Tuesday, September 17, 2013

40 Year Itch: JoJo Breaks Up With Electricity

The Modern Lovers were so far ahead of their time, by the time anybody "got" their Velvet Underground meets the Boy Wonder dynamic, the band's leader was already heading in another direction.

    It is the Fall of 1973. Based on 1972 demos like,  "Roadrunner" and "Pablo Picasso",  recorded under the supervision of John Cale, Warner Brothers signs The Modern Lovers. That should be great news for singer Jonathan Richman, bassist Ernie Brooks, future Talking Head Jerry Harrison and future Car David Robinson. 

    But the band is in no mood to celebrate. During a residency at the Inverurie Hotel in Bermuda, Richman discovers the joys of acoustic music as played by Calypso bands. Richman sings about that life changing period on Having a Party 's  "Monologue About Bermuda".

Richman no longer wants to play electrified rock and roll. It didn't sound right and it isn't good for the planet.

Drummer David Robinson told Spin Magazine

Jonathan was obsessed and we couldn't talk him out of it. He wanted to play acoustic on street corners and at rest homes  and I was supposed to play a rolled-up newspaper by banging it against my fist. I was the first to leave.

Sensing trouble, Warners cuts the band which soon breaks up. In 1976 Beserkley Records releases the Cale produced demos as The Modern Lovers. Critics go gaga. Eventually so do I. But Richman isn't coming back to amplification. He's busy singing about little insects and martian martians.

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