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By Request-The Best Modern Lovers post, ever

Other than maybe the Pistols and a couple more that aren't coming to mind, has there ever been a
band that released only a single album in their lifetime, and have it be as brilliant, influential, and eternal as the Modern Lovers 1976 release? Not too many at least. Jonathon Richman had been knocking around Boston for the first half of the 1970's, perfecting his licks and performing reportedly incredible live shows. The lineup that spit out this album had more than a little talent to say the least...besides Richman, they were made up of David Robinson (soon to be of the Cars), Jerry Harrison (future Talking Head), and Ernie Brooks who was absolutley no slouch either.....tcked around with Warner Brothers for years attempting to get the thing on vinyl, WB eventually withdrew their support, and Richman moved to California and hooked up with the sort of odd Berserkely Records, whose stable also included Greg Kihn and Earth Quake. Finally the thing came out in 1976, and was it ever worth the wait.......this is an almost perfect album, five stars all the way.

The original release consisted of (by then) 4-5 year old recordings of only nine tracks (all of them great), in time various release versions have added "bonus" tracks, the veresion I have I think is the most common, with, in addition to the original 9,gives us "Dignified and Old", as well as "I'm Straight" and "Government Center", the latter two having appeared on the "Troublemakers" comp from Warner Brothers (see my archive)....all three tracks are fanastic as well and the album be somewhat lacking without them.  

What a brilliant piece of innocent, powerful, amazing rock n roll.....Richman's vocals cannot be described, he sounds bored/sarcastic/stupid/knowing and God knows what else ALL AT ONCE, an this is on every song. Leading off is the positively anthemic "Road  Runner" often covered, never matched. A wonderful love song to rock n roll, it is a piece of perection...."Gonna drive the stop n shop....with the radio on" "I'm in love with Massacheusettes"......"Modern Girls and modern rock n roll"... every line is a goddamn revelation.....one highlight for me is Richman's encoraging "Now YOU sing, Modern Lovers" before the final chorus. What an incredible song.

Not that the rest is exactly filler....."Astral Plane" is a wonderful, rambling plea to get a chick to sleep
with Richman, "Old World" is a fine comparison between, yep, old times and modern, laving it open for debate as to which were "better". "Pablo Picasso" is one of the album's best known tracks (Other than "Road Runner"  I'd assume) and is perhaps my least favorite as it delves maybe just a bit much into outright silliness ("Pablo Picasso.....was never called an asshole....") still it has it's charms, and certainly is better than the weakest track on 99% of the albums ever released.

"I'm Straight" is pretty silly as well, to be honest, but Jonathon pleading with his girlfriend to break up with "Hippie Johnny" (.."he's always stoned, he's never straight") always leaves me laughing. A celebration of "straightness".....just hadn't been done before.

Well, I'm not going to disect EACH song as much as I'd love to,  rest assured that the rest is every bit as good, in particular "Modern World" ("...put down that cigarette, and drop out of B.U.!") and the wonderful "Government Center" ("they gotta lotta great desks and chairs at the governement center.....")......all of it so simple it's mind bending, so "straight" it's beyond hip, without question one of the top ten albums of the 1970's and (for me at least) that is a mouthful. ....

The band broke up and left us with this single gem of a record, Richamn, of course, continued to perform using the name Modern Lovers......the stuff is decent, less rocking, and, to be completely honest not really up of tea......I've not included TOO much of the post (1976) "Modern Lovers" stuff (I don't even have the follow up "Rock N Roll with the Modern Lovers" which was done with a completely different band and is, in my opinion, quite short of stellar.

So......if you're a fan of the Modern Lovers, obviously you already HAVE the amazing album
described above, so let's crack open the vault and see what else we can find, hopefully coming up with as much material as possible from the original crew......

Well, for career comprehensiveness, we have the two-disc "Roadrunner Roadrunner: The Beserkely Collection", which has a little bit of everything, plenty of alternate takes on the great stuff from the album, also plenty of post-1976 stuff to give you a clear idea of the directio which Richman was going   ("I'm a Little Dinosaur", "I'm a Little Airplane", I'm thinking there was also an "I'm a Little Car").....anyway, this is VER comprehensive, has a LOT of non-essential stuff, but interesting? Hard to argue that. Hard core Richman fans will love this, hard core Modern Lovers fans (me!) will find it an very interseting curiosity.

The best known of the live recordings of the band, I think, is "Precise Modern Lovers Order", recorded I beleive around 1972 or so, it is very, very good, and includes a lot of stuff that didn't eventually make the debut album. Essential for  Modern Lovers fans.

OK, the rest of this stuff is kind of hit and miss, all of it is of interest at the very least. A set of demos from 1971-73,  different, quite different in fact, versions of a few tracks that would make the first LP, notably "Modern World" and "Hopsital". We have a rocking 1971 set at Harvard University before an adoring audience, I'd guess "Roadrunner" hadn't been concieved yet, it would have brought down the house.

I have a fairly sloppy sounding 2 disc live show from Stonehenge MA, from 1971 or 72, interesting
for the inclusions of "I Grew Up in the Suburbs", and "Song of Rememberance For Old Girlfriends".....sound quality a bit on the iffy side, but not unlistenable.

Recordings of the "original" band are pretty scarce, the above is what I have, looking around the web I found something called the "Laura Palmer Tape" which is some kind of a homemade cassette (beleive me you can hear the "tape hiss"'), no idea as to anything else about it, might as well put it up there.

Despite my better judgement I am going to include a couple of live shows from the "Modern Lovers II", the band without any Lovers othr than Richman. One from 1976, a while after the break the original crew, truly, if nothing else, it serves to bridge the gap between the sublime ("Roadrunner", "Governement Center") to the ridiculous ("Here Come the Martian Martians", "Dodge Veg-O-Matic").....I also have a 1978 show from the latter-day Lovers, by now PACKED with silliness ("Rockin Rockin Leprechauns", "Hey There Little Insect") , not even a version of "Roadrunner".

Look, I know some people, a that LOVE Richman's post-debut album stuff......it's not really for me, although I've included a bit of it here, due to the fact that so little classic material exists and in order to give something of a "picture" of the artist as a whole......simply, like Elvis Costello and the Pretenders, he was an act that I loved for a while, and then chose to go in a different direction that was not for me......certainly nothing personal, and I can forgive a LOT for that classic first "Modern Lovers" album. Radios On!

MODERN LOVERS-01 Roadrunner/02 Astral Plane/03 Old World/04 Pablo Picasso/05 I'm
Straight/06 Dignified and Old/07 She Cracked/08 Hospital/09 Someone I Care About/10 Girl Friend/11 Modern World/12 Governement Center

THE BERSERKLEY COLLECTION DISC 1-01 Roadrunner (Twice)/02 Astral Plane/03 Pablo Picasso/04 She Cracked/05 Hospital/06 Someone I Care About/07 I'm  Straight/08 Modern World (Alternate Take)/09 Dignified and Old/10 Governement Center/11 The New Teller/12 It Will Stand/13 Back In the USA/14 Rockin Shopping Center/15 New England/16 Lonely Financial Zone/17 Here Come the Martian Martians/18 Amazing Grace/19 Rockin Rockin Leprechauns/20 Summer Morning/21 Afternoon/22 Egyptian Reggae

THE BERSERKELEY COLLECTON DISC 2-01 The Sweeping Wind/02 Dodge Veg-O-Matic (Extended Version)/03 Fly Into Mystery/04 The Wheels on the Bus/05 Angels Watching Over Me/06 I'm a Little Airplane/07 Hey There Little Insect/08 Ice Cream Man/09 I'm  a Little Dinosaur/10 The Morning of Our Lives/11 Chapel of Love/12 Abdul and Cleopatra/13 Lover Please/14 Affection/15 Buzz Buzz Buzz/16 Back In Your Life/17 Party In the Woods Tonight/18 I'm Nature's Mosquito/19 Lydia/20 I Hear You Calling Me/21 Roadrunner (Once)

PRECISE MODERN LOVERS ORDER-01 Someone I Care About/02 Dance With Me/03 She Cracked/04 Hospital/05 Womanhood/06 Dignified and Old/07 Girlfriend/08 Foggy Notion/09 Ride on the Highway/10 Pablo Picasso/11 A Plea For Tenderness/12 Walk Up the Street/13 Fly Into Mystery/14 I'm Straight/15 The Mixer/16 Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste/17 Roadrunner

UNRELEASED DEMOS 1971-73-01  Ride Down on the Highway(Intermedia Demos)/02.  Such Loneliness  ( John Cale demos)/03.  Girlfriend  (  John Cale demos)/04.  Hospital  ( Dinky Dawson demos)/05.  Astral Plane (false start)  (Dinky Dawson demos)/06.  Modern World ( Kim Fowley LP sessions)/07.  Fly into the Mystery ( Kim Fowley LP sessions)/08.  Hospital  (Kim Fowley LP sessions)/09.  A Plea for Tenderness ( Kim Fowley LP sessions)/10. Dignified and Old  ( Probably Kim Fowley LP sessions)/11. New England Summer Song (instrumental) (unknown source)

HARVARD UNIVERSITY 1971-01 She Cracked/02 Astral Plane/03 Someone I Care About/04
Hospital/05 I'm Straight/06 Cambridge Clown/07 Fly Into the Mystery/08 Such Lonliness/09 Womanhood/10 Dignified and Old/11 Unknown Instrumental

STONEHENGE MA 1972 D1-01.  Modern World/02.  Ride Down on the Highway/03.  Girlfriend/04.  She Cracked/05.  Womanhood/06.  Old World

STONEHENGE MA 1972 D2-01.  Fly Into the Mystery/02.  Dignified and Old/03.  Pablo Picasso/04.  Cambridge Clown/05.  Astral Plane/06.  Song of Remembrance for Old Girlfriends/07.  Such Loneliness/08.  I Grew Up in the Suburbs/09.  A Plea for Tenderness (incomplete) 10. Roadrunner (cut)

THE LAURA PALMER TAPE-01 Government Centre/02 The New teller/03 Thunderbolts of Joy/04
My Honest Dear/ 05 Singing in the Rain/06 So much respect for you/ 07I'm not alone (The heavens Love me) 08 Cum By Ya/09 Hi Fred we still love you/10 Flying Saucers rock and roll/11Laura's song

1976 NEW YORK-01 Intro/02 Back In the USA/03 Roadrunner/04 Rockin Rockin Leprechauns/05 Ice Cream Man/06 Ancient Long Time Ago/07 Cum By Ya/08 Government Center/09 Here Come the Martian Martians/10 Dodge Veg-O-Matic/11 New England/12 La Bamba/13 Springtime/14 Summer Morning/15 Band Intro/16 Back Into Your Life/17 The New Teller/18 The New Teller (Tape Error)/19 The New Teller Reggae Reprise/20 Important In Your Life/21 Fly Into the Mystery/22 Abominable Snowmen In the Market/23 Ice Cream Man/24 Rockin Rockin Leprechauns/25 Astral /A Wonderful Girl

1978 STOCKHOLM SWEDEN-01 Announcement/02 Hi Dear/03 Back In the USA/04 Egyptian Reggae/05 Roller Coaster By the Sea/06 Pretty Little Girl/07 My Love Is a Flower/08 Rockin Rockin Leprechauns/09 Ice Cream Man/10 Here Come the Martian Martians/11 New England/12 Hey There Little Insect/13 Governement Center/14 It Will Stand/15 The New Teller/16 I'm a Little Dinosaur/17 My Little Kookenhaken/18 Abdul and Cleopatra/19 Dodge Veg O Matic

Lotta stuff there, some good, some, well.....TOMORROW: A special GUEST post from of the great FRIENDS OF THE BLOG.....I haven't even listened to it yet and even if it SUCKS, it is getting put up (I'm sure it DOESN'T suck)....Why? Because I'll put damn near anything on here! That is how it SHOULD be and as such, it is LESS WORK for the BigMan!

See's ya's 2Morrow!

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