Friday, May 26, 2017

Gold : Gold Town

Tommy Keene : Gold Town

    In 1986, a year that jangly guitars were still all the rage on college radio stations like mine, Washington D.C.'s Tommy Keene released one of the year's finest power pop albums. Songs From the Film was Keene's major label debut. Produced by Beatles audio engineer Geoff Emerick, it's a collection of straight ahead tunes that grow on you ten, twenty, even thirty years later. 

   I caught Keene's act from the back of the 9:30 Club in his hometown a year or two earlier and I wasn't impressed. From the back of the room, he looked like Alan Thicke. In my hometown of New Orleans, the Jesuit owned TV station had replaced David Letterman with Thicke's show Thicke of the Night. We hated Alan Thicke. So that counted as strike one. Keene's reedy voice reminded me of Let's Active's Mitch Easter who seemed to be constantly replacing female bandmates taller than him. Strike two. And the songs may have sounded too straight forward to a guy like me, who considered himself a music snob. Strike three.

 Then, in 1984, Tommy Keene released a pair of EPs on the Dolphin label that sounded great with the kind of songs I liked to play on my college radio show ( Back in the USA MC5, Marshall Crenshaw, the dBs, R.E.M., The Byrds, The Beau Brummels,  the garage rock bands from the Nuggets Compilation, you get the idea). One of them, Run Now, produced by T Bone Burnett and Don Dixon, topped the Village Voice Pazz and Jop EP poll and is now included on the Songs From the Film CD.

  Keene never made it big. But take a listen to  "Gold Town" and you'll be left wondering why.

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