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Published: 2007/02/19
by Brad Farberman

Battery Milk – Mike Dillon’s Go-Go Jungle

Hyena Records

Following time in prison and a six-month morphine binge, Mike Dillon broke into a high school in Texas in the early 1990s and stole a vibraphone. Rather than pawn it, as he had the rest of his gear, he practiced Thelonious Monk songs.

The rest is history. Since then, he’s played with Galactic and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, stepped it up full-time with Critters Buggin and Garage A Trois, and toured with Les Claypool and Ani DiFranco. In 2006 he appeared on Claypool’s latest, Of Whales and Woe, and on Sex Mob’s Grammy-nominated Sexotica.

But, like many great sidemen, Dillon wants to lead, too. So, without further adieu, Mike D. brings you his Go-Go Jungle and their first record, Battery Milk, a punk/jazz party that owes as much to the Bad Brains as it does to Bobby Hutcherson.

The disc opens with a pair of instrumentals including “Broc’s Last Stand,” a tune that reeks of Jacob Fred’s pungent aroma. Drummer “Go-Go” Ray Pollard and either Ron Johnson or J.J. “Jungle” Richards on bass (the liners decline to note who appears where) sizzle beneath Dillon’s shimmering vibes work, recalling JFJO’s Rhodes-fueled fury.

"The Blame Game” introduces another side of Dillon’s new repertoire. Following several minutes of spacey jamming straight out of the Critters Buggin Real Book, we’re treated to Dillon’s low-growl vocals (think John Lurie or Tom Waits) and introspective lyrics. “Don’t be expecting someone else to make your ship set sail,” he snarls.

Other highlights include a slow, behind-the-beat arrangement of Aaron Neville’s “Hercules,” sung by Richards, and the presence of Mark Southerland’s filthy tenor saxophone on several tracks, most notably “Lopsided Melon Ball” and the opening “Go-Go’s Theme.”

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