Kyuss – …And The Circus Leaves Town

   1995 Elektra

Most of you reading this are familiar with Queens of the Stone Age.  What many of you don’t know (and those of you who DO are terminally cool) is that Queens of the Stone Age guitarist/chief songwriter Josh Homme’s previous band is one of the coolest bands ever and is now legendary as a pioneer of the so-called “stoner rock” genre.

Yep, I’m talking about this band here…Kyuss.   If you’ve never heard Kyuss before, imagine Black Sabbath waking up one day and deciding that life’s okay after all, and you’ve got a really good idea of what to expect. The sound is fuzzy and bassy in pure homage (Homme-age?) to the Sabbath sound, and the meaty hooks serve as fertile ground for singer John Garcia’s often cryptic lyrical ventures.

Big, lumbering power chords push their way through your woofers creating a soundscape that is perfectly depicted on the cover art and inside cover photos.  Open and barren, yet full of life and vibrance, Kyuss is another one of those bands who are a world unto themselves…and there’s plenty of room for all to become inhabitants.

“Hurricane” kicks off the album with a pulsing riff and Garcia’s vocals are inside the mix rather than cutting through, which only serves to add to the mystique of what he’s singing.   The lyrics, once you delve into them, exhibit an intelligence, wit, and big sense of humor, often spilling over into the song titles themselves.  To wit:  “Thee Ol’ Boozeroony,” “Tangy Zizzle,” “Jumbo Blimp Jumbo,” “One Inch Man.”

There’s not a weak track on the whole dang thing, even instrumentals like “Thee Ol’ Boozeroony” and “Tangy Zizzle” prooving to be jamming and memorable.  “One Inch Man” was the single off the album and was a great choice because while it’s a really good track that represents their sound well, it’s not the strongest track on the album.  For my ears, that designation goes to “Gloria Lewis,” with its slow, sludgy and impossibly pulsating groove.  Man, this song just riles me up every time I hear it.

I remember seeing these guys at Tipitina’s in New Orleans on the “Welcome To Sky Valley” tour and they were just incredible.   I have a bootleg video of the concert (I didn’t just say that) that I pull out from time to time and relive the experience.   After ‘…And the Circus Leaves Town’ was released, I suggested to a club owner in Baton Rouge, LA (Papa Joe’s…RIP) that he should book them and he did.

And I had tickets.

And then they broke up a month before their scheduled show.

Major bummer.

“Catamaran” and “Spaceship Landing” close out the disc in fine fashion, and indeed close out the Kyuss chapter in rock history.  Kyuss disbanded a mere 3 months after its release and have no plans to reform, Homme seeming to prefer to maintain the band’s status as an underground legend rather than cash in on a reunion.  That’s just fine with me, although if they ever change their mind I’ll be first in line.

Rating:  4 out of 5