Is this record worth a spin? Should I buy it? Will it add to or detract
from my credibility? Should I care?
I wish someone could break it down for me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Camper Van Beethoven Live at CBGB's, NYC 03-21-86

                                               NOTE: Live footage from much later show

For me, Camper Van Beethoven were one of the most influential bands of the 80's. Michael Stipe of REM listed his top ten records of 1984 in Rolling Stone and CVB were on his list. I was a big fan of REM at the time and trusted his taste. I found a cassette copy of Camper Van Beethoven's debut record Telephone Free Landslide Victory at my local record store and was blown away, I'd never heard anything like this before. There were bits of punk and garage rock, bluegrass, ska, Western swing, Eastern European gypsy, and Middle Eastern classical music. It was wry and bitingly satirical, with David Lowery's spoken-word surfer dude vocals punctuating a devil may care attitude. It really epitomized the California slacker mentality of my imagination. I finally got to see them in 1988 at the now-defunct City Gardens in Trenton, NJ during their Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart tour, when they had added Zeppelin-style monster riffage to their arsenal, and it solidified their place in rock's pantheon for me. This show, in support of their 2nd record II/III, leans heavily on material from those first two records, but includes a preview of material from their third self-titled release in the form of "The History of Utah",  as well as a couple covers, Black Flag's "Wasted" (which appeared on CVB's first record), and Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive", which would also appear on their 3rd album. The band blazes through a 45 minute set here, appeasing the punk gods of CBGB's in the process.

Buy this record if you wanna trace the roots of indie music and maybe draw some inspiration from it.

Find more live CVB here: www.archive.org/details/etree

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