Monday, March 31, 2014


If ever there was a band that put out one great LP and subsequently took a shit, it was the Modern Lovers. Their first LP is great, from beginning to end. It's hard to believe that it was intended as demos. Recorded in 1971 and 1972, the sessions for all but one of the songs were funded by two labels that hoping to sign them, with one of the sessions produced by John Cale. After taking roughly a year to make a decision about which label to sign with, they decided on Warners, and went back in the studio with Cale for a proper recording session. This is right about the moment they took a shit. Sometime during the course of that year between sessions, Jonathan Richman went kinda goofy, as in not crazy, but literally goofy. He didn't want the band to sound as they did, and was leaning towards lighter weight stuff, songs like "Abominable Snowman in the Market", "Hey There Little Insect", and "Here Come the Martian Martians". The rest of the band, the label, and Cale had a collective "WTF?" moment. Things for the original Modern Lovers were over, and everyone went their own way. Richman got his mellow cake, and the other members would end up in the Talking Heads (Jerry Harrison, keyboards), DMZ and the Cars (David Robinson, drums), the Neccessaries (Ernie Brooks, bass) and the Real Kids (intermittent part time member John Felice, guitar).

You can read a lot more about the the history of the Modern Lovers at Rock In Boston (excellent), and Wikipedia and such. The one tidbit I found interesting was that at the time of the aborted recording sessions, Richman was friends with Gram Parsons. They shared the same manager, Matthew Kaufman, and were his only two clients. Good enough friends that they were playing miniature golf together the day before Parsons died. They had reportedly also discussed working together. Had that happened, would Parsons had cleaned up? Shunned Keith Richards? Would he have lived? Would he have gone the direction of Richman, and put out his own childrens records for adults? A whole chapter of the lexicon of cool would have to be rewritten. The horror.

If you're already familiar with the first LP and dig it, you need to check the live thing at Aquarium Drinkard, two sets from 1971 and '72. It may not surface again.

Modern Lovers - She Cracked mp3 at The Rising Storm
Modern Lovers - Pablo Picasso mp3 at DJNoDJ
Modern Lovers - Roadrunner mp3 at BlahblahblahScience
Modern Lovers - I Wanna Sleep In Your Arms mp3 at Boogie Woogie Flu Bonus cut on reissue
Very early live:
The Modern Lovers - Live at Stonhenge Club at Aquarium Drinkard Two sets in one zip. 1970-71 Ipswich, MA.
The Modern Lovers - Extensive profile at Rock In Boston
The Modern Lovers - Album entry at Wikipedia

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