Desert Sessions - 7 & 8 [Rekords Rekords / Southern Lord - 2002]The Desert Sessions concept is pretty cool. Bring some friends to a studio in the desert, jam a little, write some songs, record and release it with a sticker on the sleeve saying: "Featuring Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age members". It could be a cheap marketing trick from some slick record company manager, but the Desert Sessions are far from that.
Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age mainman Josh Homme started these sessions a couple of years ago. Inviting some friends, bring them to the 11AD studios in Alainville and just have a good time recording music. This album is my first introduction to the Desert Sessions, so I have no idea how good previous sessions are, but if they're all like this I will start tracking them down.
Musicians collobarating on this record are Mark Lanegan, Alain Johannes (Eleven and Chris Cornell Band), Natasha Shneider (Eleven and Chris Cornell Band), Chris Goss (Masters of Reality), Brendon McNichol (Panic Institute, QOTSA), Fred Drake (Earthlings) and Nick Eldorado (Like Hell). Some of the outstanding tracks are Don't Drink Poison, a 'gypsy march' according to the description at the Rekords Rekords site. It features Josh Homme on vocals and an instrument called a Marxaphone. I guess this is the instrument that gives the song an oriental feeling. Hanging Tree is the first version from the same song played by QOTSA on Songs For The Deaf, it doesn't differ much from the second version. Up In Hell is similar to the other 'gypsy march', but a little more edgy. Nevada is a great song with Russian vocals by Natasha Schneider. Cold Sore Superstars stands out as one of the most instesting tracks on the album. Kinda jazzy with great saxophone lines, in a desert rock way. Making A Cross is a pretty cool ballad. Alain Johannes' vocals are perfect for this song. He might not be the best singer in the world, but it's emotional and sad, which fits the song best.
Besides a couple of joke tracks (Winners, Covousier, Piano Bench Breaks), Desert Sessions 7 & 8 is a fine album with some interesting compositions and experimentations in desert rock. I think Josh Homme had this quality and enjoyment in mind when he started the first sessions. So QOTSA, Kyuss and desert/stoner rock fans not afraid for some experimentation within their favourite genre can get this album immediatly. Niels van Rongen