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Daniel Johnston - Rejected Unknown

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 17 / 12 / 2001

Daniel Johnston - Rejected Unknown
Label: Pickled Egg
Format: CD


It's been over five years since 'Fun', Daniel Johnston's last album, was thrown onto the market by the Atlantic label, and four and a half since it became available as a cut out. Daniel Johnston has

It's been over five years since 'Fun', Daniel Johnston's last album, was thrown onto the market by the Atlantic label, and four and a half since it became available as a cut out. Daniel Johnston has turned completely grey in the meantime but don't let this fool us ! The archetypal tormented soul has only changed for the better. Pickled Egg, the small independent label from Leicestershire in Britain, ,has acknowledged this by releasing this superbly packed album. Six years of Daniel waiting for a dream girl to take him by the hand have resulted in literally hands full of worthwhile to excellent material. "You hurt me so bad" is the opening line of the album and Daniel continues a few lines later with "And what have I become". Mr Johnston is today's most impressive blues rock singer! But he's not a blues singer at all. When he gives insight into his soul, he's so goddamn honest that if this doesn't hit the spot, there's something dramatically wrong with you. What's even more alarming, is that, as "Rejected Unknown" is such an excellent music album as well, Daniel's not getting the full reward, You probably won't care though, as you might think that he's a geek whining about impossible love. Should John Lennon be still alive -this is a touchy statement I know- he'd be thoroughly recommending this album. The former single 'Dream Scream' is now that Lennon is no longer with us where the American kid is picking up the thread now. It combines glorious songwriting with seemingly silly rhyming but it works. The sharp ends that dominated his previous albums and cassettes are neatly disguised on "Rejected Unknown". Producer Brian Beattie does a good job here by giving the right frames of reference to Daniel's very particular imagination . The overdose of lo-fi recording and the oceans of surface noise that scarred his previous recordiings have been substituted by crystal clear sound. Daniel's still a tense guy but his songs are cherished by these much richer arrangements. Occasionally the work of Van Dyke Parks comes to mind. There's a vaudeville feel to much of 'Rejected Unknown'. Surely you'll argue that he's weird and naive, but he is resigned to it and still continues to demonstrate there' is genius to his oddness. I've returned to this album much more often than to any of his handmade cassettes from 10-15 years ago. Surprisingly none of the songs are under three minutes. However raunchy and punchy these songs here are, they've been well elaborated by Brian Beattie. Some attempts at regular pop music also leave an excellent impression: 'Cathy Cline' is a ballad with soft but true touches of strings. Daniel's probably too wacky for most but Rejected Unknown' is his most refined effort yet. Not giving in and showing a joy in performing, Daniel Johnston does show a mature side to his twisted pop music. He's a genius in his own right. Closing off with 'I Lose' suits him fine though you want him to be proved wrong. Daniel will play a few dates at the start of November. London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Nijmegen. The latter has to be confirmed. It will be Daniel's only German gig (Canadian joke).

Track Listing:-
1 Impossible Love
2 Funeral Girl
3 Dream Scream
4 Love Forever
5 Cathy Cline
6 Devinare
7 Party
8 The Spook
9 Girl of My Dreams
10 Billions/Rock
11 Thrill
12 Favourite Darling Girl
13 Some Time Spent in Heaven
14 Wedding Ring bells Blues
15 I Lose

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