Jet Black Berries: Sundown On Venus (1984)
This was one of those records I played to death back in my mid-80s college radio days. It had never been released on CD, and while I've got my old scratchy vinyl ripped to my hard drive, I was delighted to learn this weekend that it (finally!) received a digital release last year (as did the band's vinyl-only follow-up).
The Jet Black Berries (who lost the "the" after the first album, just like Facebook) were an upstate New York band who merged jangly cowpunk Americana with darker post-psychedelic grooves a la Dream Syndicate, with a touch of the retro garage band sound of bands like the Cramps.
Opening track "Bad Hombre" has been one of my favorite songs of the era ever since first listen, an amusing western movie pastiche with a memorable hook. The title track is similarly wicked fun, while "Ring of Steel" adds a haunting keyboard strain to the mix. The whole thing sounds like the soundtrack to a B movie about some lowlife bandits in an armed stand-off somewhere on the outskirts of New Mexico. The original album ends with a raggedy garage band cover of "Shakin' All Over," while the digital re-release adds a half-dozen more songs cut from the same cloth (with some Young Fresh Fellows-styled playfulness).
Not life-changing, but some fun stuff if you like a little twang in your garage, and it's great to see it getting some new life. The second album, while losing some of the novelty, is pretty similar; while a 2010 release by a reformed band is surprisingly solid, both brighter on a few pop-tinged tunes and darker in its quiet, goth-infused tracks (repurposing some older songs from a pre-JBB version of the band). I was able to pick up the whole discography for $12 over at Bandcamp.
Here's an audio rip of "Bad Hombre":