Friday, March 15, 2019

Modern Lovers Song Reviews / Saturday Night Club Bohemia Louder Than Milk (10 pm) / Poor Yorick (9 pm) Brian Campbell (8:30 pm)

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Saturday March 16, 2019

Saturday @ Club Bohemia March 16, 2019 Brian Campbell (Motel Black,) Poor Yorick, Louder Than Milk - This page Sponsored by Randolph Music's Record Expo March 31

March 16 
8:30 - Brian Campbell (Motel Black)

9:00 - Poor Yorick
10:00 - Louder Than Milk

We have an extraordinary Jonathan Richman interview in Varulven Magazine that we are going to publish here. Stay tuned.

1)Astral Plane
2)Dignified and Old
3)Egyptian Reggae
5)Ice Cream Man
6)She Cracked


Jonathan Richman

by Joe Viglione
Quasi-mystical Jonathan is what we get on "Astral Plane", a brilliant compostion of love in the world in-between - "If you won't sleep with me, I'll still be with you, I'm gonna meet you on the astral plane". And how many actually do visit the people who get almost close to us during everyday life, achieving relationship goals in that realm between the "real world" and sleep? Smart underground poetry from Jonathan Richman at his most poignant, lyrics that glide away from the mainstream but are not too obscure for the intuitive underground rock fan. The Modern Lovers kick in after the song begins with Jo Jo's lonely announcement "Tonight I'm all alone in my room/I'll go insane" and in less than three minutes he projects his persona into your speakers to declare that his everpresent punk/blues can evaporate with a journey plucked out of Sri Paul Twitchell's Eckankar teachings. Richman isn't doing his spiritual excercises, though, he's traveling through the Twilight Zone with the Modern Lovers bashing out their own statement in a world separate from his imaginary lover. The song remains surprisingly consistent in attitude on the latter Kim Fowley demos (not the earlier ones Fowley did with engineer Dinky Dawson ) as on the more popular Warners tapes which have the aura of John Cale's finesse. The band resembles The Velvet Underground more than Jonathan sounding like Lou Reed. He comes off like a Bostonian fronting that venerable group, Jerry Harrison copping the riffs of his producer, David Robinson doing his best Moe Tucker while Richman indulges in his wonderfully brash dementia. The record is so fantastic you actually want to break it over the singer's head for abandoning this jangly guitar confronting keyboard sound, a style that is fresh and exciting years after it was tracked and never duplicated, even by its creator. "Astral Plane" is one of the greatest moments of pop merging with punk, Richman's eccentricities leading many fans to the conclusion that the singer didn't even get his wish in the dreamworld, and that, indeed, it was what drove him allegedly insane.
Dignified and Old

Song Reviewby Joe VIglione
Released on the expanded CD of The Modern Lovers classic self-titled debut along with another rarity, "I'm Straight", this is the same theme Paul McCartney brought the world on Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band singing "When I'm Sixty Four", though Sir Paul had the commitment in hand while Sir Jonathan is wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'. "My telephone doesn't ring/will she never call me/blinding miserable sadness" It is the Richman that the original fans know and love, taking charge with The Modern Lovers accentuating his story telling and exposed emotions. A live version appears on Rounder Records compilation of early seventies tracks, Precise Modern Lovers Order, which has more of a disonant jangle - a hollow guitar sound behind JR's original poetry. Its consistent with his obsessive early mission for companionship, told always with a beckoning wide-eyed hope for a relationship to blossom and grow. The relationship here, however, seems to be like The Turtles unrequited quest in "Happy Together", a notion that's foggy and fading fast. The Microwave Orphans cover the tune on the If I Were A Richman tribute cd with a harder edge, a much harder punkier edge, and give further proof that even the material Jonathan may have initially cast aside, tunes not included in the first go round of repertoire that made up the debut disc, was very insightful, clever, and the reason he developed such a strong following of admirers in the first place. It's just another reason the original Modern Lovers should reunite for a tour to bring these gems back to life.


Composed By

Jonathan Richman
Song Reviewby Joe Viglione
Taking a cue from the first Boston band in history to get a Top 40 hit, 50's/60's legends The G. Clefs with their reggae flavored Egyptian dance tune "Zoom Gali Gali", Jonathan Richman delivers superb quasi-flamenco guitar on this gypsy rant mixed with hoofbeats from the old west. "Egyptian Reggae" owes more to other influences than the music from the islands being performed under the pyramids that its title evokes, but its simple shuffle and Spanish flavors smartly speak to Richman's followers on a level higher than his musical practical jokes.

"Egyptian Reggae" is a triumph, a left field underground hit which needs no lyrics or vocals to get the message across. It is one of the best post-rock and roll Modern Lovers concoctions by this eccentric genius. Created with what Richman might consider the fourth or fifth version of The Modern Lovers

(though on record it might be the second on the verge of being the third, it gets confusing ) this instrumental softly rocks interrupted by a wonderful gong sound. On live albums as well as the Andy Paley produced 1996 Surrender To Jonathan disc ( Paley was on drums in the third, mid-70's version of The Modern Lovers which performed live at the Unicorn Coffeehouse in Boston ) its first appearance on record was with Jonathan Richman and future Robin Lane & The Chartbusters Leroy Radcliffe playing guitar, D. Sharpe on drums and percussion with

Greg 'Curly' Keranen on bass. Backed with "Roller Coaster By The Sea" on one 45 RPM and "Ice Cream Man" on another, the song is also credited to an Earl Johnson as co-author on some of the releases. The two minute and thirty-four second excursion has also been put on singles with "Morning Of Our Lives" and "Roadrunner" as different flips. What is "Egyptian Reggae" anyway? Do Egyptians play the music found in the Caribbean? Only Jonathan knows for sure. The Ready, Steady, Go website notes that this was " a major European hit" and, thankfully for the fans, it was a departure from unique inventions like "Dodge Veg-O-Matic" which, being committed to record, put Jonathan at risk of being committed. To an institution.

"Egyptian Reggae" has some marvelous riffing and musical eloquence missing in the folk/rock of the post-amplifiers Modern Lovers. It is a new permutation of folk/rock, "Astral Plane" all grown up. Sure, Jonathan Richman still has his tongue firmly in cheek, a serious Alfred E. Newman on The Gong Show proving to the world that he can dig deep into his soul and come up with something clever and listenable. Then "I'm A Little Airplane" comes on and true fans start smashing things.

Hospital The Modern Lovers

Composed By Jonathan Richman

Jonathan Richman
Song Reviewby Joe Viglione
With Jerry Harrison's dirge-like keyboards this is the underground "Whiter Shade Of Pale", a solemn slowed down sentiment originated by Lou Reed in "Pale Blue Eyes" off of The Velvet Underground's first post- John Cale. This track appears on the Cale produced eponymous Modern Lovers album, though he's not credited as the director of this particular performance. It was tracked at Intermedia Sound on Newbury Street in Boston where Moulty & The Barbarians recorded 70's tunes, where Aerosmith's "Dream On" was recorded, and where another Jonathan, Jonathan Edwards, created his Top 5 1971 hit, "Sunshine". That the eventual drummer for The Cars, David Robinson, is on this lament, and that his future band would go on to buy this fancy studio years later is a touch of irony. It's also an indicator that had The Modern Lovers kept going in this direction, they could've been the landlords of the place where this mood piece came into the world.

Jonathan talks about his own eyes as well as the woman he adores here, and the power that resides the eyes of that girl who lives in modern apartments. He's a real stalker in this one, walking down her street with tears in his eyes. The dark romance is not something relegated to just his songs, urban legend has it Jonathan slept all night on the lawn in the rain outside the window of his future wife while she was married to (and sleeping with) someone else. Not to make this review read like The National Enquirer, it is important to note that this creative artist walked the line between the astral world and reality, truly involved in the romances he was writing and singing about.

"Hospital" is a simply great melody from Jonathan Richman, melodies being one of the man's true strengths. It is the organ that dominates this dramatic soap opera of a young guy going "to bakeries, all day long now, there's a lack of sweetness in my life" - descending into some twisted self-tortured mental abuse "I can't stand you", pathos in dichotomy, emotions splitting like atoms over the ominous and slow mood set up by The Modern Lovers. Talking Heads keyboard player Jerry Harrison donated this tape to the album from his archives, and its position on the compilation release that became that landmark disc is essential. The tone sets it apart from the wild fury of many of the other songs it is included with, Robinson's powerful drums picking up the tempo in a way that possibly influenced The Talking Heads, and many others. The song is simple, obtaining its power in the attitude and emotions. You can't help but find this dark essay intriguing, but worry that because it is so well suited to a Psycho film that if a judge and jury got to hear it performed in a courtroom, the singer certainly would have found himself held for observation. This isn't domestic violence, nor is it verbal abuse, it is the strange thoughts of a man who "can't stand what you do, but I'm in love with your eyes." As James Taylor wrote in "Fire And Rain" about his friend at McLeans hospital dying just a couple of years before this episode, one has to wonder what put the subject matter into the "Hospital" in the first place? He knows where she lives. He's scared once or twice, and he's on her street late at night. You do the math. It's where she got her eyes, and he can't stand what she does because it makes him think about himself. Ok. Totally brilliant, malevolent and you just picture poor Jerry Harrison needing therapy going from this gig to "Psycho Killer" in quick succession. Those who think Lou Reed's "Sister Ray" was the most twisted thing you've ever heard give this another spin.

Song Reviewby Joe Viglione
Sounding like a song by Fred Rogers of TV's Mr. Rogers fame, "Ice Cream Man" is Jonathan Richman telling the record industry where to go, his version of Metal Machine Music. The only problem is, where Richman's hero, Lou Reed, moved on from that moment in his career, Jonathan extended this trip to Neverland for decades. The melodic genius appropriately found one photo of himself upside down and that same picture rightside up in The Boston Phoenix weekly magazine, and for some, speculating on his motives became part of the fun. But for those blown away by the rugged innocence of songs like "Roadrunner" and "Astral Plane", the departure from Velvet Underground influenced fury mixed with beat poetry to nursery rhymes like "My Little Kookenhaken" and this ditty frustrated fans no end. A personality with an ongoing need to do his music on his terms, that he has been able to survive the changes in the music industry (again, as does his mentor, Lou Reed ) is a testament not to this song of devotion to the dude who brings dessert to the neighborhood but to Jonathan Richman's absolute brilliance in being able to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. Listen to H.A.R.M. do their cover of this title on the If I Were A Richman tribute cd and see the power of an artist who can influence others to engage in total silliness. It's a power trip of immense proportions, done with amazing success, but the artist failing to see that timing is everything and - at a certain point - the Ice Cream Man has to pack up and go home at the end of the evening. Sitting in a living room with Richman in the mid-seventies jamming on guitars it was clear being up close and personal how very bright, talented, and creative an individual he is. The simple guitar strums of "Ice Cream Man" and the forcing of great musicians to provide background vocals of "ding ding" is, well, humiliating and a waste of the great gifts God bestowed on all involved. "Do you like the ice cream man?" Richman asks on a live version to thunderous applause before going back into the chorus. The raw passion of the perverted "ding dong" in The Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" is warped here to sound like some purified born-again Christian homogenized fluff. One cannot dissect this composition as The Jefferson Starship's "Miracles" and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" demand study and appreciation. Jonathan Richman is clearly capable of composing a song as breathtaking and important as "Miracles" but has opted instead to beating his audience over the head with the same campfire-style approach found on "Ice Cream Man" and replicated in "Back In Your Life". "Ice Cream Man" is the creation of a Pablo Picasso on a mission to spray paint graffiti all over the important gems that brought him an audience in the first place. Important work that will stand the test of time is tested like nature's mosquito landing ker plunk in the ice cream cone delivered by the ice cream man. "Fly Into The Mystery" was a work of brilliance, detoured by a fly in the ointment.

"Ice Cream Man" is the single greatest argument for Jonathan to phone up Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks, David Robinson and Jon Felice and re-create the sound that made his work legend. For his penance for punishing his faithful and devoted fans, present company included, extended twenty minute versions of each song from the first Modern Lovers album at full volume are in order.

She Cracked Jonathan Richman

Song Reviewby Joe Viglione
One of the six John Cale produced "demos" from the combination of tapes which are the first Modern Lovers album, "She Cracked" is the stuff Velvet Underground fans' dreams are made of. It is Jonathan Richman mutating the as-yet unreleased Velvets tune, "Foggy Notion", merging it with a bit of Lou Reed's "Sister Ray" vocal style (these vocals louder and easier to understand than Lou's) while bringing the tempo up and adding lyrics that make sense probably only to the singer. He sings these words which tumble forth with such authority that one gets the idea it empowered him to venture forth into the world of Ice Cream Men and nursery rhymes, an obsession which frustrated the faithful to no end.

Richman calls himself "almost as good as Dick Tracy" in chronichling a timeline for this music in his liner notes to Bomp's The Original Modern Lovers, though it is the appreciative who take a song like this and evaluate it's expressive originality more than the time and place from which it emerged. Piecing together the sounds generated by the early Modern Lovers is more fun than listening to latter day groups who need computers to expand their already limited scope. If Jonathan's attitude imploded the group, it is that same attitude which makes these performances of "She Cracked" fun and endearing decades after their creation. The Kim Fowley Los Angeles tapes featuring this song (from the Fall of 1973) are a doorway to view that Velvet Underground influenced feel . Jonathan wanted the level of the "radio interference and dial-switching", as he called it, down in the mix. It works pretty cool on that particular tape while the Cale take on it has more of what FM radio could embrace in its rock and roll infancy. Years later the two productions of this interesting observation of what she did and what he won't do both stand the test of time. The Fowley supervised garage tapes an interesting blend of the Yule softer Velvet Underground group with the hard edged organ from the days when that band featured John Cale. "It's all horizontal" Richman calls out, and whether he likes it or not if The Velvet Underground was the rock messiah, this material was certainly the acts of the Apostle. As such, "She Cracked" is highly listenable and valuable to those who like trying to figure Jonathan out in a more traditional basement band setting.


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