Following the Gun Club's 1984 release, The Las Vegas Album, the band, never too stable anyway with a fluctuating lineup, disintegrated. Main man Jeffrey Lee Pierce released this solo album the following year, and it promptly sank under the radar. Newly reissued 10 years after Pierce's death, its worth is revealed as more than a curio, with Pierce consistently on form throughout.
Accompanied by a core pick-up band consisting of bassist John Mackenzie and The
Cure's drummer, Andy Anderson, Pierce took on nearly all the guitar duties himself,
exploring what sounds like a deep Tom Verlaine fixation in the process. With
its crisp production and brittle-sounding guitars, Wildweed is a tight,
disciplined collection of songs, and despite its title and cover image of Pierce
pictured against a desolate rural landscape, this is a far more urban sound than
the combination of punk blues and mutant swamp-rock usually associated with the
Gun Club, best remembered for their striking 1981 debut, Fire of Love,
which included "Sex Beat" and "She's Like Heroin to Me."
Keeping the rhythms angular a sort of jerky, bleached-out funkless funk Pierce and band go through their paces on a series of bleak rockers that mix bleak lyrical narratives with Television-style trebly guitar textures. Pierce's vocals are more controlled than on previous outings, less apt to wander off-key, and his guitar style, though fairly rudimentary, perfectly suits his songs, stripped down to urgent riffing and sparse, splintered solos.
Alongside the mainly mid-paced stuff, there are a couple of strong ballads the piano-led "From Temptation to You" (Pierce's voice has a nice vibrato quality on the high notes here) and the histrionic "The Midnight Promise," which contains Pierce's best guitar solo on the album and a storming, high-velocity title track, where Pierce finally blows his cool and lets rip with some explosive, fuzzy guitar. The tracks added to this reissue come from an EP appended to the original vinyl release, and if the Wildweed album proper shows Pierce at his most disciplined, the two spoken-word tracks, "The Fertility Goddess" and "Portrait of the Artist in Hell," unfortunately reveal his tendency towards pretension and self-indulgence, being, respectively, a William Burroughs pastiche and a poor attempt at avant-funk abstraction.
Rounding things off are a not-bad Flipper cover, "Get Away," and a pointless, very '80s remix of the album opener, "Love & Desperation." The original Wildweed is well worth hearing. Pierce followed it a couple of years later with a new Gun Club record, his late masterpiece Mother Juno (reissued alongside this album), but here you get a different side to Pierce, and work of a quality that's more deserving than mere footnote status.