Lift To Experience - The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads Deluxe Edition album review

Deep South noise rock trio’s legendary concept album repackaged.

Lift To Experience - The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads album artwork

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They say everyone has one novel in them, in which case maybe everyone has a concept album too. If so, then Lift To Experience’s only release is surely the one frontman Josh T Pearson was born to make. Their 2001 double album The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads takes a love of the Lone Star state and a head full of fire and brimstone Christian prophecies to portray Texas as the promised land, with our heroes witnessing the second coming, right on their doorstep.

No sniggering at the back, please. Because boldly, sometimes faintly ridiculously, the trio pulled it off, with a blend of cacophonous, apocalyptic noise rock, prayer-like incantations and hymnal warbling from Pearson, a soundscape full of blood, thunder and sometimes gentle beauty, which sounded instantly original for all its evident influences (My Bloody Valentine and Jeff Buckley, primarily). On release, the band had no clue that their work would become embraced by tastemakers and rock’s counterculture alike. The unexpected spotlight led to disintegration (but a lauded solo career for JTP). This reissue offers a remix of the original album along with a previously released EP and four Peel Session tracks. Pearson has welcomed the chance to have the album remastered, and there’s no doubt it adds muscle and clarity to the reverberating sonic rapture of opener Just As Was Told (a big step forward from the instrumental version included among the Peel session tracks), and it heightens the drama of the quiet-loud dynamics or Falling From Cloud 9.

The bonus tracks display a wall of sound that’s still imposing, if missing a little mortar to hold it all together, but the unreleased songs aren’t quite as striking without being shot through with the startling conceptual narrative of the album proper. The World Behind, released on an earlier EP, is a standout, albeit more Buckley-esque than ever. Does that suggest this was a band who never quite found that second great idea? You decide.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock