Friday, March 12, 2010

1979: Bird Song

Lene Lovich: Bird Song


If you’ve seen my blog, Oliver di Place, you know that I do album reviews. If you check back, you might think that the first review I ever did was of Annabelle Chvostek. But it goes back much further.

I started college in 1979, and in my second semester, I joined the school newspaper as a music reviewer. As I started thinking about this post, I realized something for the first time. As the staffer with the least seniority, I must have been in line for the albums nobody else wanted. Indeed, the image above was waiting for me in the slush pile. And Lene Lovich certainly looks scary. So I don’t know what possessed me, but Flex was the first album I took to review. I opened it up when I got back to my dorm, and found diagrams of calisthenic exercises. What had I gotten myself into? Well, there was nothing for it at that point, so I put the album on. And Bird Song was the first song that greeted me. What was making those weird bird noises? Eventually, I realized that Lovich made those sounds with her voice, unaided by technological trickery, with just a touch of reverb. And I realized that I really liked the album. I still do. Lovich doesn’t sound so strange now, in a world with Bjork in it. And I can trace the lineage of this one back to Yoko Ono’s work in the 60s and 70s. But I loved the fact that Lovich was not afraid to be different. Those are still the kind of artists I look for.

Before I go, let me say a word about those calisthenics, and a final word about that slush pile. Later in the semester, Lene Lovich came to play at our school. She did jumping jacks as she performed, while her pigtails flailed about like weapons. And it didn’t mean anything to me at the time, but her keyboard player was Thomas Dolby. As for the slush pile, I continued to have good luck with it. My next review was of The Tourists; the band included Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox before they left to form the Eurythmics. I discovered ska with reviews of the Specials, Madness, and The English Beat. And finally, I reviewed Tommy Tutone an album before they had their hit with 867-5309 (Jenny).

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