Monday, August 31, 2009

Pssst: Those bodacious BoDeans

Music was going so many different directions in the erratic Eighties that it was difficult to find something concrete -- an album with staying power from a group that might be around long enough to remember.

How refreshing and cool that a band from my home state swooped in to make an indelible mark. The BoDeans' 1986 debut album "Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams'' may have been the highwater mark for music of this decade. And listening back confirms one thing: the band from Waukesha, Wis., was not going to, like the title of one of its signature songs, "Fadeaway'' quickly into the night.

I was working at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune at the time with a clique of music fans whose tastes ran from punk to early alternative. Among the groups they were introducing me to were smoking Twin Cities staples like Husker Du, the Replacements and Soul Asylum.

I remember being seduced by "L&H&S&D'' on the first listen and wondering what my new homeboy music mates would think of it. Too pop-ish for them, I was sure. But the vocal harmonies of Sammy Llanas and Kurt Neumann were extraordinary, the guitar work was biting, and the sound -- produced by T-Bone Burnett -- was as crisp and exhilarating as the Midwestern fall air we were breathing.

A non-homeboy buddy was hosting a party one night and in the middle of the mayhem we slipped "L&H&S&D'' into the music rotation. It stopped everybody -- even the punk snobs -- in their tracks. They loved the BoDeans, and it turned out they weren't the only ones. Rolling Stone annointed them the Best New American Band.

"L&H&S&D'' is one of those rare albums that you need to keep nearby, because when you need to hear it again -- and you always will -- you don't want to waste any time looking for it. It's a lock to join the growing stable of Personal Six String Sanctuary Touts (PSSST).

Earlier this year Rhino produced a Collector's Editon of "L&H&S&D'' that includes a DVD of a 1985 BoDeans concert at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The video makes it a must-have as well.


  1. Great addition to the list!
    I don't remember that party, which means I probably was there.

  2. Great band, what happened to 'em?

  3. Party was at the Ward compound in South Mpls., across from the "rubber'' store...

  4. Loved "Fadeaway," but found the pop-ish "Still the Night" a great garage band song and lots of fun to get out of the dumps (if you never let go).