Thursday, January 24, 2008

PERMANENT RECORDS REMOTE: The Feelies' The Good Earth (1986)

We put our Permanent Records feature on hiatus over at The A.V. Club so of course I find an album I have to write about. The feature will probably be back in some form later on, but I need to say some words about The Feelies' The Good Earth, the New Jersey band's second album. Released in 1986, it followed their debut Crazy Rhythms by six years. Crazy Rhythms is often, and rightly, cited as an influential albums. It jittery, post-punk jangle can be heard in countless subsequent bands from '80s college rock on. But it's The Good Earth that I love. I parted it with it in a cash-strapped CD purge somewhere between high school and gainful employment. I don't know how I could ever have let it go. It's fallen out of print in subsequent years but thanks to eBay and a part-time wholesaler in Thailand I now own a copy again.

R.E.M. was among the bands wearing out their copies of Crazy Rhythms and Peter Buck repaid the favor by producing The Good Earth. The band had a slightly different line-up by then and a slightly different sound. R.E.M. had listened to them and clearly they'd listened back. The Good Earth mixes the jangle and countryside spirituality of early R.E.M. with a Velvet Underground drone but the sound is all its own. Here's a favorite track:

Always a cult favorite, never a popular success, The Feelies signed to Warner Brothers, put out two more albums, then called it a day. I don't have those but I suspect eBay does. But I might wait. The Good Earth is pretty much all I want to listen to right now anyway.


Noel said...

THE GOOD EARTH is my favorite too, though all four are pretty great.

You know, I've got the full discography on CD ... I could IM you the other records if you want them.

Eric Grubbs said...

Didn't the Feelies' singer do a solo record last year? I believe Jim DeRogatis claimed it's as good as the Feelies' best work. I've never really heard these guys.