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“Compiled of demos the band recorded with John Cale in 1973, The Modern Lovers is one of the great proto-punk albums of all time, capturing an angst-ridden adolescent geekiness which is married to a stripped-down, minimalistic rock & roll derived from the art punk of the Velvet Underground. While the sound is in debt to the primal three-chord pounding of early Velvet Underground, the attitude of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers is a million miles away from Lou Reed’s jaded urban nightmares. As he says in the classic two-chord anthem “Roadrunner,” Richman is in love with the modern world and rock & roll. He’s still a teenager at heart, which means he’s not only in love with girls he can’t have, but also radios, suburbs, and fast food, and it also means he’ll crack jokes like “Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole…not like you.”

“Pablo Picasso” is the classic sneer, but “She Cracked” and “I’m Straight” are just as nasty, made all the more edgy by the Modern Lovers’ amateurish, minimalist drive. But beneath his adolescent posturing, Richman is also nakedly emotional, pleading for a lover on “Someone I Care About” and “Girl Friend,” or romanticizing the future on “Dignified and Old.” That combination of musical simplicity, driving rock & roll, and gawky emotional confessions makes The Modern Lovers one of the most startling proto-punk records — it strips rock & roll to its core and establishes the rock tradition of the geeky, awkward social outcast venting his frustrations. More importantly, the music is just as raw and exciting now as when it was recorded in 1973, or when it was belatedly released in 1976.

With and without the Modern Lovers, Richman has produced an astounding body of work, which has streamed continuously from his start in the ’70s. While one of the most underrated songwriters of our time, Richman’s knack for writing clever, timeless, and most of all lovable pop tunes has prompted his embrace as one of history’s greatest songsmiths by those even vaguely familiar with his catalog. His work is highly regarded among his peers– David Bowie’s cover of “Pablo Picasso” on last year’s Reality being but the most recent example.

If you haven’t, track down any of many early (through the ’70s and ’80s) Richman recordings– Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, or the seminal compilation Beserkely Years are good places to start– and be reminded how it feels to fall in love with music.”

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine

DOWNLOAD:
The Modern Lovers-The Modern Lovers (2007 remaster)
320kbps MP3

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2 Comments

  1. fuck jonathan richman. conor has made me hate them/him with a virulent passion.

  2. ahaha what the fuck is this stupidityi just noticed it


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