Mark Everett (aka ‘E’) never seemed to stand still when it came to writing, recording and playing music.  His early stuff, brilliant as it often was, bordered occasionally on the whimsical and fey end of the musical spectrum, with highly personal lyrics from his own life experiences very much to the fore.

The fourth studio album, Souljacker, was a departure from the norm, almost nu-metal in nature, with the band beefed up by musicians whose rock credentials were impeccable, including John Parish, best known to UK audiences as a collaborator of PJ Harvey.  The lyrics moved away from the personal and into the realms of storytelling based on fictional characters.  The record company struggled with it, unable to issue anything as a single beyond the title track:-

mp3: Eels – Souljacker Part 1

With a riff that most run-of-the-mill rock bands would kill for, this 2001 single wouldn’t sound out of place on Kerrang TV.  I like the song, but it’s one that I find disturbing for the reason that Johnny and Sally, the two main protagonists, seem to be unhinged and abused trailer-park dwellers who have an incestuous relationship…. the ending isn’t spelled out, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to anticipate it will be gory and not for the faint-hearted.

Souljacker Part 1 reached #30 in the UK singles chart in September 2001.  The following month, the album was released, and it went in at #12 on its first week of release, an indication that Eels had a decent fanbase over here.  The fact it dropped out of the Top 75 within two weeks would indicate that the album didn’t appeal much beyond said fan base.

The single came out on 7″ picture disc and 2 x CDs.  Here’s the other tracks:-

mp3: Eels – I Write The B-Sides (7″ and CD1)
mp3: Eels – Can’t Help Falling In Love (CD1)
mp3: Eels – Jennifer Eccles (CD2)
mp3: Eels – My Beloved Monstrosity (CD2)

The middle two songs are cover versions (Elvis Presley and The Hollies) while the final track is a different take on one of Eels best-known compositions, thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack of the hit film, Shrek.



Some of you might argue that today’s offering wasn’t really the debut:-

mp3 : Eels – Novocaine For The Soul

This 1997 single, which went Top 10 in the UK, was the first to be released by Eels, and as such, I reckon it’s a legitimate call to have it in this series.

Mark Everett had been making music for around five years prior to this, writing and recording material under the moniker of E. Indeed there were two albums, the first of which in 1992, had spawned a couple of singles but it was only when Everett hooked up with drummer Butch Norton and bassist Tommy Walter did things really get moving, including a record deal with the newly established Dreamworks Records, a label whose founders were among the highest and mightiest of the entertainment industry – David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenburg and Steven Spielberg.

Novocaine For The Soul is an extraordinary and rather special pop single. It has the most downbeat, almost helpless sounding of lyrics which mention, among other things, living with the undead and being told by your mum that your birth was a mistake set against the most catchy and sing-a-long of tunes. It also has a very unusual and memorable promo video. It was also evidence that we had come a long way in a short period of time in respect of songs no longer being deemed as unsuitable for radio play – OK, the ‘f’ word was blanked out but it was still unusual to hear a lyric in which the protagonist was demanding he be injected with a drug so that his soul would be numbed.

In later years, as his career in the music industry developed, we got to learn a great deal more about Mark Everett, someone who in any walk of life would have to be regarded as a maverick or having a very unconventional view or approach, much of which could be explained by his upbringing as he so candidly wrote about in his incredibly readable memoir, Things The Grandchildren Should Know, which was published back in 2009.

The CD single came with three b-sides, one of which was also lifted from Beautiful Freak, the debut LP by Eels:-

mp3 : Eels – Guest List

The remaining two tracks consisted of an as-live recording of a track from the debut LP and a short but low-fi and straight-to the-point unreleased track (listen to the final two lines just after the 1:30 mark) :-

mp3 : Eels – My Beloved Monster (live from Tennessee)
mp3 : Eels – Fucker

The former would, in due course, become one of the bands best known and most loved compositions, thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack to the movie, Shrek, which itself was a product of a separate part of the Dreamworks stable.




Eels are a very unusual and distinctive band. They’re probably in loads of collections thanks to their inclusion on all sorts of compilation CDs that have accompanied film soundtracks, including including Scream 2, American Beauty, Road Trip, Holes, The Anniversary Party, Knocked Up, Yes Man, The End of Violence, Hellboy II, Hot Fuzz, The Big White, and the first three Shrek movies. I’d imagine that a lot of folk who were then attracted to buy more stuff by the band as a result of the soundtrack material would likely be baffled by what they picked up….it’s not always the easiest or most comfortable of listening.

They also once did a very unusual cover. This was the fabulous original:-

And here’s the equally fabulous cover in which the original is twisted and kicked around to produce something rather disturbing:-

mp3 : Eels – Get Ur Freak On