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Cinema Verite

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Album Review

Probably the greatest rock release from 1985 that almost no one has ever heard, Cinema Verite is a simply fantastic album. Blending everything from British Invasion panache and glam influences to punk energy and back again, its cult legend was established by L.A. DJ legend Rodney Bingenheimer. He played "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" to death on his show and created a sizeable following for the New Jersey band in Southern California. It's no surprise why: "Anything, Anything" simply smokes, a rave-up for the modern day that starts with a blasting riff before hitting a high-speed punch that doesn't stop, while singer John Easdale details the highs and lows of a relationship with a breathless yowl. There's much more to Cinema Verite than that song, though, as even a casual listen demonstrates. Guitarists Mr. E Boy and Peter Wood distill the kick of performers like Keith Richards, Mick Ronson, and Mott the Hoople-era Mick Ralphs into a hot-wired combination, while rhythm section Chris Carter (bass) and Jesse (drums) hit the beat with heart and talent. Add in keyboardist Theothorous Athanasious Ellenis for final flair and the results are jaw dropping. "Scenario," for instance, is the greatest song the Psychedelic Furs never wrote, with a chugging beat, cut-to-the-chase solos, and Easdale's delicious Dylan-into-Ian Hunter-via-Bowie vocals creating the definition of energetic melancholia. Speaking of Bowie, there's a fantastic cover of his "Candidate," the freaked-out psychosis fully intact, not to mention a nicely dissipated take on the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale." Add in everything from the anguished kick of "Questions?" and the building explosion of "Some Crazy Dame" to the concluding elegance of "Emerald City," and this isn't a cult classic, but classic, period. Rhino's welcome reissue in 1995 tacked on eight bonus tracks, including demo takes and sparer, nervous early singles, and two extensive essays celebrating both the band and this wonderful record.

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Wayne, NJ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Blending hard rock wallop, alternative rock smarts, power pop songcraft, and punk rock urgency, Dramarama was a band who seemed on the verge of a major commercial breakthrough several times during their 11-year career. Puzzlingly, it never arrived, though the band developed a potent following in their native New Jersey as well as the West Coast; their almost-hit, "Anything Anything (I'll Give You)," was cited by L.A.'s KROQ-FM, arguably America's most influential alternative rock outlet, as the most...
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Cinema Verite, Dramarama
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