Outdoor Summer Vinyl Series: The Original Modern Lovers

Band: The Modern Lovers
Year: 1981
 BOMP! Records

The Modern Lovers, I tell you, if you didn’t find this one among your dad’s record stacks plus you have no idea what these dudes were even about, I’ll try to explain a little bit. The back cover liner notes by Kim Fowley and Jonathan Richman shed size six font mounds of text, but basically here goes: Fowley comes upon The Modern Lovers, brings them to a studio, and the group finishes these recordings in one day under Fowley utterances like “think Sun Records! Think history!” Says a New York Rocker critic, had these recordings come out in 1972, “it would have changed everything that happened in the ’70s.” Richman – who is aided on here by Jerry Harrison, David Robinson, and Ernie Brooks – is a good deal more unassuming when it comes to The Original Modern Lovers. He notes that this LP was neither truly recorded in the Spring of ’72 as is advertised nor all recorded in a single session. I remember listening to this outside last summer (I believe for the first time… at least in a long while) and my mom commented ‘who is that kid singing? Sounds awful.’ Sheez I said, if this sounds awful how do I sound? She said better. I guess that is partially what moms are for. To me OML is gold. These songs aren’t ’60s garage fratters, they aren’t heavy, certainly not pop-polished. Instead, they stand firmly on their own, some truly rockin’ numbers like the MassFamous ‘Road Runner #1/#2’ with references to Stop and Shop, ‘Astral Plane’ and ‘Girlfren’. Inspiration – Iggy and Lou – that’s the inspiration Richman cites. You’ll hear figments of those guys on here. But beyond that, The Original Modern Lovers is an “i don’t care what anyone thinks, i’m gonna have fun and do what I do in my own way, with my voice and the tons of inflections and manipulations that I can think of” situation. That way of thinking is wilder than a lot of music that sounds wilder, it allows wasteful youths to sucker in rock ‘n roll history without taking abridged shortcuts. A silent trailblazer into some DIY musical landscape that started with punk and runs riot today. I like that people could be fronting all like what is this shit, he doesn’t know how to sing, is this even music. Jonathan Richman is content, somewhere. I’m down with that.

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