[7 February 2007]
The Green Pajamas might be classified as Britpop if it wasn’t for the fact that they come from Seattle, Washington. The band formed in the ‘80s amid Los Angeles’ Paisley Underground scene (a sort of lame psychedelic resurgence that spawned The Bangles). They parted ways in 1990 and after a seven-year hiatus reconvened to release a series of records from which this 20-song collection is extracted. This is not, however, a “best of” collection from these years; The Night Races into Anna is an assembly of rarities and unreleased tracks from this obscure act. The 75-minute assortment is a treat for those faithful fans of the group (assuming there are one or two still out there).
Not only is this pack of paisley pop so utterly conventional, but the members are simply relics of a scene that, even in its heyday, was not so formidable a genre. So it’s hard to believe that these archaic artists can produce anything worthwhile. The effort starts out innocently enough with “Looking for Heaven”, a song penned almost 35 years ago. Unfortunately, bland psych-pop does not age as well as fine wine. “Looking For Heaven”, like so many other tracks on this album, is lethargic naptime music which is slightly reminiscent of ’60s rock.
The one moderately catchy tune on the album is the hackneyed love song “The Memory of You”. The song, complete with scenes of departing trains and goodbye tears, could have been a Gin Blossoms hit, or some other moribund alt-rock band from the ‘90s. The sad part is: this is about as good as it gets. The next track, “Beautiful Deadly” begins with a staccato verse that band leader Jeff Kelly chants in an annoying faux-British accent. It’s all way downhill from here as we are treated with one humdrum track after another.
The eerily childlike “The Haunted Dollhouse” was meant to be on a concept album for a children’s picture book published in 1983. Thankfully, for the kids’ sake, the album was scrapped and the song has been relegated to this epic compilation. The chorus features a choir of children innocently, yet ominously, singing “come into the house”. The delivery is dark and zombie-like. Instead of being cutesy, the choir and the song come off as scary and ultimately unlistenable. The birthday song “Forever 13” chronicles a young girl celebrating her special day. After opening her gifts, the girl retreats to her room for her “secret wish”—I wonder what it was. The song, unlike The Beatles’ “Birthday”, is the most drowsy, depressing birthday song ever recorded.
The promo material suggests that this 20-song double-LP provides a nice collection for fans of the Green PJs. For the rest of the world I would be probably suggest you start with their “Best of” collections, as this current crop of rarities is tepid and uninspiring. To add insult to injury, these paisley popsters have announced the possibility of a Volume 2! Please, spare us the unnecessary extravagance gentleman. You’d probably be better off penning some new stuff—or throwing in the towel.