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Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

In 1986, a time when roots rock bands were struggling to sound as lean and scrappy as possible, one of the things that separated the BoDeans from the rest of the pack was their willingness to wear their hearts on their sleeves and fuse a romantic sensibility (albeit one with both feet planted firmly on the ground) with simple but potent guitar-based rock & roll, and they never did it better than on their first album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. On "The Strangest Thing," Sam Llanas ends his litany of different kinds of love with the romance of his Mom and Dad, "Rickshaw Riding" is an unashamedly sentimental paean to a night full of possibilities, and the soulful plea of "Say You Will" finds Kurt Neumann quietly calling up the spirit of a generation of great R&B crooners. But if the BoDeans were four guys with love on their minds, they were also rockers, and the chugging push-and-pull of Neumann's twangy electric leads and Llanas' acoustic rhythm work were a simple but surprisingly powerful combination, and when they locked in with Guy Hoffman's drums and Bob Griffin's bass, they could work magic (and it's still a mystery how a song as gloriously catchy and uplifting as "Angels" failed to become a hit single). The BoDeans were also capable of looking at the tough side of love, such as "She's a Runaway" (a tale of a woman who finally gives some payback to her abusive husband), "Misery" (a funny but bitter kiss-off to an unfaithful girlfriend), and "That's All" (about the dashed hopes of a relationship gone on the skids). While this music was simple at heart, the BoDeans' passion and sincerity gave it strength, and T Bone Burnett's production allowed this band to sound as big as all outdoors. The BoDeans would enjoy greater success down the road, but they never made an album as powerful and satisfying as Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, where their hearts and their guitars were in perfect sync. [Given that Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams was never an especially big seller despite plenty of critical praise, it's surprising but welcome that 22 years after its original release, Rhino Records has reissued the album in a special expanded edition. Disc one features a remastered version of the original album that sounds clearer and more resonant than the previous CD edition, along with six bonus tracks. "Try and Try" is a non-LP B-side, "Turn Your Radio On" is a live recording, and the other four tunes are demos for songs that failed to make the cut for the album; none of this quite lives up to the standard of the rest of the album, but does capture the band in solid and enthusiastic form. Disc two is a DVD preserving a recently discovered videotape of the band playing a club date in Minneapolis about ten months before Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams was released (and when the band was still billing themselves as Da BoDeans). The quality is a bit shaky in spots and the crowd sounds sparse, but the band is earnest and full of fire, and it's interesting to hear how closely the live arrangements matched what would later appear on their debut LP, not to mention the presence of several songs that have never appeared on a BoDeans album. Finally, the booklet includes a short essay from Kurt Neumann about the making of the album and a rather fulsome appreciation by Dave Marsh, who once again proves he can't write more than 500 words without mentioning Bruce Springsteen. For longtime BoDeans fans, this is the deluxe version of the band's classic debut they've been waiting for, and hopefully this glossier package will inspire a few casual observers to give this underappreciated gem a fresh hearing.)


Formed: 1984 in Waukesha, WI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in 1984 by high-school friends Sammy Llanas and Kurt Neumann, the BoDeans mixed Midwestern roots rock with elements of adult contemporary pop, fashioning a sound that earned critical acclaim during the '80s and commercial recognition during the following decade. Llanas and Neumann fronted the group by sharing vocal and guitar duties, while bassist Bob Griffin and drummer Guy Hoffman populated the rhythm section. Although based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the BoDeans began building an audience...
Full Bio
Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (Deluxe Edition), BoDeans
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  • $17.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Arena Rock, Roots Rock
  • Released: May 1986

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