The Modern Lovers (album)

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The Modern Lovers
Rhino's 1989 re-issue of The Modern Lovers, showing David Robinson, Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks and Jonathan Richman.
Studio album by The Modern Lovers
Released August 1976
Recorded September 1971: Intermedia Sound, Boston, MA (track 6)
March 1972: first demos with John Cale (tracks 1-5, 7) and
A & M Studios, L.A., CA (tracks 8-9)
October 1973: Goldstar Studios, Hollywood, CA (bonus tracks)
Genre Rock, protopunk
Length 34:51 (Original LP)
44:06 (1989 CD reissue)
62:13 (2003 CD reissue)
Label Beserkley
Rhino (reissue)
Producer John Cale,
Robert Appere, Alan Mason
The Modern Lovers chronology
The Modern Lovers
(1976)
The Original Modern Lovers
(1981)
Jonathan Richman chronology
The Modern Lovers
(1976)
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
(1976)

The Modern Lovers is the first album recorded by the Boston-based band The Modern Lovers. It was released on Beserkley Records in 1976, although the original nine tracks had been recorded in 1972 (or 1971 in the case of "Hospital"). Six of the original tracks were produced by John Cale. In 2003, the album was ranked number 381 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[1]

Origins of the album[edit]

The Modern Lovers were formed in 1970 by teenage singer, songwriter, guitarist Jonathan Richman. In early 1971, the band's membership was settled as Richman, Jerry Harrison (keyboards), Ernie Brooks (bass) and David Robinson (drums), with Richman's friend and original band member John Felice joining them occasionally as his school commitments allowed. By the autumn of 1971, through their live performances in Boston and New York, they had begun to attract the attention of several record company A&R men, including Stuart Love at Warner Brothers, and Alan Mason and Matthew Kaufman at A&M. The band made their first recordings for Warner Brothers at the Intermedia studios in Boston in late 1971; these included the version of "Hospital" which was later to feature on the album.[2]

In April 1972, the Modern Lovers travelled to Los Angeles where they held two demo sessions; the first was produced by the Velvet Underground's John Cale for Warner Brothers, while the second was produced by Alan Mason and Robert Appere for A&M. Both sets of sessions yielded tracks which, although originally recorded as demos, eventually found their way onto the album. The Cale sessions produced "Roadrunner", "Astral Plane", "Old World", "Pablo Picasso", "She Cracked" and "Someone I Care About". The A&M sessions yielded "Girl Friend", "Modern World", and "Dignified and Old" (which, although not included on the original LP, was included on later CD reissues).[2]

However, the band were initially undecided over which record company to sign for, returned to Boston, and also did some recordings organised by Kim Fowley and produced by Stuart "Dinky" Dawson[3] Eventually, in early 1973, they signed with Warner Brothers and agreed that John Cale should produce their debut album. In the meantime, they undertook a short residency at a hotel in Bermuda. Returning to California in the summer to work with Cale, it became apparent both that there were personality clashes between some of the band members, and that Richman now wanted to take a different approach to his songs - much more mellow and easy-paced rather than the earlier aggressive hard rock. The sessions with Cale were terminated before any new recordings were completed. Warner Brothers then engaged Kim Fowley to work with the band, but by this time Richman refused to perform some of his most popular earlier songs live. The band were also affected by the death during the sessions of their friend Gram Parsons: on the day before Parsons' death, he and Richman had played miniature golf and discussed recording together.[4] The sessions with Fowley were aborted, although two tracks, "I'm Straight" and the original recording of "Government Center", and possibly others, were later issued on CD versions of The Modern Lovers. Warner Brothers withdrew support from the band, and, early in 1974, the original Modern Lovers split up.[2]

Release of the album[edit]

In late 1974, Richman signed as a solo artist with Matthew "King" Kaufman's new label, "Home of the Hits", soon to be renamed Beserkley Records, and recorded four tracks with backing by the bands Earth Quake and The Rubinoos, including new versions of both "Roadrunner" and "Government Center". These tracks were first issued as singles and then on an album Beserkley Chartbusters Vol.1 in 1975. In 1976, with a new version of the Modern Lovers, Richman began recording what he would regard as his debut album, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.[2]

However, in the meantime, Kaufman also put together the album The Modern Lovers from remixed versions of the tracks recorded four or more years previously for Warner Brothers and A&M, and released it in August 1976. "Hospital" was credited as being 'donated by Jerry Harrison' because he had the original 1971 session tapes.[5]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau A[7]
Pitchfork Media 9.2/10[8]

The Modern Lovers was immediately given an enthusiastic critical reception, with critic Ira Robbins hailing it as "one of the truly great art rock albums of all time".[9] It influenced numerous aspiring punk rock musicians on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Sex Pistols, whose early cover of "Roadrunner" was placed on The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. In the UK, the versions of "Roadrunner" produced by Cale and Kaufman were released as two sides of a single, and became a chart hit in 1977.[10]

Bonus tracks[edit]

The 1986 Beserkley reissue of the album added "I'm Straight" from the 1973 Fowley sessions. The 1989 compact disc reissue on Rhino Records added "Government Center," also from the Fowley session, and "Dignified and Old" from the 1972 A&M demo recordings. "I'm Straight" and "Government Center" were credited to Kaufman as producer, and were originally issued on Warners Troublemakers compilation in 1980.[5]

Further bonus tracks were added on a 2003 remastered reissue on Sanctuary Records: "I Wanna Sleep In Your Arms" and "Dance With Me" (recorded at the 1973 and 1972 demos with Fowley, respectively); and alternative versions of "Roadrunner," "Someone I Care About," and "Modern World" (the first two being from the 1971 Intermedia sessions in Boston, and the last one is from the 1972 Fowley demos). This 17-track version of the album was released in the USA for the first time on Castle Records in 2007.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jonathan Richman, except track 13 by Jonathan Richman/James Osterberg.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Roadrunner" — 4:04
  2. "Astral Plane" — 3:00
  3. "Old World" — 4:00
  4. "Pablo Picasso" — 4:15

Side two[edit]

  1. "She Cracked" — 2:53
  2. "Hospital" — 5:31
  3. "Someone I Care About" — 3:37
  4. "Girlfriend" — 3:51
  5. "Modern World" — 3:40

2003 reissue bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Dignified & Old" — 2:29
  2. "I'm Straight" — 4:18
  3. "Government Center" — 2:03
  4. "I Wanna Sleep in Your Arms" — 2:32
  5. "Dance With Me" — 4:26
  6. "Someone I Care About" (alternate version) — 2:58
  7. "Modern World" (alternate version) — 3:16
  8. "Roadrunner" (alternate version) — 4:55

Personnel[edit]

Studio production[edit]

  • John Caleproducer
  • Alan Mason and Robert Appere — producers on "Girlfriend," "Modern World," "Dignified and Old"
  • Kim Fowley — producer on "I'm Straight," "Government Center," I Wanna Sleep in Your Arms," "Dance With Me," and alternate versions

Album production[edit]

  • Matthew King Kaufman — compilation
  • Jim Blodgett — co-ordination
  • T. Lubin — assistance
  • G. Horn — mastering

References[edit]

  1. ^ Levy, Joe; Van Zandt, Steven, eds. (2006) [2005]. "381 | Modern Lovers - Modern Lovers". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 5 March 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c d Tim Mitchell, There’s Something About Jonathan, 1999, ISBN 0-7206-1076-1
  3. ^ See
  4. ^ Boston Rock Storybook - Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers
  5. ^ a b Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers LP
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. The Modern Lovers (album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 3 December 2005.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 14, 1976). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ Klein, Joshua (September 14, 2007). "The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  9. ^ The Modern Lovers | Biography | AllMusic
  10. ^ Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers | Official Charts Company

External links[edit]