Thursday, February 14, 2008


For Modern Lovers everywhere.

I recall first hearing Jackie Leven when he was frontman for Doll By Doll on the LP "Remember" in 1978. I bought the 45 from it, "The Palace of Love", but to my eternal annoyance decided to forgo laying down the readies for the album. I'm unsure whether it's been reissued on CD, but for a long time it was sadly out of print.

Jackie Leven's lyrics seem at times to have come from the same ether crossroads as another unholy outsider, Roky Erickson, except Leven's rich barritone masks the message in a velvety comforting healing placebo which elevates his songs into a different realm entirely. There is the spectre of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff living shadowy in his words, i think, but his voice is full of a gentle love which makes him surprisingly appropriate for a Valentine's Day outpouring of tender passion coupled with formidable restraint.

From Wicki:
"Born in 1950 into a Romany (Roma) family, Jackie Leven spent his childhood and teenage years clearly marked out as an outsider in the clannish, insular world that was Fife, Scotland at that time. Although Scottish himself, neither of his parents were from the area - his father was an Irish Cockney, his mother was from a large Northumberland (Geordie) family, and adapting to existing cultural norms was a hard, if not formidable task for such incomers."

Jackie initially got involved in the music business in the late 60s, and recorded his first album, "Control", in 1971 under the nom de plume, John St. Field, which i suppose had a suitably folksy ring to it at the time. I didn't come across this release until recently, stumbling across it on another excellent blog: "Rambler's Place". The entire album has been digitally remastered and re-released on Jackie's own label, Cooking Vinyl, and - appropriately enough- the recording is especially close to his heart it seems. His music hasn't changed drastically in the past forty years or so. And that's definitely for the common good.

Lest i shoot myself in the foot and spend the rest of the day in A&E (that's ER to those of you living in the U.S.) allow me to cut my ramblings short and point you instead to the man's music directly. Think of Mr. Cohen and Van the Man fighting it out in a burlap sack. Then add a syrupy spoonful of...

Fuck it, just listen and let your toes gently curl. Saint Judas or Valentine, take your pick. I love you, Rosa.

Here's a twinset from his 1971 debut, released under the pseudonym of John St. Field. And a jewel from his 1997 celtic classic, "Fairy Tales for Hard Men". Lay down your swords, lovers...

download: JACKIE LEVEN: MANSION TENSION from "Control" LP (Cooking Vinyl) 1971 by John St. Field.

download: JACKIE LEVEN: SOFT LOWLAND TONGUE from "Control" LP (Cooking Vinyl) 1971 by John St. Field.

download: JACKIE LEVEN: SAINT JUDAS from "Fairy Tales For Hard Men" LP (Cooking Vinyl) 1997 by Jackie Leven.

And, just because it's Saint Valentine's Day, and i want to lift the mood a little (as well as contribute something to tie-in with my romantic reworking of the Modern Lovers' 1977 release featured here pictorially!) here's Jonathan Richman and his slightly lesser known "Roadrunner (Once)". The flip side, of course, was a sizeable hit here in the UK, peaking at Number 11 in the National Charts. Released in 1977 on Beserkley Records, but recorded - I think - back in 1974. And, just to set your pulse racing a little, the record which shook things up more than a little here back in 1976. Phew!

download: JONATHAN RICHMAN: ROADRUNNER (ONCE) 7" (Beserkley) 1977 [BZZ1] UK

download: THE DAMNED: NEW ROSE 7" (Stiff) 1976 [BUY 6] UK

posted by ib

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