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The Feelies: A Post Punk Sermon in 5 Paragraphs

When Duncan first rang me up to propose I do this column the idea of it was to present for your enjoyment tales of the semi known to the completely unknown legends of the music world; underground, would be overground and just plain otherground. Artists who often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by being ahead of their time, poorly behaved, drug addicted, antisocial, anti-careerist, anti-mainstream anti-whatever you got.

The band I wish to bring to your attention this month don’t really fit into any of these categories – they had a long career, sold lots of records, and toured major venues supporting their buddies REM. As far as I know none of the members had terrible drug addictions or were renown for outlandish tour histrionics. This band (The Feelies) are being brought to your attention this month not because of the album that made them famous (The Good Earth) or the fact that they know Michael Stipe but because of the album they made six years earlier in 1980 that is so goddamn beautiful that the angels whistle tunes from it as they journey to earth to intervene in human affairs; an album that draws together so many threads of music styles to create an almost speed metal amalgam of the Velvet Underground chug and melodicism, highway inspired Americana, NYC proto and post punk that is emotionally engaging, catchy as hell, and very psychedelic. It’s also an album that is so rare and hard to find that as I type this a vinyl copy is climbing to over $50.00 US (nearly $70 NZ) with three hours to go! Why do folks want to spend over $70 NZ plus postage for a hunk of twenty year old 2nd hand vinyl? Because they have heard it and they know it’s awesome and they HAVE TO HAVE IT!

OK I have written 270 words and I haven’t mentioned the title. The album is called Crazy Rhythm. What does it sound like really you ask? Are you just hyping this record just to entertain yourself / collect a cheque/ make people jealous that you have heard something that they haven’t? No. I am writing this because it’s now available on CD and now is your chance to get a copy! For this column only I am the Crazy Rhythm prophet and I am standing on my conceptual wind swept hill, shouting to the heavens, LETTING THE PEOPLE KNOW!

In a nutshell it sounds like VU/Televisionesque interwoven guitar action over genius drumming and percussion (the drummer was ex-Pere Ubu…) with semi nerdy Jonathan Richmond/Lou Reed vocals on top drawing it all together and of course it’s all played super fast – faster then Motorhead – I’m talking fast. And then there are these strange gaps of silence. You hear maybe three great songs in the row and then WHAM nothing. For ages. You get tense, waiting.. still nothing… and then you relax thinking the album is over and then suddenly the music stirs from your speakers and WHAM they’ve got you again.

Anyway this description does not do it justice, I mean it can’t – you are reading words and if you want to hear the music you have to listen to the album. Go listen people!

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