all, it's very, very entertaining. There's always something interesting going on, whether it's a bizarre lyric, or the theatrics in his voice or one of the wonderful time and mood changes the songs contain. There's always something to keep you interested. Emily does sound like Camper Van Beethoven. Crackhouse Blues does sound like the song Status Quo have tried and failed to write for thirty years but it all sounds like Adam Green. The low-fi geek from The Moldy Peaches is still here, but only in the writing. The music is mature and wonderfully played and layered. In the end what Adam Green has done has create an album that, quite literally, has something for everybody in it. It contains the kind of cheap sexual connotations that teenagers (and people like me) will find amusing but music that your parents will want to jive to and you'll still like yourself. He's got a voice that could charm the pants off your sister, and probably your mother as well if you aren't careful about who you introduce him to. It's a mad album. Completely and utterly bonkers. You'll love it. What it proves more than anything though is that, if you're looking for a wedding singer, Adam Green is your man. Call Rough Trade for bookings.


Words : Damian Leslie