Friday, April 6, 2007

Dick Van Dyke One Man Band Machine: Johnathon Richman

I was originally going to write a post about Simply Saucer and Johnathon Richman and The Modern Lovers. In the end, I was more interested in writing about the song that was the main focus of the comparison between the Velvet Underground obsessed bands, "Velvet Underground" by Richman. So, in turn, I decided to add another semi-regular feature to the blog, Dick Van Dyke One Man Band Machine, (basically, song reviews with a pop culture reference title that has nothing to do with anything).

Johnathon Richman was a teenager obsessed with The Velvet Underground. While they were still together. There's that tired adage, only 100 people heard The Velvet Underground, but they started 100 bands. Richman is the personification of this saying. And what a band he made. The Modern Lovers' lone album is all jangled nerves and teenage worrying set to a VU shuffle. Years later, Johnathon Richman recorded a song dedicated to Velvet Underground. A song that should be the theme for every VU fan that's not actually into sadomasochism, heroin, speed, lonesome cowboys, and "suckin' on a ding-dong". It's all wide-eyed reverence and evangelizing your favorite band. Equating the Velvet Underground with "America at it's best".

Towards the end of the song, the friendly standard Richman shuffle shifts into a cover of "Sister Ray". I really can't think of another song that heaps such praise on it's subject, except maybe "Heroin".

so, the impetus for this post was Simply Saucer who are currently blowing me away. they're a Canadian band that officially released only a single while they were together. A posthumous album was cobbled together from sessions, demos, etc. they're going back into the studio now almost 30 years after they broke up. a Pitchfork news item about this reunion is how I found out about them. I'm going to be working a post about their album Cyborgs Revisited for The Red Skull, a feature on this blog about overlooked or stumbled upon albums (previously covered in Red Skull, The Kinks and Kaleidoscope).

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