Tuesday, March 22, 2005

THE FEELIES – Crazy Rhythms CD
My first ever ebay-bought item. Break open the champagne. Did I pay an arm and a leg for this out-of-print doozie? That’s for me to know and you to pester me about. Anyway, in a word: NO. I don’t pay that kinda money for anything, and since it’s rumoured this – along with the Feelies’ other efforts – is/are to be re-released on CD this year some time, I’d be a sucker for dishing out the big pennies… Wait a minute, who in the fugg cares??!! Let’s get to the goddamn music, fer chrissakes…

I heard this album many, many times whilst working at Shock in the mid/late ‘90s. It was part of the Ace Records roster, Ace being the big UK indie which holds the rights to the Stiff back catalogue (hey, these are the trivialities you pick up on whilst working for record companies). It was a disc I liked a lot, myself also being a long-time admirer of the Feelies’ Good Earth LP, but I never bought it. Now I have. It remains quite an anomaly in the history of American independent music. For one, it didn’t even get a US release at the time (1980), an unusual predicament for a Velvets-y agit/avant-pop band from New Jersey. Only roughly a decade later did it get a domestic issue via A & M. The cover, a gawkish photo of the band geeked to the max with a hideous blue background screams but one thing: complete and total commercial failure headed straight for the cut-out bins… possibly to be rescued later by ensuing cult status.

It’s also kind… err… musically confused as to what it wants to be. There’s an unusual bevy of exotic percussion in use from future ‘Ubu man, Anton Fier, lots of skittering rhythms I could imagine various “New Wave” types shaking their asses to in a very white manner at the dawn of that decade (that’s 25 years ago… I guess this is Classic Rock), a weird mix of short, almost punkish numbers mixed up with lengthy jams, and… covers of the Beatles and the Stones. That kinda shit probably didn’t cut the mustard with the more muscled-up baldies of the day, but looking back it’s a pretty unfashionably ballsy move. The Feelies never really broke any musical barriers – they were in essence a “bar band” (actually, that makes them sound horrible: I’ll call them a “club band”) – they simply played with the given forms and fucked with them ever so slightly. God bless ‘em.

I got a pal of mine – let’s call him Robin (for that is his name) – into Caroliner about a year back. Remember those clowns, anyone? I trade label stuff with Ron at RRR and sell Caroliner LPs to the shops around town in return. It’s a pain-in-the-ass way of getting money for your CDs (don’t get me started on RRRon’s outdated commercial practices…), but it has its perks. I bought a pile of Caroliner LPs some time back in ’93, then again in the late ‘90s, and again the last remaining few a couple of years back. I think I now have the lot. One day I’ll actually really sit down and listen to the things. Robin has made it easier for me. So enthused with the world of Caroliner Rainbow Pig In A Blanket (or whatever their full name is this week), he burnt 5 of their albums onto CD and has made some fancy-assed covers for them to give to friends. Since their records are a nightmare just getting out of their art-school-disaster packaging, this has made their music a shiteload more approachable for a lazy a-hole like myself. Thank you.

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