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jonathan richman recommendations

 
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mama



Joined: 09 Jan 2016
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:40 pm    Post subject: jonathan richman recommendations Reply with quote

I've just started listening to J.R., (I know, I know)..I like the beach, doo-wop, summer, acoustic sound more than the roadrunner, I'm Straight kind of sound..at least for now

What's a good few albums to start looking into by JR/Modern lovers?

Also I know nothing about this guy, so any interesting information would be cool!
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh man, what a great body of work to delve into!
Speaking as somebody who owns pretty much everything he ever put out I can make some recommendations!
The early full rock-band Modern Lovers stuff, that you're seeking to stay away from, is only found on that first Modern Lovers album, no other Jonathan releases sound like that. Even the albums that are called "Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers" just sound like Jonathan Richman, acoustic and playful, they do not sound like the Modern Lovers. So no worries there.
My personal picks for the top quality Jonathan Richman albums would be
I, Jonathan (1992)
Back in Your Life (1979)
those are maybe really the best two? Great ones to start with.
Then there's a whole lot of others that are really good:
I'm So Confused (1998) (some don't like the production but I think it's great)
You Must Ask the Heart (1995)
Rock & Roll With the Modern Lovers (1977)
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers (1976)
Not So Much to be Loved as to Love (2004)
Surrender to Jonathan (1996) (bad/over-production, but such great songs)
A lot of people say Jonathan Goes Country is one of their favorites, but to me it's in the category that all his other albums are in, all the ones I'm not listing here, and that's basically the category where ALL the rest of his albums DO have good songs on them, there's no such thing as a bad Jonathan Richman album, but the proportion of great songs to not-very-great songs becomes a bit more like half and half, or only 25% great songs and a lot of not-as-great material.
Mostly you can't go wrong. However in the past ten years he has developed a bit of a new style, where he is sort of no longer a songwriter - all he wants to do, it seems to me, is make up songs on the spot. So his concerts, and his albums of the past ten years or so, are full of sort of song-sketches, they all sound sort of improvised, they might have a nice idea or two but they're not really songs the way his earlier decades of material is chock full of real songs, great songs. He seems nowadays to only be interested in the spark of discovery and loose feeling and excitement that comes from just making stuff up on the spot. I can see that it brings him joy to work this way, rather then feeling constrained to actually have to write a song, and play a song, but it doesn't result in particularly strong albums. They all feel like they could have been better if he actually spent 20 minutes writing each song first before recording them, rather than just 3 minutes singing some random stuff then stopping. There's a lot of things that could have been turned into great Jonathan Richman songs, if he was in the mood to do any work. But he prefers to play, not work. It's a valid way to be an artist, maybe, it's a nice decision for him to make. But as a fan it can be a bit frustrating.
But you have pleeeennnnttttyyy of great great great Jonathan Richman albums and songs to discover.
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS - I do love that first Modern Lovers album, and I do feel it's a shame that he didn't make a few more albums like that, in the early 70s, before abandoning the punk/rock band sound. For people who DO like his early sound, there are a couple albums of early out takes and demos and live recordings, to add to that one Modern Lovers album.
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ELLIOT



Joined: 07 Aug 2007
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree with Jeff that you have a lot to look forward to discovering.

I would also recommend checking out ‘It’s Time For’ (1986) by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers since it includes 3 of my favourite tracks: ‘This Love of Mine’, ‘It’s You’ and ‘Corner Store’.

Here is a list of songs to checkout:

The UFO Man
Up In The Sky Sometime
Ice Cream Man
Stop This Car
Give Paris One More Chance
New England
Government Centre
It’s You
Let’s Take A Trip
This Love Of Mine
Corner Store
Buzz Buzz Buzz
Back In Your Life
Lydia
Parties in the U.S.A
The Beach
That Summer Feeling
The Tag Game
Since She Started To Ride
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mama



Joined: 09 Jan 2016
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the info and recommendations so far! I will be looking into this. Physical releases seem kind of hard to find, right? Or pricey. Right now these three records sound very good "I, Jonathan", Modern Lovers 88" and "It's Time For". Excited to start hunting in the record stores.
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I gotta say Modern Lovers 88 is one of my least favorite Jonathan albums, it's like, there's his top 33% albums, then his middle-quality 33% of releases, and I'd put Modern Lovers 88 in his bottom-quality 33% of releases. Still good, of course, cuz all his stuff is good. But, I guess, it's "as bad as Jonathan Richman gets," to put it that way. Songs on there like "Circle I" and "Dancing Late At Night", they're fine fun Jonathan Richman songs, but there's nothing approaching the emotional depth of the songs on his better albums, songs like "Affection," "Not So Much to Be Loved As To Love,", "If She Don't Love Me," "The Lonely Little Thrift Store," "Floating", "Surrender", "Not Just a Plus-One on the Guest List", "No Need to Let the Neighbors Run My Life", "To Hide a Little Thought," even stuff like "Just Because I'm Irish", my god, the list of his truly great songs goes on and on. The fun and lightweight songs are always enjoyable. But when he gut-punches you by tackling a real topic, with real human weight and depth, with all the same playful creativity and humor, but with a really brave glimpse into human emotions and experiences, that's where you've got to say this guy is one of the truly great songwriters. I love the fun and playful stuff too, but when it's all just flimsy and silly stuff the balance doesn't hit the mark for me.
But what the hell do I know, these are only subjective opinions. And I do love all of his stuff, so I really don't think you can go wrong. Any albums, any songs, you'll get a sense of what's good about him.
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

....Aaaaaaand while we're on the topic of recommendations, if the wonderful world of Jonathan Richman is new for exploration, how are you on Beat Happening? A much smaller body of work, easier to dive in. The first album (yellow cover with cat drawing, self-titled, lo-fi) is an all-time classic, and oddly enough their final (fifth?) album (You Turn Me On) is their best album. Not many bands can boast that their final album is their best. That's pretty unusual.
Actually, you know who else is like that, is Phil Ochs. His first album and his final album are his best ones (tho the 2nd one is also right up there).
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Pat



Joined: 24 Jan 2017
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

damn first a post about the velvet underground now this! my favorite Johnathan albums ar definitely I Johnathan and Johnathan goes country. some of the best stuff to me is the weird random shit you find on youtube. he does this crazy version of affection on top of the pops and there's a collection of outtakes for its time for... (i think) called johnathan goes funky. its got some cool funk songs with him singing over a full band.
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I've never heard Jonathan Goes Funky! I'll have to check that out!
I've recently been re-listening to a couple of his most recent albums, "O Moon, Queen of Night On Earth" and "Ishkode! Ishkode!" both of which I bought for $10 each at his live gigs, quite a decent price... and they are both actually very good albums. Maybe I wouldn't recommend them as the best place to start, but it's great to see that he's still making such good art and good recordings. I was starting to get a little worried there, around the time of "Because her Beauty is Raw and Wild"... but the newer ones are very good.
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm listening to Jonathan Goes Funky on Youtube right now, and it's fantastic. (There's even another version of "No Need to Let the Neighbors Run My Life")
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