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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Music Review: The Real Ramona


Throwing Muses' untitled first album (left), which I have and treasure on vinyl and CD, has had a furtive history. The band was the first American group signed to the then-white-hot English label 4AD, and Kristin Hersh's songwriting, like Thelonious Monk's piano-playing, arrived fully formed (as a friend once put it, "she's an 'is-type' artist, not a 'growth-type' artist"). The album was arguably the most seismically significant debut since Dylan's—genuinely life-changing for many people, many of whom were women. But it was never released in America—has not been to this day—although you can find all ten of its songs on a Rykodisk archive CD called In A Doghouse, grouped with an early EP and some demo tapes once famous as bootlegs, in murky, bottom-of-a-[wishing]-well sound.

That sort of thing is fine with "just music," but great albums are holistic artistic creations that deserve to be respected as having an intended sequence and arc, a defined beginning and end. To have the untitled debut relegated to such treatment (while better, I suppose, than if it were not available at all)—well, it's a tawdry fate for a record that ought to be celebrated as one of the artistic high points of the 1980s....

READ ON

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

8 Comments:

Blogger Hoainam said...

Mike, your varied range of interests never fails to surprise me. What are you, some sort of Every-Man?

8:32 PM  
Blogger Dr Hiding Pup said...

I've got all of Throwing Muses on CD. If you like, also consider everything by Belly and Tanya Donnelly's latest solo album, Whiskey Tango Ghost.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"What are you, some sort of Every-Man?"

I think that's spelled "dil-et-tante."

(g)

--Mike

10:35 PM  
Blogger marlof said...

Thanks for putting a broad smile on my face today with this subject. I still wear the T-shirt of The Real Ramona tour at times. It has seen better times, but then again, so have I. The music to me is timeless.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

LOVED the first album when it came out and I'll still find the phrase "like a pigeon on a tire" floating through my head on occasion. Back then I'd basically buy anthing that was on 4AD.

The music was always at least interesting, and the entire catalog had incredible graphic design on the covers.

Joe Sawicki

3:12 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Joe,
Do you happen to remember the 4AD sampler? It was called "Lonely Is An Eyesore" (I think also a line from a Throwing Muses song) and it was one of the all-time great compilation albums--more like a really well done mixed CD than a sampler. (I even have THAT on both vinyl and CD! (g)).

--Mike

3:50 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

"Lonely is as lonely does
Lonely is an eyesore
The feeling describes itself"

Yup, vinal and CD as well.

The first track from Colorbox was in the list of songs played at my wedding in 2000, along with a couple from the Wolfgang Press. My favorite comment was when one of my wife's friends said, "This stuff is great and I've never heard any of it."

Someplace (I hope) stashed away in a corner of the house somewhere is the package of 12 postcards from 23 Envelope.

I can already see myself trying to convince my now three year old child that, "really, your Dad was cool before he got old."

Joe

8:27 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"I can already see myself trying to convince my now three year old child that, 'really, your Dad was cool before he got old.' "

Joe,
Give up now! (My son is 14 and I could not be any less cool...although, in fairness, it's been a long time since I tried.)

--Mike

8:30 PM  

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