‘One, two, three, four, five, six…’ This is one of my favourite albums. Jonathan Richman is – I think, still – supremely underrated as a precursor to punk and the post-punk/indie scene that emerged throughout the 80s. He was writing and recording these songs as far back as 1971 before they saw the light of day in 1976 when the band was already dissolving (keyboardist Jerry Harrison would go on to ply his skills on guitar in Talking Heads; other band members went on to form/play with Real Kids and The Cars). Jonathan Richman’s ability to knock out these songs with a loose lazy humour made it seem kinda rudimentary and throw-away, (which it kinda is), but there is much passion to be found here. The classic opener “Roadrunner”, bursts out of the starting blocks, displaying his love of The Velvet Underground, and his attempt at writing a “Sister Ray” dirge. And “Pablo Picasso” is another great example of Richman’s droll sense of humour and singular lyricism ‘He could walk down the street and girls could not resist to stare and so, Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole’. “Old World” is one of my big faves, with lyrics like: ‘I wanna keep my place in the old world/And keep my place in the arcane/Coz I, still have parents/And I still love the old world’. There was nothing pretentious. This was just a kid from Boston who wanted to rock-out like his heroes The Velvet Underground and make some noise and have some fun. So he wrote songs about what he knew – and his lyrics just shine in songs like: “I’m Straight”, “Government Center”, “Dignified and Old”. Another fave is “Girlfriend” which begins with: ‘If I were to walk through the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston/Well first I’d go to the room where they keep the Cezanne/But if I had by my side a girlfriend/Well then I could look through the paintings/I could look right through them/Because I’d have found something that I understand/I understand a girlfriend’, and the innocence that pours out may be ironic but its a heartfelt irony, and typified with the chorus of ‘That’s a girlfriend/That’s a G-i-r-l-f-r-e-n/That’s a girlfriend/That’s something I understand’. I find it hard to talk about this album without gushing superlatives, but if you haven’t heard this album, all I can say is: Go get it. This is a life-changer. You’ll wanna start your own band – all it takes is a couple of chords and a Jonathan Richman. The chords are the easy part – finding another Jonathan Richman is the hard part. He’s a one off.
~ DECOY SPOON