John Doe, Forever Hasn't Happened Yet
Forever Hasn't Happened Yet (Yep Roc)
The fine L.A. punk band X had an insistent sense of musical history that set it apart from most. John Doe's sixth solo album is an exercise in the country and blues that his old band occasionally visited, though never so openly or with such indulgence. Doe provides the perfect model for the punk-to-preacher career path that some of his Angeleno compadres, if they weren't dead, might have profited from. Those lost souls turn up in the snarling rocker "Ready", which is the album's loudest song and dirtiest dose. Everything else is warm and luxurious. Doe might call this "old music", but it's certainly not an album of dust-bowl chokers. The lush and romantic Hollywood country of "Your Parade" could easily have sprung from a Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb collaboration. Album opener "The Losing Kind" is a wheezing, chugging marvel that sounds both flea-bitten and vital. It also continues a weird connection to the Doors that stretches all the way back to X's work with producer Ray Manzarek, as Doe self-consciously turns his voice into Jim Morrison's. "Hwy 5" is another big-chorus number that carries an extra charge: it was cowritten with Exene Cervenka and sung with Neko Case. That's not to suggest there's anything prosaic about straightforward tunes like "There's a Black Horse", or the moonlit blues of "Worried Brow". Having grown into such an impressive singer, Doe reveals gifts in his least-complicated musical moments that smog-choked L.A. must have damn near destroyed.