The 80s saw some absolute drek, a few marvels, and a buncha 'tweeners, but the Feelies were a band that existed in the cracks. When you listen, or re-listen, to this reissue of their debut, you understand why. It has the undercurrent of a plethora of influences and contemporaries: Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, Ultravox, Durutti Column, and so on. What was magical about the group was its compositional approach, which was a strange kind of pop hybrid of shoegaze, a way of building the melody repetitively until it gained a life thoroughly unexpected. Then the Fripp influence made itself felt (listen to the lead in Fa Ce-La, which blends a King Crimson wail with the noiseuring of the Eno collaborations) and you hadda mutter "What the hell?" in perplexed delight. You never really knew what to expect next.
The group was unapologetically a nerd band in the same way the Talking Heads were and just as enterprising. Not for them was the standard 1-2-3-repeat of pop. The gents were interested in stretching, psychedelicizing, and distorting, though not in the usual overdriven manner. That was for rivetheads, The Feelies were suburban norms with twisted heads. They prowled the sidewalks of a Riverside City that intersected with Fischer Z, Tin Huey, and the more experimental poprocksters.
The packaging for this and *The Good Earth* (here) is a format that's seeing an upswing, one I hope to hell all the labels will adopt: a gatefold LP miniature with history booklet and classy art direction. I'm so fucking tired of the cheesy jewel case era, less irritated with the plastic-paper hybrids (with glued-in tray), but very happy with this kind of product. It's much more like the 70s heyday when the entire commodity mattered, something you really felt like picking up and enjoying as a piece of art in and of itself. It's also much greener environmentally, and, thus, big ol' humongous accolades to Bar/None and Coyote Records for the decision.
Oh, and wait until you hear The Feelies'—named, by the way, after the futuristic 'movies' of the future in Huxley's Brave New World—version of the Beatles' Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and my Monkey). They tear it apart, rev it up, folk it down, and mutate the crap out of the song without ever losing the buzz or substance.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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