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Jeffrey Lee Pierce: Go Tell The Mountain: The Stories And Lyrics Of Jeffrey Lee Pierce

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As leader of The Gun Club, Jeffrey Lee Pierce preached the blues in a variety of guises: stripped-down punk-blues, lush, ethereal blues, slick guitar-wizardry blues. When he died in 1996, Pierce hadn't gained a whole lot of ground. The Gun Club never got the adoration it deserved from punk fans, nor did it gather much acclaim from admirers of the blues. Ideally, Go Tell The Mountain, Pierce's autobiography and lyric book, would help his cause. If you're already a fan, though, you shouldn't look here to set the record straight. Pierce was a good songwriter and musician, but his prose left a lot to be desired—although, from a music fan's perspective, Go Tell The Mountain is often fascinating. The book delivers the voyeuristic appeal of vicariously walking with the beast, and the company Pierce kept—Debbie Harry, Nick Cave, William S. Burroughs, Darby Crash, Will Shatter, and more—is a Who's Who of punk and post-punk fringe characters. That aspect is fascinating, but it's also tawdry and sensationalistic. The main problem is that Pierce talked and wrote a whole lot of shit. He seemed to fancy himself a contemporary of such gangsta rappers as Eazy-E and Snoop Dogg, slinging it deep about his sexual appetites, firearms, and preference for Asian women. Also like gangsta rappers, he tended to gloss over details which might have offered more depth or insight into the music. Pierce's explanation for his expatriate sentiments is summed up by broad ugly-American clichés, and his collaboration with Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie is reduced simply to, "Robin Guthrie was the only producer for me at the time." His fiction, likewise, suffers from his obsessions to the point at which it's almost too difficult to enter his world. Still, it's nice to have all his lyrics reprinted (or printed for the first time) for perusal, and to be able to begin making sense of "Lucky Jim" and "Sex Beat." The words seem kind of hollow without Pierce's whiskey-soaked voice to back them up, but they're essential for any fan. Maybe there's a market for a full-blown biography, but, sadly, that's not likely. Go Tell The Mountain is probably as close to such a thing as is likely to appear, and it does little beyond scratching the surface of Pierce's bravado and contempt for most people. It's best just to let his great music speak for him.