When I was in art school (s/o to Manchester Community College), I pretty much only listened to Television, Talking Heads, and The Modern Lovers. (OK, I listened to Kate Bush too.) When I was writing my artist’s statement for my annual critique, I worked in a reference to Pablo Picasso, and more specifically, how no one ever called *him* an asshole. (Personally, I am not quite so lucky.) Jonathan Richman hails from Natick, Massachusetts and was an early fan of the Velvet Underground, moving to NYC (and living on their manager’s couch!) in an attempt to break into the music biz before returning to ‘Beantown’ and founding the Modern Lovers with some local folks, including Jerry Harrison (later of the ‘Heads) and David Robinson (later of The Cars). In 1972, they worked out some demos with the Velvet’s John Cale, but these tunes wouldn’t come out until long after the group had broken up, in 1976. The Modern Lovers provided the post-Velvets template for what became Punk Rock, their simplistic three-chord (or two-chord, in “Roadrunner”’s case) tracks standing in stark contrast to the hour-long-drum-solo excesses of Prog rock and the raw, androgynous energy of Glam. Richman’s wide-eyed, unaffected outlook on life softened the hard edges of his influences, adding charm and whimsy to his geeky angst and frustrations. “Roadrunner” starts the record off with a countdown to rock and roll perfection - snappy snares, juttery rhythm guitar, and I can’t stop listening to whatever the organ is doing at any given time. (The Sex Pistols did an early cover of this on The Great Rock and Roll Swindle. And I still get my groceries at Stop & Shop.) “Hospital” was culled from a 1971 demo tape, Richman pleading tunelessly over little more than snare and bass. “Someone I Care About” has fierce acoustic strumming, a precursor to Richman’s increasingly “unplugged” aesthetic throughout the years. “Modern World” closes the disc with jangly guitar solos and spirited, but totally weird sounding, claps. This is the 180g Music on Vinyl pressing, which has better bass reproduction than the last few domestic reissues. Utterly essential for any collection of recorded music.
- 180g black vinyl pressing
- original release year: 1976
- music label: Music On Vinyl 2016
reviewed by D. BODLAK 06/2019