Lee Ranaldo & The Dust
Last Night On Earth
The Grateful Dead as rather mellow noise rock, with jams built in? That is Last Night On Earth. Lee and his band, which includes Steve Shelly, does a mighty good take on both Mickey Hart and Billy Kreutzmann. Alan Licht does his best Bob Weir and bassist Tim Luntzel takes Phil Lesh’s part, and craft an album that honors the Dead. While there are very few ways you can play the Dead at this point, Lee and his band manage to find a new one.
The jams are not over extended, which is one of the biggest irritants of the jam band scene. Instead, they fit into the overall songs and stretch them out so Lee and Alan can show their considerable skill. Lee, whose guitar playing I've always preferred over Thurston’s, is much different here than Kim's with Body/Head, even though Kim has the chops to match Lee. This is his chance to carve out a legacy and sound of his own, especially now with Sonic Youth scattered for good.
The lyrics are just what Lee always writes: thoughtful mediations on life and relationships. I've always liked his writing, and always wanted to hear more on any SY album. Now we get two albums' worth, counting Between The Times and Tides, and that’s extremely welcome. Put it all together for an album that matches Body/Head, and that makes me hope that SY doesn’t reform. Both solo projects give us more of Lee and Kim than SY ever did.