Monday, November 07, 2005

Song Of the Day, October 22-23, 2005


Green - Gotta Getta Record Out


Green - For You

From the LP Green, Gang Green Records, 1986.

With each passing year I become more convinced that the debut LP by Chicago's Green is worthy of those Mojo/VH1/Spin/ lists of the top 20 or 50 or 100 rock albums of all time:

1) It looks great. Using the tired old punk rock formula of "insouciant ragtag kids standing against brick wall with band name scrawled across top," the cover manages to look exactly like the record sounds. The dimestore mod poses on the back only add to the fun.

2) The record shows a strong grasp of diverse musical sources, from the British Invasion to T. Rex to Motown to Prince to the Jam to every one-shot that a seven-year-old might have heard heard on an AM Radio. And despite their lifelong dedication to their homework, Green sound like nothing else but Green.

3) The songs, all by Jeff Lescher, are great. I wouldn't even be making this argument if they weren't. They seem to have been churned out effortlessly, with an impressive variance in mood and tone. What's interesting is how coverable they are. Nearly every song on it has a classic feel that suggests that like the first Modern Lovers LP, every decent band in the world should be able to play at least haphazard versions of a couple of the tunes.

4) The aforementioned Jeff Lescher, while nowhere near as smooth as Sam Cooke or powerful as Otis Redding, has an abundance of that elusive and precious quality that we call "soul." White teenage soul? Maybe. As if that makes it any less valuable.

5) While some critics have suggested that the extremely primitive production inadequately showcases Lescher's marvelous songs, I'd argue that the no-frills recording actually throws the variety and craft of the songs into sharper relief, while the lack of trendy drum sounds that would tie this record to a certain era ensures that it will always sound fresh and timeless.

Last I checked, the LP was still available at Widely Distributed Records for $10. There is a CD-R version of the record available through No Cigar, but it isn't cheap. Although I admit I haven't done a very good job of keeping up with the band since the early 90s, I'd recommend searching out the White Soul/Bittersweet CD in particular. The band's website has plenty of additional information.

16 Comments:

succotash said...

Amen to all that. After halting efforts to do so as a high schooler in suburban KC, I finally woke up to decent music in Chicago in 1989. Jon says that the album cover looks like the record sounds. Well, Green's early records occupy significant portions of the mental soundtrack I've created for that part of my life.

(Along with many others, of course -- the Walkabouts, to name just one discussed in recent weeks -- featured here).

10:07 AM  
Repoz said...

I yakked with Lescher a while back (he happened onto Baseball Primer when I dropped his band's name on an intro) and he told me the band had just run its course...a damn shame.

As Norton Nork used to say..."Almost all of their vinel is finel"

1:56 PM  
hnklbn said...

Jon,
JUST YESTERDAY.....
I was trying to remember if you had ever put any Green songs on here, or if you were ever going to? I must be psychic or psychotic.
I wonder what you'll put up next? Priscilla?

Greg H. aka

6:51 PM  
Jon Harrison said...

Greg-

Do you remember what the Blow Pops/Green link was?

Jon

7:40 PM  
brando said...

I'm not Greg, but I can field that question.

Mike Jarvis of the Blow Pops toured with Green at one point as a second guitarist.

As for Green, they still do play out occasionally (in fact they played Phyllis' last November, if I recall), and Lescher has been talking about doing some new recordings at a friend of mine's place.

Terrific band, and this is a terrific site! Kudos!

8:59 AM  
mark johnson said...

Wasn't there a Green / Lilacs connection too?

I remember seeing Lilacs open for The Blow Pops in Chicago, must have been circa 91 or 92. The Lilacs played a song with an unbelievably catchy chorus:

Darlin' do you know how much I miss you? / If you were here would you let me kiss you?

Does anyone know the song? I have never heard a recording (if one even exists), but that hook still goes thru my head pretty regularly...

1:23 PM  
brando said...

The Lilacs were fronted by Ken Kurson, who played bass for Green around the "Elaine MacKenzie" years.

He's now a big shot financial guy in NYC, co-wrote Rudy Guliani's book, and even ran (unsuccesfully) for office in New Jersey.

Seriously.

11:58 AM  
hnklbn said...

WOW!!!

1:45 PM  
Larry said...

I remeber walking into the Love Garden nearly ten years ago and Jon just telling me to buy it, emphatically, no questions answered. It's one my faves. Has anyone heard the Lescher/freakwater Gram Parsons tribute album?

11:23 AM  
Ken Kurson said...

"Darlin' do you know how much I miss you? / If you were here would you let me kiss you?"

Thanks for remembering that song. It's called "Have I Told You." I co-wrote it with the great Paul K and we did in fact release it, on a single called "Penelope." The b-side of that record is "Pointless," which might be my very most favorite Lilacs song.

It made my day to see GREEN as the Song of the Day -- on my 37th birthday, no less (Oct 23). Jeff Lescher is among the 15-20 greatest rock singers of all time and a tremendous songwriter, as well.

Ken Kurson, Green alum 86-90

2:47 PM  
Nick said...

I LOVE this record!...can't even remember when or how I found it, and the other ones I tracked down while good didn't do the same things for me.....but this is that ever so rare obscure indie record that's every damn bit as good as the band's most obsessive devotees will tell you it is--fave track: "I Don't Wanna Say No"

4:08 PM  
Aydin Sekili said...

Hi Ken,

Aydin Sekili here. Hope you are well. I'm still in Chicago...married with 3 little ones. Trading index options at the CBOE and things are well. Take care of yourself.

10:10 AM  
Matt Weston said...

Wow...one of the greatest albums in history. Green (the album and the band) changed my life. After years of pestering, I managed to weasel my way into the drummer's chair for a scant six months in 1997. A dream come true. Also enjoyed a brief stint as the Lilacs' drummer -- "Have I Told You" was my fave song to play with them.

I don't run into Green fans very often, but whenever I do they talk about Green in tones of hushed reverence. Seriously.

10:42 AM  
Gary Schoenwetter said...

We're the few and the proud, aren't we? Those that once in a while...while the kids are asleep, put on one of Lescher's brilliant albums and re-live the glory of our (his?) youth and fumble in the dark to find someone, anyone, with whom we can share this passion for a one-of-a-kind songwriter and performer. I was the HS kid that snuck into shows...often toting Jeff's guitar as a roadie...fan...geek.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous said...

I worked with Jeff at Lord & Taylor during the GREEN time. It was the only time I every got on THE LIST or downstairs at the Cubbybear. I hear Green in sooo many "Alternative Bands", i.e; Greenday/Whitestripes. A bit ahead of his time. Jeff, When are you playing the Metro???
Pete Womack

1:18 PM  
Anonymous said...

I remember those guys and those days well. I was there...and I'm married to the fella in the middle of the album cover. That was an awesome time, those songs were outstanding, and while I've followed Green after, esp. some of the LPs after this one, I always hoped Jeff and the band would leave a huge imprint on the world. Glad to know there are some who still feel strongly about their music.

11:33 AM  

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