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....
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON