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The Scenics - "Jonathan Richman" (Supreme Echo & Dream Tower Records)

23 May 2024

Phot by Michael Feldman

“The last week of High School, I hand wrote a sign. “Are you tired of being in bands that aren’t doing anything different? Do you want to hear something new?”

In the summer of 1976, Andy Meyers posted that sign at a Toronto music store where Ken Badger worked. Ken had recently stopped playing with an abusive Lounge singer, deciding “professional is delusional. I want to be totally immersed in the music that I love & am writing….fuck ‘career’.”

Ken responded to the ad and The Scenics were launched. From day one they shared a tight musical connection as they stepped into the new musical landscape opened up by artists like Patti Smith & Pere Ubu, the Velvet Underground & Roxy Music.

Four months later The Scenics’ New Part in Town album was recorded with drummer Mike Cusheon. It is sizzling 1976 protopunk— the intricate interplay of Television meets the surging urgency of the New York Dolls. It includes nine Scenics originals and a nine-minute take on Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel.” Meticulously remastered from the original analog tapes, the LP includes a sticker and a booklet that features photos and an 8000 word essay by Andy Meyers and Ken Badger.

The Big Takeover is pleased to premiere the video for the song “Jonathan Richman,” which leads off the Scenics LP. Songwriter Andy Meyers says: “Jonathan had such an intriguing persona on that first Modern Lovers LP. Our song is an absurdly fictitious take on Jonathan’s trek to fame. It’s my version of one of those 1940 Hollywood bios that have very little to do with reality. Really, it’s just about how incredibly exciting all that music was in ’76”

Jack Rabid on NEW PART IN TOWN: “I wish more vintage bands meticulously curated their vaults like The Scenics. Punching in at the absolute dawn of Toronto punk, they wore starting pistol New York proto-punk-to-1975 CBGB punk influences on their sleeve, as per their illuminating retrospective for the uninitiated, In the Summer: Studio Recordings 1977-1978—the core collection devoted to their back pages. But this is an even earlier document! …. Add in their own intense, weird, sparce ’n’ spiked art-barbs, and this is fascinating. 1977 is next.”

That’s right, Jack. The Scenics have 300 hours of tape recorded 1976-82 in their basement or at gigs, as well as unreleased studio material. Coming on LP in 2025 – A Younger Version- The Scenics 1977!

And now, here’s the Jonathan Richman video:

They say his songs say it
His ads may portray it
But I got the inside dope
As far as all of us here are concerned
Johnny Richman is our one and only hope!