Twenty-Two Miles Of Hard Road: Souljacker Turns 20

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eels – Souljacker

Released September 19th, 2001 on DreamWorks Records

Produced by E and John Parish

Peaked at #12 U.K.

Singles:

Souljacker Pt. 1” (#30 U.K.)

My first year of university was a year where I discovered that the eels, Mark Oliver Everett’s nom de guerre, were more than just a one-album wonder. Sure, I’d heard “Novocaine For The Soul” in the Nineties. Who didn’t? “My Beloved Monster And Me” had also shown up on the Shrek soundtrack and the odd banger “Susan’s House” had been a minor radio hit as well. I completely spaced on the next two albums, though. Blame it on growing up in a small town, blame it on limited radio markets that were being consolidated in the last half of the Nineties, blame clueless marketers. Two very good friends I developed in my first year were both fans of the band and were taken aback that I’d never heard either 1998’s Electro-Shock Blues or 2000’s Daisies Of The Galaxy. They rectified this situation, of course, just in time for Souljacker to come out shortly after. I was in eels overload mode, and at the time “Souljacker Pt 1” seemed like the perfect apocalyptic accompaniment to the world a week after 9/11.

In retrospect it’s probably the last really great eels album; the stuff he put out after is fine, rising to brilliant in places, but Souljacker was, I think, the last record that was one stellar song after another, start to finish. This was Mr. E putting on his best rock persona, with the hard riffs of “Souljacker”, “Dog Faced Boy”, “Teenage Witch”, and the extended jam of “Jungle Telegraph” setting the stage for some serious pyrotechnics. “That’s Not Really Funny” continued the bleak-eyed dance explosions of “Cancer For The Cure” and “Hospital Food” from the near-suicidal Electro-Shock Blues, while “Woman Driving, Man Sleeping” and “Friendly Ghost” toughened up the more childlike acoustic whimsy of Daisies Of The Galaxy. It’s everything he’d done before, but slightly better.

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