“I grew up in an alternate dimension where Nirvana didn’t exist”

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Shaded Pain

L. S. U. (Lifesavers Underground) “Ellis In The Orchard” (from The Grape Prophet LP, Blonde Vinyl Records)

This is the opening song from L. S. U.’s rock opera The Grape Prophet (which is not the album cover featured above).

Really, Everett, you should go to the band’s Bandcamp page and download this record in its entirety. Naysayers will make Jane’s Addiction comparisons, and they will not be wrong. But there is so much more to frontman Michael Knott and this record, which is as combustible and bizarre as any truly remarkable alternative record from the 90s.

Knott’s first band Lifesavers wrote friendly enough radio fare for the Christian market, but he always saved his darkest ruminations for his alter-ego, Lifesavers Underground. The band’s debut, Shaded Pain, remains a classic in Christian music history. Of course, it caused Christian DJs to double over in pain, as this album is Bauhaus black in tone. Rolling Stone’s J. Edward Keyes gives it 4.5 stars in his All Music Guide review, and he awards The Grape Prophet the same score. Rightly so, in my estimation.

I could tell you about Michael Knott’s other 40 albums, or about Blonde Vinyl, the record label he fronted, which crashed to the ground like a musical Hindenburg, leaving Knott over $100,000 in debt in an industry where artists never go gold, let alone aluminum. I could tell you about Knott’s band The Aunt Bettys, who signed to Elektra’s East West division with Seymour Stein’s personal endorsement in 1996, but who were dismissed when Stein left the label. I could tell you about Knott’s paintings, or the time he played a show at the church my dad pastors in Rolla, Missouri.

But instead, I will simply urge you to listen to the song below. There is no official video. Even if there was one, would MTV have played it? Probably not. On a related note, Synconation provides an excellent overview of The Grape Prophet here, classifying it as one of “The Best Albums You’ve Never Heard”.

(continues overleaf)

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