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The Amazing Jeckel Brothers is the 5th Jokers Card album released by one of my personal favourite bands, The Insane Clown Posse. When this album was released on May 25th 1999 I actually went to the record store before it had opened (only by about 10 minutes but still) to wait to buy this. Once I had it I scurried in an almost panic of excitement all the way home to sit and listen to this album over and over. To this day there is only one other album that has caused this kind of excitement for me on release which gives the album a special place in my heart, also due to the time period in my life this came out in (I was 18 years old) and some of the experiences I had that year.
After releasing their first platinum album, The Great Milenko, ICP had become know all across America (and other parts of the world) but were still viewed by a larger audience as some sort of joke. ICP wanted to take their music and promotion a step further to try dispel this chain of thought and started to explore the avenues open to them.
They decided if they could get a few well known artists on their tracks maybe they could increase their fans. From the beginning Violent J and Shaggy 2Dope had their hearts set on working with rap legends Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, and Wu-Tang member Old Dirty Bastard. They set Alexi Abiss the group's manager to get the deal done. After contacting all threes management they were given prices, $40,000 for Snoop, $30,000 for ODB, and $10,000 for Ice-T. ICP quickly got the reels sorted, recorded and sent to the respective artists.
The band hired The Nasty Little Man publicity team (who's clients included the Beastie Boys and Radiohead) to help their image and were quickly booked for a front cover shoot for music mag Alternative Press, and a national tour which included Biohazard, Krayzie Bone, Twiztid and Coal Chamber supporting them.
The group gained employment with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE). At first only performing on a episode of Monday Night Raw, they were asked to come back to accompanying a group of wrestlers called the oddities, so they asked for the chance to wrestle. Vince McMahon liked the idea and allowed them to wrestle on the agreement they would do it for free but WWF would air commercials for TAJB album occasionally (as the airtime was far more valuable than the amounts they could earn for wrestling). They would feature on Pay Per View and feud with The Headbangers.
The Controversy and Problems
The finished reels from Ice-T, Snoop, and ODB were back with the ICP, but upon listening there were a few problems. Snoops track was fine, but Ice-T's just didn't fit into the albums style and was held back for a future release (Psychopathics From Outer Space vol 1). This was nothing compared to what came back from ODB.
Ol Dirty Bastard (RIP) was know for many things, not least of all his alcoholism and drug addictions, and when ICP heard what he had recorded on their record it was clear he wasn't having a good day when he did this track. The original song was ruined with what J described as in his autobiography as ODB shouting 'B*tches' over everyone's raps and occasionally putting a few lines together. ICP had spent $30,000 for a drunk man's rants on their record. After scrapping the original concept (and their own original lyrics) for the song they changed the name to 'B*tches', cut together ODB's raps and actually produced a decent song from it all.
ICP had been working as wrestlers for 3 months during which their agreement with WWE for a advert to be shown had still not been upheld. Too make matters worse the cliques in the wrestlers locker room's did not like these musicians coming in and getting television time and usually spent the time really beating them up in the ring. Their is a famous incident in which ICP were fighting a tag-team match against the Headbangers. Both members of ICP were lying on their backs whilst being punched by the HB, the next part required ICP to flip them and get on top and start punching but the HB refused to budge. ICP then actually used their own strength to flip them and started fighting for their lives deciding they would no-longer take it. The feud was deemed to much of a risk and was ended. ICP continued to wrestle for nothing and WWF continued not to show their commercials until on the advice of their manager they decided to screw the company who was breaching their agreement.
On a episode of Monday Night Raw (shown live in America) ICP told Vince McMahon to air the commercial that night during the first part of the show and before they wrestled. When the advert break came and went without it again being shown and it was time for ICP to wrestle they refused and quit. As you can imagine McMahon didn't like this and pleaded with them to go out but they refused. Even though they continue to wrestle to this day they will never again be allowed to wrestle for Vince McMahon.
ICP's first Alternative Press cover shoot and feature was coming up. When they got there a member of their new publicity team, Nasty Little Man, came and asked them to remove a lyric from their song 'F**K the World' slating the Beastie Boys, clients and personal friends of the representative. ICP refused as they had vowed never again to change their lyrics after the Disney scandal (covered in my Great Milenko Review), and fired NLM on the spot.
On May 25th 1999 the album was released worldwide, hit #4 in the billboard charts in the first week (right behind the backstreet boys), and eventually went platinum. The album is often referred to as ICP's first concept album about the 19 stages of hell, but anyone who knows anything about ICP will already know all their Joker Card's albums have themes which prevail all through the tracks, so this is hardly their first.
Track 1 - Intro
The intro feature a man going into a small crazy shop he's never seen before despite living in the town his whole life. The music is reminiscent of the start of a typical horror film when you have a bunch of teenage kids exploring somewhere they shouldn't be. The man buys a candle to 'witness the light of the Amazing Jeckel brothers'.
Pretty standard sort of ICP intro setting the scene nicely for the album to come.
I don't rate intros
Track 2 - Jake Jeckel
As per usual the second track n the album isn't a proper track, it's used to describe Jake Jeckels status and function in the Dark Carnival and the message he brings. Unlike past 2nd track offerings 'Jake Jeckel' isn't so much of a extension of the intro as more information on the idea/concept of the album and the message it brings.
Track 3 - Bring It On
A fairly random fast paced mix of carnival sounding music is used here, with some pretty clever raps by both members. Most ICP albums have a track like this - fun, bouncy and a middle finger to all who aren't down with the clown. It's a good start to the album but there is better on here.
Track 4 - I Want My Sh*t
With a smooth rap beats for the verses and heavy guitar riffs for the chorus, this track is one of my favourites and was amazing both times I saw ICP in concert, it has a energy about the track that just makes you want to jump about during the chorus. Violent J takes us on a hilarious story of how he cant die, has been alive for centuries trying to get various things -
'a rusty ax, to learn voodoo, a fat girl named Bridget, and a little sip of Faygo too...I said Faygo, f**k Mountain Dew'
Great track 9/10
Track 5 - Bitches feat Ol' Dirty Bastard
The infamous track ICP paid so much money for is an offensive triumph, with J, 2Dope, and ODB all having individual raps about their *ahem* view on certain types of women. The beats are bouncy, like a regular rap beat with the ICP twist. ODB loved the track so much upon hearing the finished version he put it on 'the trials and tribulations of Russell Jones' album. The song also features a pretty funny prank call (by one of the Jerky Boys) to ICP's management, once the songs finished.
Choice (Offensive) line-
'Girl you knew what I wanted all the while, My D**K in your vertical smile' - Shaggy 2Dope
One of my personal favourites 10/10
Track 6 - Terrible
Guitar heavy track, used to put ICP's brand of message across. Complaining about things from the media, protestors, the homeless and more. ICP put some good points across here which many people will over look due to their image. It a song that often when I listen too makes me really think about the state of our world these days, whch is pretty much what ICP are trying to accomplish here.
Choice line's -
'What about that one nobody guy that they found?
Dead in the grass with his, d*ck in his ass
Plus there was more but you won't recall
Because Michael Jackson squeezed up on some little kids b*lls' - Violent J
'LOOOORRDY-lord have we got a protest, man,
Some rock-and-roll ninja bit the head off a bat,
Was watching his concert, and channelled to hell,
'Cuz he's so f*cking TEERRRIBLE,
Meanwhile his records sell double and triple,
'Cuz of you crying about him rubbing his nipple,
Religious? Sh*t, you helped them bang,
Instead of helping them poor people eating out of them garbage cans,
When you're done with them b*tch, come protest me,
Shit, m*therf**ker I could use some money' - Shaggy 2Dope
Track 7 - I Stab People
Very short, but very funny track, about Violent J stabbing lots of people over a minimal beat. You have to laugh at this. The track works very well and is in keeping with the style of the album and also spawned the follow up 'Still Stabbin' from the Bizaar album in 2000. The chorus is also decent with Violent J pretty much singing it.
Track 8 - Another Love Song
ICP's version of a love song rapped over Beck's 'Jackass' beat (apparently, although I've never heard it), talking about murdering cheating girlfriends. The beat is slow and soft as you'd expect from a love song, with ICP's wicked twist of humour over the top. Not my favourite but some people love this one and it was even released as a single with a music video.
music video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7Hc3gNqWzM
Track 9 - Everybody Rize
A song basically about ICP brushing aside anyone who hates them and get in their way. A pretty standard ICP song that has some clever lyrics and features part of the music to House of Pain's 'Jump' in it, although you'd struggle to notice. There is also some banjo like plucking and Van Halen-esque guitar squeals in this track. They also take a shot at KISS for stealing their image for their 'psycho circus' (line below)
Choice line -
'F*ck Gene Simmons, You make me sick, Psycho Circus, You stole my shit, spit your blood out and do your dance, but I'm gonna kick that ass through your leather pants' - Violent J
Track 10 - Play With Me
Think of Toy Story. Now think of Toy Story as a horror film where Woodey wants to murder Andy and you have ICP's premise for this track. Violent J is the forgotten toy in the toy box under the bed, waiting for the day he will be taken out again and plotting revenge on his owner for forgetting about him. The beats are fast paced and laced with synth and electronic organ sounds. No message here just a good old fashioned ICP horror story track.
Track 11 - Jack Jeckel
This track describes Jack Jeckels function in the Dark Carnival and his importance as opposed to Jake. Same beats as track 2, this is a track only really for Juggalo's who follow the Joker's Card theme and message.
Track 12 - F*ck the World
My favourite track on the album (just) and one of the funniest songs I've heard. Rapped over a very traditional sounding rap beat, this track is a triumph for ICP producer (and unofficial 3rd member of the group) Mike E. Clark with the beats sounding some of the most polished in all of ICP's musical history. The song proves ICP are neither racist or sexist, they hate everybody equally and J uses this track well to tell the world to go f*ck itself (and himself and band mate 2Dope). This track actually managed to get on the radio (super heavily edited obviously). It also features the most f-words in one song ever, and if you where wondering about the f count....
'Don't bother trying to analyse these rhymes, in this song I say f*ck 93 times!' - Violent J
Track 13 - The Shaggy Show (w/Snoop Dogg)
The Shaggy Show is a ICP song thats sort of like a Chatshow, with Shaggz as the host. Anyone who likes ICP (or have read my other reviews) will know ICP have a couple of previous tracks impersonating TV shows (The Jokers Wild - evil version of game show by the same name, The Neden Game - Hilarious version of Blind Date). The music sounds like a game show (big surprise huh), and feature adverts during the breaks between guests. The first verse is Shaggy rapping an introduction to the show, the second verse is Violent J and Shaggy rapping back and forth as if 2Dope is asking chat show questions. The last verse is Snoop Dogg featuring as a guest on the show. I was surprised how well Snoop's verse and style fit with the totally different ICP, I would count this as one of Snoops better 'featuring on' type tracks outside of any of Dr Dre's music. Between each verse is comedic adverts, all worth a listen.
Choice Lines (the snoop verse follows the 2Dope one) -
[Shaggy 2 Dope]
Thanks fellas! Alright yo, we're back
My next guest pioneered the sound in rap
He's come a long way from the LBC
Please welcome Snoop D-O-double G!
Look up in the sky, it's a bird it's a plane
It's the big dog y'all, f**kin with the Insane
Clowns, get down ni**a, I represent the town
Ay yo Violent J let's go half on this pound
I stay gangsta like Vaughn, I dropped a bomb
They call me Snoop Dogg and I can raise your arm
So any MC that disagree with me
Step up and watch your muthaf**kin ass meet defeat
Track 14 - Mad Professor
Mad Professor starts with a knock on a door, J answers to speak to someone about selling his couch, then knocks him out (funnier than it sounds). The premise of the song is like the Frankenstein story, with J playing the part of the creator of the monster, while we learn at the end of the song the monster is Shaggy 2Dope. You need to hear this to appreciate the songs sick humour as J describes the different creatures he has created until the final part where 2Dope is brought to life. With several spoken interludes in the track between verses which consist of people being lured to J's home where he attempts to kill them to harvest their body parts. The beats are dark (in keeping with the subject matter), wouldn't be out of place in a real horror film, and mainly consist of more synth and organ work. A great track with a fantastic subject, this truly is one of ICP's funniest songs.
Choice lines -
'I used some many body parts it was crazy, I killed a whole bunch of muther f*cker like what 80.
They all chipped in on my special friend, Everything helps even if you got a finger to lend come on'
(J) - Get him set get 'im ready its all most time, Paint his ugly ass face up almost like mine,
I see him twitching i'm on a roll, He can help me tell the whole world about the carnival,
Turn the hertz all the way up for this shit, And just wait for that lightning bolt to hit
Did it work you make the call? Shaggy?
(Shaggy) - What up y'all?
Track 15 - Assassins
Originally a Geto Boys (one of ICP's early influences) track, the lyrics have been modified slightly to reflect the clowns message. The chorus are guitar heavy and a assault on the ear drums (in a good way), while the verses kick back to a slightly heavier version of the original songs music. No prizes for guessing the subject matter as ICP go round murdering, but the song does have several sociological observations that work well e.g.
'My father was a priest, cold-blooded, he's dead
Hypocrite, he was a bigot so I cut off his head
Poured on the holy water, "Bless the dead" is what I said
And heard the demon screaming as his body bled'
'Then she rolled over and gave me a kiss, and said
"So when am I getting paid?" WHAT BITCH?!?!
First I tried to choke her, she went for the door,
And said, 'Welcome to the disease there's no cure for'
The track also ends with the 2nd prank call by the Jerky boys on the album, funny stuff.
Track 16 - Echo Side (w/Twiztid)
Build as the first ever Dark Lotus Track (ICP and Twiztid) Echo Side is a softer song compared to much of the album, basically rapping about a ICP style purgatory. The picture of the Echo Side is painted as a grim dark place full of evil and bad things, while the subject of the song is searching for the gates of heaven, whilst finding the gates to hell instead. Its a great track which was released as a single in a plain black box, I do really like it and it works well so close to the end of the album and with the overall theme of TAJB. Twiztid don't really do much except speak on the intro.
Many of ICP's songs feature lyrics played backwards that often have a hidden message, the one from Echo Side (when played backwards) says -
'F*ck the devil! F*ck That Sh*t!
We Believe in life, legit
If you diggin what we say
Why you throw your soul away?'
Track 17 - Nothing's Left
Every so often ICP surprise you with a deep meaningful track that deviates away from their normal style. The Great Milenko has 'Pass Me By', Riddle Box had 'I'm Coming Home', and now TAJB has 'Nothing's Left'. The song features Violent J pretty much singing all the way through about the day when the world end's and people are picked for heaven or hell. He may be no Marvin Gaye when it comes to a melody, but it somehow comes off very, very well. It may seem weird that they get a little serious, but it's decent and thought provoking. Due to their (almost unique) style ICP still have territory that remains untapped, and that is what makes them so appealing to me. This track also feature backwards speaking, but once it is reversed it tells us -
'Yeah, if you flip this message, cause you think theres some secret message, there aint sh*t!!'
The Album come in a red plastic box, with 2 different covers available, one of Jake and one of Jack Jeckel, both of whom have one of the ICP's makeup incorporated into their faces, which are yellow and red. There are several pictures of ICP with claw like hands and what appears to be crazy looking skin inside, plus neither have their dreadlocks anymore (we've covered why J doesn't).
The messages in the cover reads as -
His evil influence flows from the city streets like red molten ooze, filling every alley and gutter. There are those who are burnt by it, like the charred remains of a napalm strike. He moves in silence, yet with his heat comes ear-shattering screams as the masses are scorched in his choking smoke of corruption. His fire consumes like a lethal injection flowing through the veins of a dying convict. Hosts of small red ants crawl in the wake of his presence, biting and stinging flesh. His holocaust fills the woods of hope and prosperity like a wave of hungry piranhas on a newborn lamb. He goes by many names, but for now let it be spoken like the force of a fireball bursting into a crowd. He's Jack, pure and simple... Jack Jeckel.
His glow of compassion kindles the heart, like a campfire on a cold winter's eve. His embers burn eternally, spreading the flame of mercy like a warm blanket over the shoulders of a vagabond. His kindness is fueled by sympathy for human suffering, but his inferno of righteous cause, incinerates creatures of sin to ash. The torch of his salvation guides wanderers in the dark abyss to freedom. Its flaring sparks float on the winds of change, like soaring birds recently freed from a dreary cage. Laughter explodes forth from the essence of his being, radiating the land with childish joy. He has many names, but for now let it be spoken like melodic music drifting through the air. He's Jake, true indeed... Jake Jeckel.
The Jeckel Brothers Message
Emerging from the Dark Carnival like phantom smoke drifting into the minds of men, they are the Amazing Jeckel Brothers. A chaotic duo of juggling masters, Jack "the sinister" and Jake "the just" juggle the sins of mortal men. The price of admission to their show is a mere human soul. When death creeps around and life decays, the departed spirit will begin its journey. A vision of a candle will begin to form like a distant dream with billowing smoke rising from its eternal flame. In this thick haze the deceased will begin to see an image of Jake and Jack Jeckel juggling red balls between themselves. Each ball soaked in fresh blood and pulsating like an erratic living heart. For every sin committed in a mortal's life another ball is added to their unearthly performance and the harder it becomes. The deceased will witness sinister Jack throwing Jake curves in a vile attempt to see a ball drop. For if they should fumble in their act, a pit of infinite evil shall open beneath the feet of the viewer and cast the soul into an eternity of pain and suffering. Success on the other hand, opens the gates of Shangri-La and grants one ascension into pure enlightenment and peace. Jack and Jake Jeckel rest in all of us for they are the very fabric of our being conscience and soul. There is no escape from their Juggling act because there is no way to escape from ourselves. Only in death will we realize this as we twist and spin to the other side...
As always there is the 'thanks to' section of the booklet and the album is 'dedicated to the butterfly' as all ICP albums are.
Overall a triumph of a album from the wicked clowns. The era of the 5th Jokers Card was alive and kicking and would do so for a couple more years before the mythical 6th Jokers Card would be released. This is one of my all time favourit albums and I would recommend iot for anyone down with the clown, who enjoys a bit crazy hip-hop, or for someone who just likes music that gives the middle finger to the establishment. Plus it comes in at just over 70 minutes long so you are getting a decent sized album. Not for the easily offended though!
10/10 for the album for me.
If you made it this far a big thanks for reading and if you enjoyed it make sure you check out my other ICP reviews for The Great Milenko and The Riddle Box.
F**k the world live at Woodstock '99 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCH_drbSA7k
Chicken Huntin live at Woodstock '99 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qajJdCKHx8
Can be bought for £4.98 from - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amazing-Jeckel-Brothers-Insane-Clown/dp/B00000J2SK
Well, well, well, what a shame, nobody else has an opinion on this most amazin' album. The Insane Clown Posse (or Inner City Posse as they used to be known), are one awsome band. This, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers, is there finest album. If you're an Eminem fan (sad), then read no further as what i have to say is purely for the clowns and not that sorry little maggot. The Jeckel's are Shaggy 2 Dope & Violent J, they produced the Amazing Jeckel Bros. as the fourth jokers card, (6 in all). The album opens with: Intro & Jake Jeckel, ok, it starts off a little strange, but what the hell, this is ICP we're talking about not slim an*s, it booms along quite nicely as a tune with some carnival music playing as an undertone to the rapping and the basslines. Bring it on, The clowns appear to lose the plot straight away with this one, with it's strange dis-chords and unmelodic melodies, however this track actually grows on the listener after a while & ultimately becomes as important as the rest of the album. I want my sh*t, now we're talking, This tune seriously rocks, it tells the story of how the Juggalos 1st appeared and how they are indestructable, why ? Coz they aint gonna die 'til they get there sh*t. The chorus in the tune kicks ass, with big guitars and a wicked drum line, meanwhile the boys are laughing profoundly at just about anything and everything from being crushed on a train track, to having your head ripped off by a lamp post whilst hanging out of a speeding car. B*tches, This track features well known Wu Tang member the ODB, it's the clowns version of a love song, highly amusing to say the least. Rather offensive to females this one, but then the clown don't descriminate, they are offensive to everyone with equal gusto. Terrible, Hmmmmmmmm? think this one is about murder and other unpleasant stuff, the clown make it sound awesome as usual, by now the listener
is engrossed in the album and is almost instantly an ICP fan (in my experience), and hence a follwer of the dark carnival. I stab people, hilarious is the only thing that springs to mind, stabbing everybody from the mail man to the manager the clown are crying out "Can anybody help me?", clearly, they can't. Another love song, sorry girls it's another hate song really, they could buy you anything and treat you like a godess, but on second thoughts they'd rather kill you. Everybody Rize, The clown kick back with another hard hip-hop anthem with dark metal overtones and a message telling one and all to make a stand and join the carnival. Jack Jeckel, short and sweet, more of an intro to the next tune. F*ck the world, if u've never heard and are easily offended, then this probably not for you as the word f*ck is used a grand total of 93 times. Basically the boys slate everyone and everything no prejudices here then ! Again this tune rocks, it is a hip hop favour with a liberal sprinkling of metal on a phat bass (possibly?). The Shaggy Show, Featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg, I've listened to a lot of music in my 28 years here on earth, but i've never heard a tune with adverts in before, truly hilarious, done in a carnival atmosphere with strange melodies and a thumping bass line. Another master class in rapping, which the clown do so much better than that Marshall Mathers III bloke. Mad Proffesor, this ones about me folks, spending all his free time in a science lab. Violent Jay tries to build a special friend, using body parts from people who have been lured to the house by an advert for a couch. "You want my couch? You can't have my couch! What the f*ck you thinkin'?". 10/10 my favorite track on the album staying true to the disturbing and individual style of ICP. Assassins, see if you can guess what this ones about ? Echoside, The ICP chi
ll a little with echoside, i don't know how they do it, but even the laid back tunes sound amazing ! Nothings left, another mellow track to finish the album, which should by now have any hip hop/rap/metal fan well and truly hooked ! It's only my op, but the clowns are in a class all of there own, and i'm gonna tell the world about the carnival, why ? coz i'm a juggalo, thats why ! I'll be posting reviews on Great Milenko & Bizzare really soon, so watch out for 'em, or go and review the new slim an*s album instead ! The disturbed one !
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro (Insane Clown Posse/The Amazing Jeckel Brothers)
2 Jake Jeckel
3 Bring It On
4 I Want My Shit
5 Bitches - Insane Clown Posse, Russell T. "Old Dirty Bastard" Jones
7 I Stab People
8 Another Love Song
9 Everybody Rize
10 Play With Me
11 Jack Jeckel
12 Fuck The World
13 The Shaggy Show
14 Mad Professor
16 Echo Side
17 Nothing Left