From the Vaults / Record Bulletin

The Modern Lovers – “Live”

modern lovers liveTHE MODERN LOVERS – Live (Beserkely ’77): Live show released in ’77, not a year after the unearthed punk masterpiece The Modern Lovers hit shelves after being stowed away for half a decade, so all I can wonder is what it must’ve been like to be hip enough to know that record and show up to the gig only to find the one schnook remaining from the original Modern Lovers lineup—frontman/guitarist and eternal manchild Jonathan Richman—not rehashing new classics like the propulsive “Roadrunner” or wickedly funny “Pablo Picasso” but instead zipping around the stage going “I’m a little airplane now/Wangity-wang, wangity-wang/I’m a little airplane now.” Nevertheless, fans of Richman (but not necessarily the Modern Lovers) can only find three of these songs elsewhere beyond comps—“Ice Cream Man” and “Egyptian Reggae” on Rock ‘N’ Roll With the Modern Lovers and “Hey There Little Insect” on Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Worth it? Consider the following: The album’s not a snapshot of a protopunk’s transition into postpunk so much as it is an ex-punk’s devolution into children’s music, Richman gets into an argument with an audience member who insists he’s wearing the same shirt from the previous night’s performance, and good ol’ Jonathan personifies both an airplane and a dinosaur. Four of the songs have “little” in the title. And he fakes out the audience with multiple false endings with giggling glee on “Ice Cream Man”—for eight friggin’ minutes. B PLUS

Related:

Jonathan Richman – Having a Party With Jonathan Richman (Cheree ’91): A MINUS
Jonathan Richman – Surrender to Jonathan! (Vapor ’96): B PLUS

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