Monday, April 7, 2008


Camper Van Beethoven - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (3/21/86) Part 1
Camper Van Beethoven - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (3/21/86) Part 2

WORT, 89.9 on your FM dial, Madison's "Listener Sponsored Radio" - I owe them a huge debt. After my older brothers, they introduced me to so much music over so many years. Mike Rock and the extraordinary Harry Rag hit me right between the ears so many times my brain is permanently bruised. Thanks, guys!

Anyway, for a year or two way back when, every weekday afternoon at 3pm, whichever DJ was currently on-air would play one side of a new LP, the next side the following day. Whenever possible, I was sitting alone somewhere with my battered old Panasonic radio (an early 70s relic, with a very rare built-in cassette recorder/player!) to wrap myself around some new sounds. Sometimes, if I had a blank tape, I'd try and record. (I've still got one tape somewhere of an afternoon WORT show from 1983 or '84. If I can find it, maybe I'll put it up here).

One day the DJ sounded pretty confused. Had no idea what to say about the new album, couldn't describe it, had trouble with the name of the band and the album, but played Side One anyway. You've probably guessed now, but I was in love before "Lassie Went to the Moon" was over. I'd never heard anything like it before. (Was there anything like it before?) My head was spinning and I couldn't wait to hear side two. Maybe I went downtown that same day or had to wait anxiously until the weekend, but I finally got to Paradise Records, my then favorite store, and found this beautiful thing, Telephone Free Landslide Victory by Camper Van Beethoven.

If you've seen the original LP, you know I really mean beautiful. A letter-press edition by Bruce Licher of Independent Project Press, it's high-order psychedelic eye-candy. Maybe the best album cover of the 1980s? I was afraid to touch it, but I had to have it. (This was my first exposure to the world of letterpress editions in any format, an art I've grown to love. As a bibliophile I'm always looking for letterpress...sounds like a song, eh?)

I saw Camper Van the next summer at O'Cayz Corral, with my friend Mark who was back from his first year at MIT (smartest fellow I've ever met - full ride to MIT - quite a guy!). We balanced precariously on the bench against the wall to see better, trying not to fall down as the crowd surged around us. It was a night of great feedback and great beauty. Mark grinned ear to ear the whole show. Mark wasn't the world's biggest grinner, so I knew it was good.

This one's for Mark.


NOTE: (You can also get this show and others at the Live Music Archive. I had it ripped and upped before I thought to check.)

Now playing: Giant Sand - Change Is Now
via FoxyTunes

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