US - New Jersey - Full Moon 167 - 04/28/10
The Feelies: Crazy Rhythms
Following up our retroscope series of 2006 and 2007 - here's the New Speakers' corner! Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents
from the historic shelves/vaults of rock. This moonth we're setting the Lunar spotlight on a soon to become 30 year old low-voiced, yet intense sounding rhythm
Last September The Feelies performed their 1980 classic Crazy Rhythms live during the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series. Oh, how I wished I could've been present... Anyway, this classic album was reissued (along with the brilliant follow-up, The Good Earth, originally released in 1986) last October by Domino Records. Deluxe packaging, with bonus tracks. But, also sober re-issues on quality vinyl. A must have for all lovers of so called indie rock. This April marks Crazy Rhythms's 30th birthday.
The Feelies formed in Haledon, NJ, in 1976, and disbanded in 1992. The classic Feelies line-up - Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman, Brenda Sauter, and Stanley Demeski - reunited in 2008 (their first show since 1991), for a 4th of July gig at Battery Park, New York City, opening for Sonic Youth. So, what's with the Feelies, then? The band looked like a bunch of geeky nerds at the time (well, several others did that as well...), and never sold great numbers of records. Yet, they're one of those bands of great influence. Hailed by critics, cited by artists (R.E.M., f.i. And, Peter Buck produced The Good Earth).
Crazy Rhythms hold 9 tracks, presenting low-voiced, yet intense, sparkling, elegant guitar-rock. From the opening "The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness", to the closing title track, there's a nervousness and craziness following the journey through the album. The staccato-ness and frantic, percussive rhythm craze trance of Crazy Rhythms, raise the temperature and the intensity of album. Here are 8 originals, plus a cover song: a frantic version of The Beatles' "Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)". Crazy Rhythms's key-track and masterpiece is "Loveless Love", where Mercer and Million's guitars interweave the most shimmering, bright pop landscapes. Mercer's dry voice, as well as parts of their music, also points backwards to the Velvet Undeground. "Forces at Work", "Original Love", and "Raised Eyebrows" are also goldies from the Feelies catalogue, proving that the Feelies were one of the most important bands from their time. During their time they frequently performed (often on national holidays) at Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ - a tradition another band, Hoboken's Yo La Tengo, has taken over.
Feelies' third album, the smashing Only Life, appeared only two years after The Good Earth, in 1988. Then, a fourth and final record, Time for a Witness, saw the light of day in 1991. Not bad, but a bit disappointing nevertheless.
Also worth checking - all the side-projects, or new band projects including members of the Feelies: the Trypes, Yung Wu, Wake Ooloo, Speed the Plough, Wild Carnation. Also worth mentioning: Million and Mercer composed the score for Susan Seidelman's film Smithereens (1982). In Jonathan Demme's film Something Wild (1986) The Feelies appear as the band The Willies. Anton Fier quit The Feelies to join the Lounge Lizards. He then joined Pere Ubu for a short time, before forming the Golden Palominos. Stanley Demeski joined the fab Luna.
Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen