Red Dirt Report

"How I Won the War" by The Grip Weed

How I Won the War is the new album from The Grip Weeds

"How I Won The War" is the new album from The Grip Weeds

Andrew W. Griffin | November 30, 2015
Category: Rusty's Music


ALBUM REVIEW: The Grip Weeds – How I Won the War (Jem Recordings) 2015

One album that has been getting plenty of spins here in the offices of Red Dirt Report is the new one from the New Jersey retro-rock quartet The Grip Weeds – How I Won the War.

Does that title sound familiar? Well, Beatlemaniacs will likely recall that John Lennon starred in a 1966 film titled How I Won the War and his character’s name was Pvt. Virgil Gripweed. In fact, a Lennon look-a-like graces the cover of the album and the same guy appears in the band’s new “Life Saver” video.

In fact, “Life Saver” is a pretty punchy number where the line “he’s your one life saver” sounding like “he’s your one light saber.” Maybe I’m just too anxious about the next Star Wars installment.

But seriously, this album and this band are absolutely great. For years they – like fellow Garden Staters the Smithereens – have had a deep appreciation for mid-1960’s garage-n-power pop with a distinctive jingle-jangle that makes you want to dance.

Led by drummer/singer Kurt Reil, and backed by guitarists and multi-instrumentalists (including electric sitar!) Kristen Pinell and Rick Reil and bassist Dave DeSantis.

The Kurt Reil-penned “Force of Nature” is truly some psych-hippie rock that sounds as if it was recorded sometime during the Summer of Love. But don't think it means it's a weak song. It's not. It's got power behind it. This is one I keep coming back to.

Note the song “Rainbow Quartz.” Its pure pop bliss, with that addition of electric sitar. And speaking of which, the Grip Weeds offer up a muscular/spiritual take on George Harrison’s 1968 Beatles song “The Inner Light,” which was the B-side to “Lady Madonna.” The song is based on the Tao Te Ching and came out of the era when the Fab Four were deep into Transcendental Meditation and the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

As for the Weeds, they have a psychedelic blast on this one and show their appreciation of this truly amazing Harrison original.

There are a few instrumentals here and a lot of originality, while paying musical homage to rock n' roll's best period. Listen to "Heaven and Earth" and be reminded of a time when baroque and rock went together.

All in all, How I Won the War is a great album from The Grip Weeds. Let's hope they roll through Oklahoma City for a live gig one of these days.