Crazy Rhythms was the very definition of “Square Pegs” in 1980. All of the hipsters were listening to The Clash’s London Calling at the time. But there were a few of us music nerds who found The Feelies.
It was a small, secret club. In fact, I may have been the only member in my high school. But those songs! I still remember the day I bought it, taking a chance based on some reviews I had read. And how blown away I was when I played it the first time.
“There's a kid I know, but not too well, He doesn't have a lot to say”
Those first tap-taps that open Crazy Rhythms are so quiet, I wondered if I had gotten a defective album at first. Then they increased the tempo, and the guitars chimed in. “The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness” builds to an almost anthemic finale. It is a statement of purpose, almost as if to say: “You have never heard anything like this before.”
Indeed, I had not.
As if to perpetuate their claim, song number two is The Feelies first single “Fa Ce-La,” an infectious piece of pop. Then comes “Loveless Love,” a song so impossible to explain, a song so incredible to hear. It is if every moment of all of your favorite tunes were distilled into one great one.
I had gotten lucky this time. Nine times out of ten I got burned when I bought a record based on reviews, before ever even hearing it. The only other time things had worked out was when I sprung for Television’s Marquee Moon. So the two became one of a piece to me, brothers in arms as it were.
There was something about the songs on Crazy Rhythms that defied easy categorization. The twin guitar sounds of Bill Million and Glenn Mercer on songs like “Forces At Work” and “Moscow Nights” were just amazing.
Then there is the Anton Fier workout on the title song. “Crazy Rhythms.” This is where the drummer’s legend was born. Even though this is clearly Fier’s showcase, the guitars sound superb as well.
In fact, every cut on this record is stellar, with the possible exception of the cover of The Beatles’ “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey).” Although some people swear by it, I find the original to be much more compelling.
In any event, Crazy Rhythms is a classic, and is finally being re-issued by Bar/None. In a nice marketing touch, the original LP version is coming out exactly as it appeared in 1980, and includes a download card, which gives fans free online access to bonus tracks.
The five extras on Crazy Rhythms include the single mix of “Fa Ce-La” from 1979, and demo versions of “Moscow Nights” and “The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness.” The two demos feature jazz musician Carla Bley’s vocals for some reason. There are also two live tracks, recorded in March 2009 at a reunion gig.
All in all, this is an excellent package. If you have never heard Crazy Rhythms before, I suggest you take a chance. Yes, based on a reviewer’s opinion. It is a fantastic record.