Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Happy 66th Birthday, Jonathan Richman, you splendidly goofy musical misfit!

Very Velvet Underground - but minus the heroin and the gloom. "Roadrunner" is from 1974, and it's still his finest recording, but I have huge affection for this instrumental chart hit from 1977 (even if you can't abide the song, you'll enjoy the video):

Ah, "Egyptian Reggae" - I almost broke a girl's leg dancing to that one when it was still riding high in the charts (drink had been taken). Cultural appropriation at its finest. Speaking of which...
One last favourite from 1977 - the absolutely ridiculous "Dodge Veg-o-matic" (no, sorry - I don't have a clue):
Only Jonathan Richman, a performer of proto-Punk music just a few years earlier, would have decided to wait until Punk Rock was at its zenith to record a whacky acoustic album like Rock 'n' Roll with The Modern Lovers. Here's "Someone I Care About", which appeared on the 1976 album, The Modern Lovers, but was actually recorded in 1972. How typical of J. Richman, in the middle of rock music's most morally abandoned, hedonist period, to give us a hard-driving rock song rejecting casual sex: 
Also recorded in 1972, "Pablo Picasso" is musically dull, but redeemed by the immortal couplet, "Pablo Picasso/ Never got called an asshole":
I was going to end with Richman's appearance in the film There's Something About Mary, singing the title song - but the only version I can find online has him dubbed in French (!). So, instead, I'll finish with the jaunty "Dancing in the Lesbian Bar", from 1992:
We will not see his like again. Many might think that's a good thing - but not me. Many Happy Returns, Jonathan!

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