Monday, 20 August 2007



Having experienced a lot of hardness and tragedy through his life Jim Carroll is a rare talent that is able to turn his poetry into the kind of aural art that is able to catch a modern audience’s attention.

Most famous for his book “The Basketball Diaries” (and the subsequent movie thereof) as writer he has lived a rock and roll lifestyle through drugs and self prostitution, activities that make for uncomfortable subject matter but equally as blissfully indulged in music medium.

Having previously made music with the Jim Carroll Band this is his fourth album (fifth if you include The World Without Gravity compilation) from 1998 which fluctuates between spoken word pieces and songs.

It is the actual spoken word pieces that hold most weight here being delivered is a more barbed manner coupled with a more distinct and appropriate musical backing that is almost trip hop. The unfortunate otherwise is that as a singer his exploits prove slightly too theatrical and the band rather stock in its playing. Something needs to be divulged in a different manner. That said the title track (with band) is a standout exception on the music front.

At many points it is a very claustrophobic album with a true sense of loss attached to overriding tone of the piece.

Caked in Catholic guilt his career has seemed to serve as something of a middle point between William Burroughs and Patti Smith. There is a real sense of defiance and often necessary self destruction attached to his sensibilities.

Tellingly the album ends with a track entitled “8 Fragments For Kurt Cobain” with an expression of understanding towards the pain that the Nirvana frontman felt. Within the piece Carroll describes how it feels to turn pain into art, putting himself in the place of Cobain and despatching a description of what it is like to be driven by Heroin. It’s an incredible personal piece that reads like a letter to one of the greatest talents (and losses) of our generation.

Ultimately this collection isn’t a pill to be taken on a sunny day.

Thesaurus moment: confess.

Jim Carroll

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