Monday, October 10, 2005:

Road Runner: The Modern Lovers and Jr. Walker

Marathon Man screenshot (The White Angel)
The Modern Lovers -- Road Runner
Jr. Walker and the All-Stars -- (I'm a) Road Runner
Jr. Walker and the All-Stars -- Clinging to the Thought That She's Coming Back
Don't mind The White Angel up there; these tracks won't make your jaw hurt.

The Modern Lovers are a party I came to late: I just discovered them a couple of years ago and have yet to look through most of their catalogue. They've done several versions of "Road Runner"; there are two just on their debut re-release (one is a bonus track of the demo) and there's a different version as a bonus track on the Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers rerelease). The Jonathan Richman CD is a bit more complex and contrary than The Modern Lovers' debut; it goes from children's songs to gospel to rock. But this version (and this debut) strikes me as more immediately accessible: punkish rock, occasionally confrontational, leavened with an appreciation for the absurd. All in all it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Jr. Walker and the All-Stars were a Motown group probably best known for their track "Shotgun," a bit of funky white-hot R&B that's just crackling with energy. "(I'm a) Road Runner" is another fairly well-known track from them; this one tells a story in the vein of traditional "walking" blues--a man who shies away from close ties and drifts from one place to the other. This one puts on a strong face about it: he's got his toothbrush and his freedom; what more could he need? The song clips along briskly--no time for sorrows, no time not to swagger.

"Clinging to the Thought That She's Coming Back" is off the flipside to the 45 with "Gotta Hold on to This Feeling." I'm including it here though it's a bit crackly, as I think the charms of the song show through anyway: bassline, organ, sax, swinging delivery with good vibes to spare. The lyrics are about a man burning a candle for his ex, not giving up hope. You can decide for yourself if he should. The track's originally from Jr. Walker's 1969 LP Gotta Hold on to This Feeling/What Does It Take to Win Your Love, which had a re-release on CD some time back that I missed.
[]: The Modern Lovers
[]: Jr. Walker and the All-Stars: Shotgun & Soul
[]: Jr. Walker and the All-Stars: Gotta Hold on to This Feeling/What Does It Take to Win Your Love used, for $70. That purchase should be more fun than an amateur tooth extraction.

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