America Snores: Grant Lee Buffalo / Shiva Burlesque

Grant Lee Buffalo Portrait

Grant Lee Buffalo revolved around the singing and song writing talents of Grant Lee Phillips. Phillips was born in 1963 in Stockton, California. As a teenager his musical influences were split equally between rock (Bowie, Alice Cooper and Kiss) and country (Buck Owens, Merle Haggard) so when he did begin playing guitar and writing his own original compositions he attempted to meld both of his preferred styles as one.

At the age of 19 Phillips moved to Los Angles where by day he worked as a roofer and at night attended film school. Weekends were reserved for music. The following year a Stockton friend, Jeffery Clark, also moved to Los Angles. Renting a house together Phillips who

“specialized in “psychedelic acoustic 12-string,” feedback included”

and Clark whose

“Jim Morrison-influenced vocals were the stuff of high sweeping drama”

along with a drum machine started writing and performing under the name Shiva Burlesque. When the drum machine died they added upright bassist James Brenner and drummer/marimba player Joey Peters.

Their self titled debut album was released in 1987 by Nate Starkman & Son.

“Shiva Burlesque screams “art rock” from its colorful gatefold sleeve iconography (a reproduction of a painting by Deborah Lawrence).”

The music is “an ambitious mélange of styles and moods”, a mixture of atmospheric pop, shimmering folk-rock and stream-of-consciousness, post-punk freneticism.

By the time their second album, 1990’s Mercury Blues, was released the group was now a quintet with the addition of Greg Adamson on cello and Paul Kimble replacing Brenner on bass, but internal tensions broke the band up. Following the groups’ break-up Grant, Paul and Joey started playing dates a trio.

After performing under several different names they finally settled on Grant Lee Buffalo. They landed a weekly residence at Cafe Largo in West Hollywood in the early ’90s where they perfected their songs and live show, while also building up a following.

A demo tape sent to the Singles Only label (headed by Hüsker Dü/Sugar frontman Bob Mould), resulted in the song “Fuzzy” being released as a single in 1992. Extensive airplay on Boston radio created a buzz about the about the band which lead to interest by other record labels. The trio signed with Slash Records who released their full-length debut, 1993s Fuzzy.

Most of Fuzzy‘s 11 songs date back to the latter days of Shiva Burlesque. Produced and engineered by bassist Paul Kimble

and partially recorded in his 16-track garage studio, Fuzzy packs a startling one-two punch. Its rich, three-dimensional production manages to locate the trio all over the listening space in almost orchestral fashion.”

and

“tunes like “Soft Wolf Tread,” “Dixie Drug Store” and the title cut fuse the richly American imagery of the burgeoning alt country movement with a California gothic sensibility that was all their own.”

Fuzzy was critically well received and it certainly didn’t hurt sales when

REM’s Michael Stipe cited the band’s debut album Fuzzy as his favorite album of 1993.”

Grant Lee Buffalo supported the release with nearly a year of solid touring, opening for the likes of Pearl Jam, Cracker, Sugar, World Party, Ultra Vivid Scene and ex-Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg.

Their sophomore effort, 1994’s Mighty Joe Moon, with it’s gentle ballad “Mockingbirds,” spawned their first single/video to attract the attention of MTV and radio. Produced again by Paul Kimble the completed album is a major work

“whose creators are clearly under the spells once cast by Phil Spector, George Martin, Brian Wilson and Jack Nitzsche.”

1995 found the group touring, supporting REM on their “Monster” tour of Australia and The Cranberries in the USA. The year would also see Grant being named best male vocalist by Rolling Stone magazine.

The bands third album, Copperopolis , named for a tiny town in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills was released in mid 1996. Produced again by Kimble the album also featured guest artists Ralph Carney (sax, clarinet) and Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar). Unlike it’s two predecessors the album is quieter and more folk-oriented and tackles more

“traditional Guthrie/Dylan/Springsteen subject matter.”

Like the previous two albums Copperopolis was released to critical acclaim only to suffer disappointing sales. Cracks now started to appear within the group and in the spring of 1997 Grant fired Paul Kimble from the band. With the addition of keyboardist Jon Brion and bassist Dan Rothschild they recorded and released 1998s Jubilee. The album was critically acclaimed but even with the radio success of the single “Truly, Truly” the album proved a commercial failure. Changes at Slash Records resulted in the label declining to renew the band’s contact at the same time Grant and Joey parted company and decided to drop the contract themselves. Grant Lee Buffalo formally split on June 9, 1999.

Since the break-up the members have all been active musically. Joey Peters and Paul Kimble have continued to tour and record, with Paul producing other artists records.

Phillips solo career has resulted in 2000’s Ladies’ Love Oracle and 2001’s Mobilize both of which were completely penned and performed by the ex-Grant Lee Buffalo frontman. He has also guested on albums by such other artists as the Eels, Neil Finn, Harvey Danger, Robyn Hitchcock, and Michael Penn.

2001 saw a 30-track Grant Lee Buffalo overview entitled Storm Hymnal: Gems From the Vault of Grant Lee Buffalo released in England. Always more popular in England than in the states it would be three years before Rhino released it stateside.

 

DISCOGRAPHY

Shiva Burlesque

Full-Length

Shiva Burlesque (CD, Album) (Nate Starkman & Son ) 1987
Mercury Blues (CD, Album) (Fundamental) 1990

Tracks Appear On:

“The Black Ship” The Fundamental Hymnal (CD, LP) (Fundamental) 1989
“Arabesque” Viva Los Angeles II (CD) (Viva Records) 1990
“Sick Friend” Best Of 2004 Reissues Volume Two (CD) (Uncut Magazine) 2004
“Do The Pony” Sin City 14 L.A. Rock Classics (CD) (Uncut Magazine) 2004

Grant Lee Buffalo

Singles, EPs & Full-Length

Blue Plate Special EP (CD Single) (Slash Records) 1992
America Snoring (12″, Single) (Slash / London) 1993
Buffalondon Live (CD, Mini-album) (Slash / London) 1993
Fuzzy (CD, Album, Single) (Slash / London) 1993
Jupiter and Teardrop (CD Single) (Slash Records) 1993
Mighty Joe Moon (CD, Album) (Slash / London / Reprise) 1994
Let Go of My Hand (CD Single) (London Records) 1994
Like a Shot [Live] (CD) (KTS) 1994
Lone Star Song (CD Single) (Slash Records) 1994
Mockingbirds (CD Single) (Slash Records) 1994
Paranoid City – Rockefeller Music Hall Oslo 15.10.94 (CD) 1994
Honey Don’t Think [EP] (CD) (Slash Records) 1995
Copperopolis (CD) (Slash / London) 1996
Mr Know It All (CD Single) (Slash / London / Barclay) 1996
Two and Two (CD Single) (Slash Records) 1996
Betlehem Steel (CD Single) (Slash / Reprise) 1996
Crashing at Corona (CD Single) (Slash / Reprise) 1996
Homespun (CD Single) (Slash / Reprise) 1996
Norvegian Wood – Oslo 16.06.96 (CD) 1996
Stars and Stripes [Live Oslo 16.06.96] (CD) (Spider) 1996
Yours Truely (CD Single) (Slash Records) 1997
Jubilee (CD, Album) (Slash / London) 1998
Testimony (CD Single) (Slash / Warner Bros) 1998
Truely, Truely (CD Single) (Slash / Warner Bros) 1998
Storm Hymnal: Gems from the Vault of Grant Lee Buffalo (2xCD) (Rhino / Wea) 2001

Tracks Appear On:

“Fuzzy” 2 Meter Sessies – Volume 4 (CD) (Radio Records) 1993
“Jupiter And Teardrop” Five Alive Take Three (Cass) (Melody Maker) 1993
“Fuzzy” Opération Libération (CD, Maxi) (Island Records) 1993
“Fuzzy” The Greatest Hits ’93 Vol.4 (CD) (Magnum) 1993
Heck On Wheels Volume 6 (Qwest) 1993
“Drag” Live at Roskilde Festival ’94 1994
“Mockingbirds” Grooves – Volume Five (CD) (Time Life Music) 1994
“We’ve Only Just Begun” If I Were A Carpenter (CD, 7×7″ + Box) (A&M Records) 1994
“America Snoring” New Musical Express Singles Of The Week 1993 (CD) (BMG) 1994
“Lady Godiva And Me” Really Free (CD, Album) (Q Magazine) 1994
“Fuzzy” With Honors: Music From The Motion Picture (CD) (Maverick, Warner Bros) 1994
“Soft Wolf Tread” Lee Legends County Seat Future Legends of Rock (CD) (CEMA) 1994
“Mockingbirds” huH, Volume 1 (CD) 1994
“America Snoring” NME: Singles of the Week 1993 (CD) (BMG UK & Ireland) 1994
“Gold Chain Drag” Trademark of Quality (CD) (Warner Bros.) 1994
“The Ongoing Story of Might Joe Moon” REV 105 Radio Archive, Volume 1 1995
“Mockingbirds” Mad Love (CD) (Zoo) 1995
“Soft Wolf Tread [BBC]” …Hold On: BBC Radio 1FM Sessions (CD) 1995
“Mockingbirds” Collision 3 (CD) (White Label Records) 1995
“Soft Wolf Tread” …Hold On (CD) (Melody Maker) 1995
“In My Room” Friends (CD) (Warner UK/Reprise Records) 1995
“Fuzzy” What’s Up 3 More Greatest Rock Hits Of The 90’s (CD) (Magnum) 1995
“Lone Star Song” Wild CD 01 (CD) (Wild Magazine) 1995
“Homespun” huH Volume 22 (CD) 1996
“Bethlehem Steel” huH (disc 24) (CD) 1996
Alternative Summer (CD) (Warner/Reprise) 1996
“Arousing Thunder” Definitivt Beat Nr 3 · 96 (CD) (Beat) 1996
“Arousing Thunder” Norwegian Wood 1996 (CD) (Not On Label) 1996
“Fuzzy” Les Inrockuptibles: 10 ans/100 chansons (disc 4) (CD) (Small) 1997
“APB” Silvertab Nu Grooves (CD) (Warner Bros.) 1998
“Truly, Truly” Promo Only: Mainstream Radio, August 1998
“Truly, Truly” CMJ New Music Monthly, Volume 60: August 1998
“Truly, Truly” Monster Magnet (Rock Tune Up) (2 x CD) 1998
“Truly, Truly” Motor Music Info CD Oktober 1998 (CD) (Motor Music) 1998
“The Whole Shebang” Neon Magazine: 15 Great Movie Tracks (CD) 1998
“The Whole Shebang” Velvet Goldmine – Music From The Original Motion Picture (CD) (London Records) 1998
“Truly, Truly” Zone 105: Zone Sessions Volume One [Live] (CD) (Vyna Media) 1998
“Truly, Truly” Today & Yesterday Celebrating 30 Years of the Electric Fetus 1968-1998 (2 x CD) (Electris Fetus) 1998
“Testimony” I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (CD) (Warner Brothers) 1998
“Testimony” Best Buy Presents: Guitars, Guitars, Guitars – 1998 (disc 1) (CD)
“Jupiter And Teardrop” Trigger Happy TV – Soundtrack To Series 2 (CD) (Channel Four Music) 2001
“Fuzzy” Rolling Stone: Rare Trax Vol. 22 – 12 Golden Greats (CD) (Rolling Stone Germany) 2002
“Fuzzy” Dimitris Papaspyropoulos Presents “Blessed And Cursed” (CD) (Eros Music) 2004
“Fuzzy” All That Alternative (disc 3) (CD) 2005
“Mockingbirds” Whatever: The ’90s Pop & Culture Box (disc 5) (CD) (Rhino) 2005
“Stars N’ Stripes” Former Futures (MP3, Files) (Earthfight.com ) 2008
“Lonestar Song” KROQ: New Music 1995
Now Hear This
“Homespun” Details: Music Matters 8
“Superslomotion” Details: Music Matters 10
Valentine’s Day with Tami + Dan: Hits Post Modern Syndrome
“Fuzzy” Always Tomorrow (disc 1)
“Fuzzy” Heck on Wheels, Volume 2
“Jupiter and Teardrop” Q DCCCD II
“Lady Godiva and Me” Q: Really Free
“Lonestar Song” The Trip 5
“Two & Two” V-71 (disc 1)
“Truly, Truly” Zone Sessions, Volume 1
“It’s the Life” Gilmore Girls UST 1 (disc 1)
“Truly, Truly” Gilmore Girls UST 1 (disc 2)
“Everybody Needs a Little Sanctuary” Gilmore Girls UST 2 (disc 1)
“Honey Don’t Think” Gilmore Girls UST 2 (disc 2)
“Happiness” House M.D.: Season 1

 

Shiva Burlesque

Playing Time: 36 minutes 50 seconds

Shiva Burlesque

1. Indian Summer (3:35)
2.Two Suns (5:30)
3.The Lonesome Death of Shadow Morton (3:40)
4.The Black Ship (5:38)
5. Morning (3:17)
6. Work the Rat (3:06)
7. Water Lilies (3:42)
8.Train Mystery (3:36)
9. Marysupermarket (4:46)

Buy Shiva Burlesque from Amazon.com

Grant Lee Buffalo – Fuzzy

Playing Time: 48 minutes 47 seconds

Grant Lee Buffalo - Fuzzy

1.The Shining Hour (3:53)
2. Jupiter and Teardrop (5:57)
3. Fuzzy (4:59)
4. Wish You Well (3:30)
5. The Hook (4:14)
6. Soft Wolf Tread (2:52)
7. Stars n’ Stripes (4:43)
8. Dixie Drug Store (5:08)
9. America Snoring (3:40)
10. Grace (6:15)
11. You Just Have to be Crazy (3:36)

Buy Fuzzy from Amazon.com

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