Sometimes a review is tough to start. I find myself sitting here trying to think of how I am going to select the right words to create an introduction to the musician or band that I would like to share with the world.
I find this blog entry particularly a little more difficult to start out with not only because I am a huge fan of the musician of the EPs I am about to talk about, but I am equally a huge fan of the label that has put them out.
Blue Arrow Records is not only a brick and mortar staple in Cleveland thanks to their amazing selection of vinyl, music memorabilia, and other vintage goodies, but they are now a record label.
Makes complete sense to me.
I have been a fan of Blue Arrow since they first set up shop in 2009 and think the world of owners Pete and Debbie. Not only do they run one of my favorite stores in my neck of the woods, but they are also quality humans. I am lucky to know them and was floored when they told me they were going to start their own record label and first on the roster was none other than Jonathan Richman.
I adore all things Richman. Chances are if you are reading this, you might too. If you do not, I highly encourage you to check out anything Modern Lovers or just jump into Richman’s solo material. His style is unforgettable and almost always is in the most upbeat approach. Richman always has seemed to put me in a good mood.
This month, Blue Arrow Records is releasing two 7-inch singles by Jonathan Richman including four songs: “O Sun”, Wait Wait”, “Keith” and “They Showed Me the Door to Bohemia”. These are the first releases by Richman in five years.
I need to pause for a second and let you all know that I have been holding off on reviewing these 7-inches until I could literally just down and spin them endlessly next to me. With luck on my side this past Friday, I was able to set up a listening station of sorts by my desktop with the full intention of listening to these releases and reviewing them.
The 7-inches are both beautifully pressed with “Keith”/”They Showed me the Road to Bohemia” in white (33rpm) and “O Sun”/”Wait Wait” in turquoise with light hints of red (45rpm).
“Keith” paid tribute to the one and only Keith Richards. I loved the line Richman said regarding Keith’s style was “not exactly the blues cause it’s sorta European too.” “The Showed me the Road to Bohemia” was a spoken word jam by Richman that was relaxed yet joyless. Richmond can’t always be a ray of sunshine folks. He is human after all.
“O Sun” carried a more vintage beachfront island sound that I really was not expecting but completely loved. It was nothing too technical and quite repetitive, but mysterious like something you would hear in an old school James Bond movie soundtrack. “Wait Wait” really reminded me of the young Richman post-Modern Lovers I had adored for so many years. Plenty of clapping and good times were thrown in this jam with thanks to Juanramon Jimenez, a poet who Richman claimed “helped me express a feeling.”
I know I tend to tell everyone what I like and honestly, that is the whole premise of this little blog I have been holding onto for a while. If can find just one person out there who has not heard of Richman yet and they turn into a fan, then my job is done. I do this because I want to and there is no other reason.
Both 7-inches only have me excited even more for the full length that Blue Arrow Records aims to release this fall. Until then, you can stop in the shop and pick up both copies or click on the album covers below to place your order today at Blue Arrow Records ($10 each + shipping):
I find my posting of this appropriate with the statement that Pete released about Blue Arrow Records and their involvement with Record Store Day. If you have not read it yet, please do. It is a highly well-written discussion about his somber decision to not partake in perhaps the most popular retail event for independently owned record stores.
My thoughts about RSD are not as strong as they once were and I blame the greedy (the labels and the flippers). Where I love to see people standing in line to buy limited pressed releases, I feel it has gone too far and has turned into just another way for big business to make their money as well as shady flippers who throw them up on eBay and make a killing (sometimes even before RSD).
There are too many releases to even count this year and honestly, there were only maybe two that I might have raised an eyebrow about. What I am trying to get at was that I wasn’t excited about this year’s RSD offerings. Hopefully not everyone agrees with me and still will be lining up at their favorite local shop next week.
There may not be new pressings coming out that I give a crap about, but there are stores like Blue Arrow Records with tons of old and previously loved releases that I will happily flip through with hopes of finding a gem.
Don’t dismiss RSD. Remember it is about records, not just the new re-re-re-repressings on an 138 gram glitter-gold pressing with hologram download cards. Go out and support your local record store and find something that you can call your own.