Jonathan Richman – Jonathan Sings!

Morning RC,

Today we have our 2nd in a row American artist – which might be a record, and our 2nd New England born one – which I know is a record.   Today’s album was released in 1983 and was the artist’s 1st as a solo artist. Unlike tuneyards – who basically created with only one other person-this time we’ll get a full backing band.

Jonathan Richman – Jonathan Sings!

Listen to it here:  http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Jonathan+Richman+Jonathan+Sings/74650617

Read about it Jonathan here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Richman#Studio_albums

One year Ago:  We listened to the now rock standard Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You experienced?”

Fun Facts: Always possessing an ardent cult following, Richman has become better known in recent years thanks to a series of appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Another major profile boost was a key part in the Farrelly Brothers’ 1998 film, There’s Something About Mary, where he played half of a two-man Greek chorus that commented on the plot while performing in the framed action itself. He also appeared briefly in a bar scene in a previous Farrelly Brothers film, Kingpin, and performed the song “As We Walk to Fenway Park” for their 2005 comedy, Fever Pitch.

Original Date Assigned: 6/28/12

Seth:

Jonathan Richman – Jonathan Sings!

Preconceptions: My first pick of the season, and I have missed this album. I lost the vinyl in my move to Orlando and I lent the CD to Jesse Irwin in 1998. I haven’t seen it or him since.

Favorite Tracks: Give Paris One More Chance is the reason I chose this album over I, Jonanthan. Not Yet Three is a Springsteen song from a toddler’s POV.

Least Fav: You’re the One For Me is just plain creepy.

Overall: Jonathan Richman wrote Roadrunner, the best Rock & Roll song ever. I am prepared to defend this statement with logic, mathematics, or your choice of weapons at dawn.

His first solo album, Jonathan Sings!, has a playful reverence to 50s rock & roll and celebrates music, romance, and life’s simple pleasures. On This Kind of Music, Richman issues his mission statement (and makes the world’s second most amusing rhyme after “asbestos” & “rest us assured”.) With subjects ranging from a young child’s wonder of his world to nosey neighbors, this album is so unconcerned with being cool it’s almost outsider art. Jonanthan Sings! is a transitional album from his Modern Lovers and isn’t truly a solo album. Later albums would wisely lose the backup girls and focus more on Jonathan and his guitar.

Rating: 4.7
Prelisten Guess: 4.5
S3 to date: +0.2

Extra Credit: Jonathan Richman – Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Her+Mystery+Not+Of+High+Heels+And+Eye+Shadow/4382004

Ali:

Jonathan Richman – Jonathan Sings!
Preconceptions:
I have absolutely no preconceptions about this. I don’t know who Jonathan Richmond is. (I typed that before I went to the Grooveshark link. I’m leaving it as is because it made me laugh.)

Mood:
Pretty good!

After Listening:
Oh good lord. This guy sounds like the singer in There’s Something About Mary if he was suffering from massive allergies. The background girls are irritating. The album was all over the place, and none of it was tickling my fancy. There isn’t a song in this album that is compelling enough to want to add to any playlist.  It feels like Belle(s) & Sebastian took a crap ton of acid and time traveled. I know that I’ve listed several “favorites”, but that’s just like saying “my favorite day of my period” – I don’t really have a favorite one, but parts of them can be nice.

Favorite track/tracks:
Somebody to Hold Me – I liked the chorus, but the verses can f**k right off.
Give Paris One More Chance
The Tag Game – Yes… There are hand claps. YOU KNOW THAT I FALL VICTIM TO THE HANDCLAPPINGS!

Least favorite track/tracks:
That Summer Feeling
The Neighbors

Overall (1-5 stars): 1

Josh:

Jonathan Richman – Jonathan Sings!: 3 stars

Precon: The Cube Monkey guy? 1983 is probably too early for him.

Favorite Track: The Neighbors. Reminds me of FotC.
Least Favorite: Stop This Car

It sounds like Lou Reed doing Oldies standards.
The backup singers strike me as odd. I didn’t think they’d be on every song.
Can’t quite gauge the intended novelty level. Somehow it seems earnest and joking at the same time.
The lyrics are up and down. The stream of consciousness moments are interesting, but sometimes they’re forced too hard to fit a melody.
A fun album in general. Would make for a good outdoor concert, say on the green. Or on a beach somewhere.

Magic the Gathering Card: Standard Bearer

Marissa:

Jonathan Richman – Jonathan Sings!

Preconceived Notions:  Is this the guy who does “Tom Cruise Crazy”? If it is then I’m going with guessing that this is a comedy album

As Listening:
This is not at all what I expected.
The doo-wop feel, the background singers, they’re all great atmosphere.  I’m not certain that I dig the flat voice.
The beginning of The Neighbors sounds like it should have been a Meatloaf song.
I like the acknowledgement of surf rock on “Those Conga Drums” and that it starts out sounding like an attempt to answer the Hawaii 5-0 theme song.
When ‘Stop This Car” came on, all I could think of was “I’d really like to see the John Waters-directed musical this would be in.
“Not Yet Three” is just so odd.
“Give Paris One More Chance”-oh man, is there any city that benefits more from fictional romanticized notions and nostalgia than Paris?  I like that the beat’s finally taken an upswing .
I can’t stop hearing “Too Late To Turn Back Now” while listening to “You’re the One for Me”.

After Listening:
I feel like I should like this more than I actually did.  Which is weird, because there are moments when it reminds me a little of Jens Lekman, probably due mostly to the conversational nature of the lyrics.  But there’s something about his delivery that I just never warmed to.  I’m not sure if it’s the sparseness of the production or the relentlessly monotone tempos, but I kept wishing that there was a step further that his voice or the song would take that never happened.  It’s certainly more fun than not fun, but I felt like I couldn’t get past the feeling that I was listening to good karaoke, which I totally enjoy, but wouldn’t necessarily need a recording of.

Overall: 3.3

Favorite: I guess the one-two punch of “Not Yet Three” because I’ve never heard a song from a toddler’s perspective and “Give Paris One More Chance” more for the danceability than for the schmaltzy subject.  “The Neighbors” is also weirdly fun, as far as songs about gossip go

Least Favorite: “You’re the one for me”

Mike:

Preconceived Notions:  For some reason when I read the title of this album I was sure it was a comedy album in the vein of Jonathan Coulton or something.  Putting the actual list together though I could easily see that wasn’t the case-so I’m in the dark.

After Listening:  So it’s a bit of 50’s retro set in the early 80’s?  I’d use the word “interesting” here if I meant it either as “intriguing” or as “awful”…but it doesn’t quite hit either mark.  Is “quaint” a closer word?  Maybe.  There’s some fun on here to be sure,  there’s some cheesy doo-woop backing vocals sure-but not too offensive, and it’s album that doesn’t solely stick to ballads or swing rock – but rather blends it all in.  Jonathan’s delivery as if he’s performing most of these songs live – giving the band instructions or laughing at times at his own lines-initially gives a warmth to the thing, that although it fades after 3 or 4 songs of it, doesn’t cross into blatantly annoying.   The downside to this album though is the music – in general it’s 50’s played fairly straight, and let’s face it that’s a limiting sonic palate.  Whereas on some songs you won’t mind the many repetitive vocal choruses or the old school rock rhythms – on others you’ll be reminded that literally hundreds if not thousands of artists in history have hundreds if not thousands of very similar songs.

Favorite Tracks –  “That Summer Feeling” –  Perhaps the track that does the best at adopting the 50’s formula to a personal and unique choice.  It’s spaced out very well dynamically – subtle keys, bass lines with pauses – and the swelling of the drums – a gentle mix to mimic the song’s subject.  It shows a sensitivity and an understanding of music that is admirable.
“Stop this Car”-  I like the very transparent humor here, maybe because I’ve known more than one woman with shakey driving habits similar to this – and only one of them was from NJ.

Least Favorite: The Tag Game – This sound would’ve been ok if they cut off about the last min or so where the repetitive level in the lyrics gets to about the breaking point.

Overall 3.12  I sense these guys are better as a party band – like doing a prom somewhere, or a nice outdoor wedding.  Once you take this in the studio though and make a record – some of Jonathan’s personality becomes lost in the formula.  Again, it would be hard to flat out hate this record, there are some good tracks on here.  At the end though, it isn’t particularly engaging enough to make me want to throw it on over say an actual record from that era if that’s what I was in the mood for….in fact, I don’t even know that I’d make an actual choice – as I’ll probably forget Jonathan Sings even exists in time after we stop taking about it.  Like hundreds of summer days that are pleasant enough and pass into your general history….this record has that effect on me.

admin (196 Posts)

Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.


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