Where the Feelies debut (here) had been an exotic mixture of rock / pop / experimental / WTF, The Good Earth was exactly what the title implied, a lot closer to the sound of the non-metropolitan rural bands. It still vaulted up into electric heights, as in the middle eight of The High Road, but not nearly so often and overall was a lot calmer, more traditional. Thus, there's an REM (and even Love and Rockets) feel as well—not all that surprising when it's understood that Peter Buck co-produced the release.
The band had been on hiatus for...well, quite a while—eight years in fact—then reconsidered its direction and came back as a five-piece (previously a quartet), basic songwriting team of Glen Mercer and Bill Million the only remaining founders. Gone are the progrock overtones and Ultravox cold waving elements, replaced by an echo of The Textones and country rock scene mixed with folk and the ever-present Velvet Underground influence (Slipping [Into Something] could've been inserted into a VU box set of unreleased recordings and few would've noted anything amiss). Nonetheless, the differences between Crazy Rhythms and The Good Earth are quite marked until it comes to the searing passages of both.
As with Rhythms, the packaging is first rate: the same gatefold miniature LP with booklet and professional art direction. It's the sort of treatment a re-issue should receive. And it needs to be noted that this release was so well received that the group got back together recently to open for Sonic Youth, their first live performance since 1991. Rhythms had received its recognitions (rated #49 of the Top 100 LPs of the 80s by Rolling Stone, and #49 among the best alt records of all time by Spin) but Good Earth was warmly accepted as well and when a group like Sonic Youth invites you to gig with them, you know the regard proffered is genuine.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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