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Editors’ Notes

By 1988, Jonathan Richman's band was The Modern Lovers only in name; '88 was the final time he trotted out the illusion. The acoustic-trio format, however, is a strength here, keeping things simple and earnest. The songs evoke a more innocent time than the hairspray-and-spandex atmosphere that dominated the late-'80s commercial music scene. The only audience remaining for Richman at this point, beyond hardcore fans, were college radio listeners, who were sometimes baffled by the rudimentary joys of "Dancin' Late at Night" and "When Harpo Played His Harp." The pure, happy exultations in "Gail Loves Me," "I Love Hot Nights," and "New Kind of Neighborhood" were so without reservation compared to the self-conscious emotions of the era's hip underground rockers that, even to this day, Richman's music is hard to pin down. Where was he coming from with these artless affections? "African Lady" belongs to a genre of its own, but what genre? "I Have Come Out to Play" essentially paved the way for twee-rock of all types in the late '80s and '90s.

Customer Reviews

great party record

Great folksy-sounding record that really flies with the up-tempo numbers, "Dancin' Late at Night," "Gail Loves Me," "I Love Hot Nights." Richman can write amazing ballads as well, but the ones here such as "When Harpo Played His Harp," aren't up to his previous masterpieces "Affection" or "That Summer Feeling." Still, this is a toe-tapping record that'll put a smile on your face, great for parties where you don't want the music to blast you out of the neighborhood, and in this world that's a very good thing. And is the record title a nod to former Modern Lover Jerry Harrison, and his band's record "Talking Heads 77?"

Underappreciated Gem

Jonathan Richman really hit his stride in the 1980s. “Jonathan Sings,” “Rockin’ and Romance,” “It’s Time For,” and “Modern Lovers ‘88” are some of Jonathan’s best-realized albums. On these discs Jonathan’s innocence and sense of humor are successfully expressed through fifties and sixties pop music genres. “Modern Lovers ‘88” is the sparest of all with two guitars, vocals, and a floor tom as the chief instrumentation. (“California Desert Party” contains some great nasty sax too.) The California sound is featured in “Dancing Late At Night” and “Circle I.” “When Harpo Played His Harp” (a sixties pop rumba) is Jonathan’s best song about appreciating the little things in life. “I Have Come Out to Play” may be his best childhood nostalgia song: somehow capturing a little boy’s excitement at going out to play after dinner without sounding forced or saccharine. Jonathan fans who also enjoy fifties and sixties party music will love this record.

So Great.

I've Been Listening To This For A While Now, And I Dont Get Why He's So Underappreciated.

Customer Ratings