Detail of a photo illustration titled "Tree Hugger" by Frances McLaughlin-Gill, originally printed in Glamour Magazine, March 1949
I bought the Feelies' debut album Crazy Rhythms in 1993, after reading about the band in Gina Arnold's book Route 666. The book was marketed as a cash-in on Nirvana's success, but it was actually a pretty decent history of American college rock, which was what I needed at the time. Arnold's book introduced me to the Hoboken scene of the late '70s and early '80s, populated by nerdy new-wavers like the Feelies and the dB's. I had high expectations when I first listened to Crazy Rhythms, but I only listened to it a couple times before shelving it - I liked the songs well enough, but something about the format of the album just bugged me. The CD was mastered at a very low volume, for one thing. A few of the songs started with several seconds of silence, while others had slow, quiet fade-ins that were hard to hear. There was a lot of space between the songs on the album, and it didn't work for me.
It's kind of too bad that I didn't become a big fan of this album, though, because there's a lot in the songs that appeals to me. The opening track "The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness" came up on the Jukebox today, and I'm loving the gradual-building tension and the interplay of the two guitarists. The guitars' super-clean sound was supposedly achieved by plugging them directly into the mixing board without using an amp or mic, and they sound really good. One key part of the Feelies' appeal is lost on me, though - I know everyone loves Anton Fier's drumming, but it doesn't do much for me.
I can't help but think a better-mastered version of this record would impress me a lot more - coincidentally, Bar/None Records is re-releasing the Feelies' first two records next Tuesday, and I hear that these new versions sound really good. At the very least, I'm going to pick up their second album, The Good Earth, which I've never heard but always heard good things about.
"The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness" by the Feelies