I don’t know if Peter Buck, the fellow who played guitar in that band from Athens, Georgia, intended his third solo release to be “funny” but damn it, it is.  It’s also rockin’ and great on one side and eerily experimental but no less good on the other.  His no-bullshit approach to recording and releasing his new music is a blast – record it and get it out on vinyl only – and again, he strikes while the iron is hot.  His first two solo LPs were equally enjoyable but this new 4-song 7″ that plays at 33 (oh, how I love saying things like “33” and “LP” – the way God intended it), Opium Drivel, is just charge-ahead, rock & roll on the “B Side” and ethereal and enveloping on the “B B side”.

Kicking into immediate high gear with “Portrait Of A Sorry Man”, Buck’s deadpan dry vocals reel off a list of regrets around a motoring riff which yields to a straight-time beat/rhythm and power chords – and catchy lyrics (“…I’m sorry I invented indie rock; I’m a turd on the radio…”); “If This Is Love Can I Have My Money Back?” has a “Takin’ Care Of Business”-kind of opening with some low-fi guitar soloing, leading to a group-singalong and great lyrics like “…Baby, I wanna tell you one thing that’s true – I’m gettin’ no younger but neither are you…”  – brilliant.  “Drown With Me” and “Welcome To The Party” sound like they could have been done by Neutral Milk Hotel; I’m presuming they’re demos that Buck did with Scott McCaughey but again, they’ve got a certain something that makes them interesting.

For someone who never sang in all his years with R.E.M., he’s got an interesting take on delivering vocals.  But whether you dig it or not, you have to love a guy who releases a single in a stylized tribute to The Cramps.  That’s Peter Buck for sure – solo artist and die-hard rock music fan turned hero/legend himself.  This one’s a “turn it up” moment…


Opium Drivel is available.  If you can find it.



About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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