Richman, Jonathan: I, Jonathan LP
Craft Recordings releases I, Jonathan – the 1992 lo-fi masterpiece from singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman – on vinyl for the very first time! I, Jonathan is a standout title from the offbeat artist's solo catalog and features such fan favorites as "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar," "Parties in the U.S.A." and "That Summer Feeling." Originally released on Rounder Records, I, Jonathan is among several special reissues that will help commemorate the legendary roots label's 50th anniversary. Hailed for his authentic storytelling and candid observations about life, Richman holds a unique place in modern musical history. The artist first emerged in the '70s as the quirky frontman of the Boston proto-punk group, The Modern Lovers. Heavily inspired by the Velvet Underground, Richman and his bandmates soon built a cult following and garnered interest from a variety of record labels. While the founding members of the group disbanded in 1974, Richman relocated to the West Coast, where he assembled a new lineup (re-christened as Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers) and moved away from the harder, electric sounds of his earlier days. By the late '80s, however, when he signed to Rounder, Richman was primarily a solo act. 1992's I, Jonathan marks Richman's fourth studio album as a solo artist and stands as one of the defining records of his career. While Richman made his return to a full-band setting in this album – engaging a variety of his musical friends to lend their talents – the songs' arrangements remain beautifully sparse. Strongly influenced by vintage rock 'n' roll, Richman's catchy, lo-fi melodies are bolstered by handclaps and vocal harmonies, while his lyrics are simultaneously candid, charming, naïve and wise. Highlights include "Velvet Underground," in which the artist pays tribute to his musical heroes, and wonders out loud about their song "Sister Ray." In "Parties in the U.S.A.," Richman mourns the fact that nobody gathers for beach or block parties in the modern era of TV and stereos. "Twilight in Boston," meanwhile, finds Richman recalling his many "Lonely walks in the twilight" around his hometown, walking past the city's Public Gardens, the iconic swan boats, Beacon Street and Fenway Park. Perhaps the best-known song, however, is the exuberant "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar," in which he sings about the joys of letting go and dancing without the fear of uptight onlookers. Richman performed the song on Late Night With Conan O'Brien – becoming the show's second-ever musical guest (following Radiohead). He would continue to make appearances on the popular variety show for years to come. While Richman certainly had a fervent following of fans prior to I, Jonathan, the release brought him greater exposure and has become a standout title in his impressive catalog.