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Monster Magnet | 25 Tab | review | rock | Lollipop
25 Tab (SPV)
by Brian Varney
Before I begin to discuss the wonderful music contained herein, I must first question the reason for this reissue's existence. 25 Tab, as far as I know, was not out of print when this version was released. Beyond some slightly retouched artwork, a few tossed-off sentences in the guise of liner notes, and a live "bonus" track that sounds like it was recorded on a tape player inside someone's pocket, this is in no way different than the Caroline version. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be remastered, but if there's a sonic difference between this and the original pressing, I can't hear it.
Having said that, I highly recommend this album. If you already own the Caroline pressing, there's absolutely no reason to buy this. If you don't own the album, this version will do just fine. 25 Tab, for those who don't know, is the second Monster Magnet album, easily the band's most ambitious and difficult work, and a successful attempt to make the most psychedelic album of all time.
The opening track, "Tab," lasts 32 minutes and consists of a very simple, languorous guitar figure accompanied by the sounds of seemingly every piece of vintage psychedelic gear the band could lay hands to set on self-destruct. Echoplexes, effects pedals, flangers, phasers, echo chambers, wah pedals, fuzz pedals, and a bunch of stuff I've never heard of, all of them work in tandem to provide sounds that will seriously warp your world vision like nothing else. There aren't much in the way of intelligible vocals on this track: Even when vocalist Dave Wyndorf begins to actually speak actual words around the 12-minute mark, his voice is buried so far beneath the funhouse of effects that you won't be able to understand him.
Track two on the CD, which actually contains the next two songs in the running order, kicks off with "25," whose aggressive, Hawkwind-by-way-of-the-Stooges guitar riff will pick you up from the rug and make you want to flail elbows-out like a good punk rock asshole. After a mere four minutes of full-speed chaos, the pedal eases from the floorboards as the tempo slackens and band stumbles woozily into "Longhair," whose fuzzy jangle comprises my favorite four and a half minutes of 25 Tab. And just when you thought things couldn't get any stranger, the band decides to leave you grasping at a question mark by ending the record with an unabashed pop song, the beautiful "Lord 13." I mean, it's a pop song in the same tradition as "Pushin' Too Hard" or "Shape of Things to Come" rather than something you're likely to hear on oldies radio, but it's a real song nonetheless, and definitely a far cry from "Tab." It's a beautifully ambiguous ending to what is ultimately a confounding record, one that both rewards and demands repeated listenings.