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Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers - Roadrunner The Beserkley Collection (1971-79, amazing proto punk wave freakish 'n' roll, double disc set)

Lest the Gods of Indie strike me down, I have a confession to make that could well ruin the few hip credentials in my possession.  But here goes nothing: 

Forgive me, oh Indie Father, for I have sinned. I am guilty of ignorance and bandwagon jumping.  I regret that until recently I have been sinful due to an ignorance of the works of Jonathan Richman and his band, the Modern Lovers. 

There I said it—but let me defend myself. Yes, Richman has been releasing records since the early 70s and is still releasing them today. Yes, his name is uttered amongst the musical cognoscenti in hushed tones. Yes, he helped to pioneer and promote the proto-punk sound along with the Velvet Underground and the Stooges. And yes, he’s also influenced more of today’s acts than the wacky-baccy. So why is that when I tell people I’ve been listening to the Modern Lovers that I’m met with blank looks? 

Maybe I am forgiven for my obliviousness. The sad truth is that Jonathan is the muso’s best kept secret,  the kind of guy who gets namedropped more often than played.  So if you’re shaking your head thinking “OMG! This guy doesn’t have a clue about the Modern Lovers WTF?!” then stop reading—for once this is not for you. Please go back to trying to impress people with your in-depth knowledge of Wackies Dub obscurities. 

We all have to start somewhere and Roadrunner Roadrunner, a 46 track retrospective of Richman’s 1970s output, is the perfect Alpha course to the church of the Modern Lovers. 

Richman’s influences are obvious from the outset: shambolic Velvets-style rock’n’roll fused with tinges of doo-wop and sweet melodies reminiscent of the Beach Boys.  These influences pale in significance however, when compared to the massive list of performers who took their cues from him. 

Anyone who ever dared to challenge the balls-out machismo of the atypical rock idol has Jonathan to look up to.Every lovable nerd from Stephen Malkmus to MC Paul Barman can thank the Modern Lovers for handing them their pass to the world of uncool. 

As for Emo? Pah! Richman practically invented the stuff. “This is your chance to make me feel awkward”, intones the jealous male dumpee on “I’m Straight”, but this isn’t the kind of cloying self-pity one would get from the likes of Death Cab and Co. 

Even through his beat-up nasal whine, one can tell Richman has tongue placed firmly in cheek,  winking wryly at his audience as if to say “yes, we all act like asses in times of love and hate”.  It’s this kind of honesty—Jonathan’s straight-up but witty sentiments—that make the Modern Lovers such an endearingly feel-great act. 

The playfulness and delivery on some of the more downbeat tracks such as “Hospital” and “Affection” propel them well away from the wallowing drudgery of any of your present-day indie wimpsters. 

In the past, bands like the Beach Boys would boast about the speed of their motors.  Jonathan had his own take on the “Little Deuce Coupe” mentality with his own clapped-out “Dodge Veg-O-Matic”—the story of one man’s love for a no-go junk-heap.  He turns the Beach Boys on their heads again on the California Girls-y “New England” in which he compares Maine with the magnificent Israeli desert. 

It’s these celebrations of the mundane that make Richman a true champion for the common man. It didn’t hurt that the Modern Lovers would also regularly play old folks and children’s homes as well as the obligatory rock venues. “Government Centre”, a song about playing a gig in an office, conjures up images of secretaries dancing on their desks. Similarly, nursery rhymes such as “I’m a Little Dinosaur” and “Here Come The Martian Martians” are soundtracks for infant mosh-pits. 

This is all encompassing rock’n’roll—inventive and shambolic enough to satiate the toughest of rockers  yet wholesome enough that holidaying families could easily sing along to it in the car.  Sorry all you hipsters and musos—thanks to this compilation your secret is well and truly out. 
This music is for everybody.
by Charlie Frame

Disc One 
1. Roadrunner (Twice) - 4:06 
2. Astral Plane - 3:00 
3. Pablo Picasso - 4:22 
4. She Cracked - 2:55 
5. Hospital - 5:31 
6. Someone I Care About - 3:39 
7. I'm Straight - 4:18 
8. Modern World (Alternate Take) - 3:16 
9. Dignified And Old - 2:28 
10.Government Centre - 2:17 
11.The New Teller - 1:42 
12.It Will Stand (General Johnson) - 2:36 
13.Back In The Usa (Chuck Berry) - 2:26 
14.Rockin' Shopping Center - 3:38 
15.New England - 2:25 
16.Lonely Financial Zone - 3:00 
17.Here Come The Martian Martians - 3:15 
18.Amazing Grace (John Newton, Traditional) - 2:48 
19.Rockin' Rockin' Leprechauns - 2:12 
20.Summer Morning - 3:52 
21.Afternoon - 2:51 
22.Egyptian Reggae (Earl Johnson, Jonathan Richman) - 2:37 

Disc Two
1. The Sweeping Wind (Ewa Ti Feng) (Traditional) - 2:03
2. Dodge Veg-O-Matic (Extended Version) - 5:42
3. Fly Into The Mystery - 3:18
4. The Wheels On The Bu (Traditional) - 2:29
5. Angels Watching Over Me (Traditional) - 1:51
6. I'm A Little Airplane - 2:41
7. Hey There Little Insect - 2:46
8. Ice Cream Man - 7:28
9. I'm A Little Dinosaur - 2:03
10.The Morning Of Our Lives - 5:28
11.Chapel Of Love (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector) - 2:43
12.Abdul And Cleopatra - 3:17
13.Lover Please (Billy Swan) - 1:57
14.Affection - 4:07
15.Buzz Buzz Buzz (Robert Byrd, John Gray) - 1:58
16.Back In Your Life - 2:13
17.Party In The Woods Tonight - 3:01
18.I'm Nature's Mosquito - 2:44
19.Lydia (Levy) - 3:09
20.I Hear You Calling Me (Charles Marshall) - 2:51
21.Roadrunner (Once) - 4:43
All Songs by Jonathan Richman unless as else indicated.

Free Text


El Greco said...

woo hoo!! What a perfect way to start a new morning. Thanks to you Marios.

Gyro1966 said...

Thanks for this, and the 320 option!

MIke Brandon said...

I am having the same issue with the MP3 rar of this album, too.

could it be my computer?

never had an issue before with any stuff off this blog.

and I have downloaded about 20 other things.

TheCoverHeaven said...

Great compilation!

Sean said...

Well, considering the Modern Lovers S/T album was recorded in 1972 (and released much later), they were far ahead of their time. I say "they" because Harrison, Robinson & whoever the guy on bass was could certainly pump out the new wave beats. As with the Velvets, you could dance to Richman's music as well as marvel at its humor or insights. Thank you Marios.

peter said...

Personally I would say you have enough on the Modern Lovers debut album (extended version with 17 songs) and some of those songs are not on this collection. And there you go... that's why you need this double cd... you really NEED this one ... roadrunner once... roadrunner twice... I'm in love with rock & roll!

echoes said...

Have been quite interested in New wave when it was happening but later somehow lost interest in it.
Didn't know this one before but it certainly deserves attention.
Good music.

Brain Police said...

Hi Marios, I have the first album of The Modern Lovers on vinyl and also in lossy :-( It is great album and like he said "Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole" (also great in John Cale's interpretation). I have another Richman album on vinyl, but he definitely changed his style and songs like "Ice Cream Man" do not exactely ring my bell! Thanks for sharing!

mscmichael said...

One of my favorite artists! thanks a lot...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who hasn't seen the raunch-comedy movie "There's Something About Mary" should check it out for Richman's performance as an oddball/hipster folk singer. He's hilarious in that film.

sparkler said...

wow...awesome! Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers always puts a smile on my face. (:

morwells said...

There is problems with both the flac and mp3. They do not unpack correctly. please can you fix

Morwells said...

Ah the problem was on my end. Thank you Marios for this amazing share

joaquín said...

Gracias por el blog. Ya he escuchado el magnífico disco de Richman.

Anonymous said...

Simple question: how i can download this? I'm stupid, thank you

Israel Piñones said...

vale viejitooo, que regalo me has dadoo!

javier delgado said...

Hello, everybody. Does anybody knows the password to unzip it?
Forever grateful if you share it!

¿Alguien sabe cuál es la contraseña para abrir el archivo zip?
Si lo comparten, les estaré muy agradecido.

Marios said...

Hi Javier pass is: xara

fuuckingyouth said...

Thank you so much! I've been looking for this, v appreciated :-)