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The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers (1976)

November 6, 2016

usatunesoftheworld

Unbelievable USA logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

USA Artists (so far): Aimee Mann, Marty Robbins, D’Angelo, The Modern Lovers

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Here’s another post that’s been sitting in ‘Draft’ mode for months, this one since February 2016.

Though I remember why this one never made it to ‘publish’ mode: at the time of writing, I was in the UK stop of this year’s musical World Tour. I was all set to publish when I realized, oops, these guys are American, the post will have to wait!

Fortuitously, this unintentional gap between production date & release date fits nicely with my feelings about the record.

I’ll pretend it was a strategic delay in posting, rather than my incorrectly thinking this US band originally hailed from the UK!

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[Album 448 483/1001]

When there’s a sizeable gap between production date and release date, I reckon there are only two possible outcomes: the product is either off-the-charts amazing or awful.

From the world of film, I remember reading about an Eddie Murphy vehicle named 1000 Words, filmed in 2008 and eventually released in 2012. I haven’t seen it, but it appears critics needed much fewer than 1000 words to express their disgust with the movie!

Conversely from the world of music, Neil Young’s Tonight the Night spent 2 years on the shelf before its eventual release. There are probably some reviews that awarded the album less than 5 stars, but there aren’t many of them.

So is/are The Modern Lovers more like Eddie or Neil?

While they share a 4-year delay between recording & release with Eddie, the results are much closer to Neil.

Though it sounds nothing like Tonight’s the Night, the music is similarly straightforward and the wandering vocals are positively imperfect.

picture1

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Ever since I relinquished control of the car stereo to my daughters, I find I’m drawn to this sort of flawed record.

My eldest adores the radio. Although I quite enjoy hearing her sing along (and I’m astonished at her ability to remember lyrics), I find most of the modern radio love songs are too precise, too perfect for my tastes.

My youngest prefers Sesame Street, which may be a little less produced, but even Elmo’s harmonies are spot on!

So perhaps The Modern Lovers isn’t/aren’t all that great, it merely benefits from its role as an antidote to the popular/PBS soundtrack of my typical day.

Or perhaps, it’s the flubbed notes, the back-to-basics feel, that make(s) The Modern Lovers atypical. And therefore all that great.

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From → 1970s

37 Comments
  1. Come on man – this is an album that rhymes ‘Picasso’ with ‘Asshole’! It’s a work of genius!

  2. You’re right about Tonight’s the Night, by far my favorite Neil LP.

    • A friend of a friend posted his LPs for sale on Facebook the other day – I didn’t login in time, his vinyl copy of Tonight’s the Night I think was gone right away!

  3. Brief reviews (negative ones) always take me to the memorable scene in Spinal Tap where the review of ‘Shark Sandwich’ is shared: Shit sandwich.
    Not that I read you as dissing the Modern Lovers so roundly, but I agree that one needs to be in the mood for ‘warts and all’ recordings. However Picasso/asshole is very fine.

    • And being taken back to Spinal Tap is rarely a bad thing!
      I’m finding the mood is striking more and more frequently for ‘warts and all’ recordings – I’ve really started to gravitate to those records where it feels like they just ‘pressed record’ and off they went!

  4. I can’t say I’m familiar with this at all, but I believe I know the Picasso track Joe and Bruce referenced (covered by Bowie?). Then again, maybe not. Regardless, I don’t think I’m all that inclined to check this one out.

    • If/when you guys start listening to super-polished kids music with the young man J, I’d recommend this as a palette cleanser!

      • Noted! Right now I’m steering him towards ZZ Top and R.L. Burnside… figure that’s got to be a good start for him!

      • I think that’s a fine start to his musical education!

      • I’m trying to give him the best possible start in life, Geoff 😀

  5. Brings to mind Black Flag. There was a bunch of legal crap with the label, so they couldn’t release anything, but they kept working. When the legal crap was done, they dropped 3 albums in a year! Point: hiatuses suck.

  6. Thank heavens for folk like yourself who can find joy and beauty in honest flaws and brilliant imperfection. Elmo antidote or not, my vote is that The Modern Lovers album is indeed “all that great,” and I’d really appreciate it if at least one of my votes this week were to win the day…

    • Your vote most definitely counts here! It’s been a discouraging week, thankfully I’ve found these discussions with fellow music fans have helped boost my spirits, cheers for your comments 🙂

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  3. Steely Dan – Countdown to Ecstasy (1973) | 1001albumsin10years
  4. Grant Lee Buffalo – Fuzzy (1993) | 1001albumsin10years
  5. 2Pac – Me Against The World (1995) | 1001albumsin10years
  6. Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson (1971) | 1001albumsin10years
  7. Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (2000) | 1001albumsin10years
  8. Willie Nelson – Stardust (1978) | 1001albumsin10years
  9. Emmylou Harris – Pieces of the Sky (1975) | 1001albumsin10years
  10. Randy Newman – Good Old Boys (1974) | 1001albumsin10years
  11. The Monkees – Headquarters (1967) | 1001albumsin10years
  12. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (1993) | 1001albumsin10years
  13. The Byrds – Younger than Yesterday (1967) | 1001albumsin10years
  14. Anita Baker – Rapture (1986) | 1001albumsin10years
  15. Circle Jerks – Group Sex (1980) | 1001albumsin10years
  16. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976) | 1001albumsin10years
  17. Wilco – Being There (1996) | 1001albumsin10years
  18. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986) | 1001albumsin10years

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