Some say he’s a living legend and an icon but whatever you refer to him as, it’s undeniable that his distinct voice has fronted countless equally distinct bands including Unida, Hermano, Kyuss, Slo Burn, and Vista Chino who’ve laid the foundation of what we refer to as Desert Rawk. Now he’s back with a record unlike anything fans have ever heard. Sure, John Garcia’s done an acoustic jam on a record or two (Kyuss’ “Space Cadet” comes to mind immediately which makes an appearance here) but an entire unplugged album? With reinterpretations of Kyuss classics alongside originals? Yeah, no. We’re in unknown territory here, people.
“Green Machine” is the song that got this reviewer into Kyuss originally (Thanks Riki Rachtman and Headbanger’s Ball!) and Blues For The Res Sun was a defining album in my formative years so hearing this almost mythical song re-done by the master himself in such a fresh, interesting way is like the second coming. Never mind it being acoustic, expertly plucked by Ehren Groban, by dropping the tempo it now almost plays like a lullaby instead of a full on rocker replete with Garcia’s whispered croon.
Unlike a lot of vocalists of that era who can’t hit those same notes for shit, Garcia belts away with unearthly aplomb. Take the scream on the updated acoustic “El Rodeo”, originally plugged in on Kyuss’ final …And The Circus Leaves Town. Then there’s a massive wall of sound originally found within “Gardenia” which is absolutely turned on its head here. And forget the fact that the original behemoth clocks in at seven minutes while the update is half that.
Then there’s the originals.
Beginning with “Kylie” which rages despite being an unplugged jam or “The Hollingsworth Session” being equally magical while also dark and eerie with Garcia’s trademark howl stealing the show. “Give Me 250ML” just rawks and then later “Argleben II” infuses even more soul into the mystical proceedings until the instrumental “Court Order” subtly rides the listener off into the aural sunset.