Tapes from the Crypt

by Ryan

First off, my apologies for missing my post last week, I was pretty busy. I know you all missed me so I’ll crack on.

I’ve been checking the Jeff Lewis website for ‘tapes from the crypt’ for years, and its always been out of stock – until now! The tapes have returned and are now available again to buy from www.thejeffreylewissite.com. This is a selection of tracks from his early home recordings, pre-‘last time I did acid’ era. The tracks are rough, but this only adds to their charm, and they offer a great insight into his early work. This is like the bootleg Bob Dylan series, but far more personal. Unfortunately I’ve only been able to find one track on youtube, and I wouldn’t say its one of the better ones, plus its a live version.

But here it is anyway:

From early listening I’d suggest that highlights are ‘together we form Jeff’,  ‘no feelings in my heart’ and ‘the complete history of Jeff’s sexual conquests, vol. 1’. In the first of these, Jeff dubs his voice on twice, the two parts taking turns to describe what makes up Jeff.

“I’m Jeff’s brain and I like math, I’m the heart I like to laugh, I know life’s just meaningless, I still think that hope exists, I like singing and book reading, I just like drinking and eating, I like learning lots of things, I just like to draw and sing. together we form Jeff!”

‘No feelings in my heart’ is comparable to the east river or don’t be upset. It’s one of Jeff’s wonderfully honest personal songs, in which he expresses his fears that he’ll never find love.

“My heart’s just that thing next to my lungs, no more feelings than my leg or my tongue, my heart pumps in, my heart pumps out, that’s all that my hearts about, so I can’t have no feelings in my heart”

‘A complete history of jeff’s sexual conquests, vol. 1’ is similarly honest, but as a listener you find yourself torn between laughter and empathy. For anyone out there who ever struggled sexually, (and remember, I do know you all) this is a song to perk you up. It reminded me straight away of his comics, in which he’s also entirely open about his sexual failings. The song is not so much about sexual conquests as a history of jeff’s emotional development and the people that involved – it doesn’t actually conclude with him having sex.

In the introduction he says:

“This is the complete history of Jeff’s sexual conquests volume one. This covers from kindergarten to senior year of high school. Therefore it’s not a very long song. ..that’s my little joke. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent, the names have all been kept the same, to incriminate the guilty.”

That’s all I’m going to give you from that song as it’s really something that should be enjoyed as a whole.

So this cd isn’t available anywhere online as far as a can tell (but I’m no whizz at this sort of thing), it is only available to order from the Jeff Lewis site, but only costs 8 dollars. If you’re not a Jeffrey Lewis fan already, its not the best one to start with; I’d suggest ‘it’s the ones who’ve cracked that the lights shine through’ for you. But for anyone else, I HIGHLY recommend you buy this. Oh – also, ‘his name was water’ ends with an impromptu rendition of the tripping out section from  ‘last time I did acid I went insane’ which puts everything into context very nicely.

Finally, as my post has provided little music for you, this is a band that is perfect for sunny afternoons when all your work is done. Which is why I’ve been listening to them in the past week. (A little gloat there – keep working guys!)

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One thought on “Tapes from the Crypt

  1. It might be a surprise to hear but I managed to get the Tapes off a p2p service a while ago. I like the Sexual Encounters one the most and the entire album reminds me of your room at uni. The production quality is rather poor but I reckon that adds to his ‘slightly quirky normal guy’ feel.

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