I, Jonathan by Jonathan Richman:
Any of us who could be considered a music fan (nerd) can surely point to their muse; one person who changed everything with a simple mixtape, or album suggestion. Sure, there are many such interactions in all of our lives but sometimes one person ends up planting a seed in our musical taste that blossoms into a whole personal musical frame of mind. Well, not to beat a dead horse here but, mine was this one girl who got me into The Smiths and then vanished from my life. I got into her car and she had Louder Than Bombs playing and this little gift of music led me to an entire world of music I'd never heard of before (I swear this "Overlooked" feature is not going to always be just some personal 'Six degrees of Smithseparation'). More on topic - that very same girl came back into my life some four years later and this time when I got into her car she was listening to I, Jonathan. As soon as I heard "Velvet Underground" I fell in love with what I was listening to and this album became a big part of my life.
I, Jonathan is a bare bones pop rock record that waxes nostalgic and makes for perfect party music. Sure, a few years after this was released Richman found himself some fame by appearing in a few movies and many people know him from the Modern Lovers but I've found that this particular record (which also happens to be his best in my opinion) is vastly underrated and overlooked. You may be familiar with "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" but do you know the other songs on here? You should.
Ably assisted on low-tech instruments by various pals and offspring and recording in a California basement, Richman hits peak form on the casually wonderful and all- original I, Jonathan. With infectious enthusiasm, sloppy charm and the topical eclecticism of his best mid- '80s work, Jojo rejoices about such diverse subjects as the superiority of gay nightlife ("I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar"), little fishies (the electric surf instrumental "Grunion Run"), skydiving ("Tandem Jump," complete with sound effects), the changing nature of house parties ("Parties in the U.S.A.") and one rock'n'roll group he admires ("Velvet Underground"). As a bonus, I, Jonathan reprises 1983's wistful reminiscence "That Summer Feeling" (from Jonathan Sings!, itself given a second chance the following year, with the addition of the previously UK-only "The Tag Game" as a bonus track) in a sweetly floating acoustic rendition that gains resonance from the passage of another decade in Richman's life.
A sample in the form of a video? You got it:
"I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" (WMV)
Previous Overlooked Albums from the 90's:
#1 - Saturnalia by The Wedding Present
#2 - The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers
#3 - This is Our Music by Galaxie 500
#4 - Dusk by The The
#5 - Fantasma by Cornelius
#6 - New Wave by The Auteurs
if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the 90's
1st version of their list