When The Clash played the Harvard Square Theater on February 16, 1979 on their first American tour, the opening act was Boston punk band The Rentals, fronted by the husband and wife duo Jeff and Jane Hudson on guitar and bass. The Hudsons were Boston artists, video producers and teachers at the prestigious School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where they founded the video studies program. One of their students was Pseudo Carol, who became the Rental’s drummer when it formed in 1977. Relocating to New York in 1979, they signed a record deal in their dressing room after a performance at Max’s Kansas City. Two singles resulted, “Gertrude Stein,” about the American famed for her Left Bank art-world salons in Paris in the early decades of the 20th century, and “I Got A Crush On You.” Both were produced by Oedipus, the WBCN disk jockey and program director.
After The Rentals disbanded in 1980, the Hudsons took a new direction, first as The Manhattan Project and then with their eponymous synth-wave band Jeff and Jane. After releasing the EP World Trade, they self-produced and recorded a full LP, Flesh, featuring tracks such as “Los Alamos” and “Pound Pound”. This trailblazing early-electronica record has become a fan favorite and collectors classic which was re-released on CD in 2004 and then again in 2011 in an expanded version with previously unreleased material. Jeff and Jane stopped playing and recording in 1985, and the couple returned to Boston, where they continued to teach at the Museum School. Jane focused on her work as a video artist, and Jeff produced music videos for artists such as The Neighborhoods, O Positive and Pat Metheny.
But Jeff and Jane the band was not done yet. They resumed for a couple of years in 1995 with a sound that was more guitar-driven and psychedelic, releasing an album Zeta Brew. They were back at it again briefly in 2002 returning to their punkier Rentals roots in several club shows. After relocating to the Berkshires, Jeff and Jane trotted out their synthesizers for a show in early 2012, accompanied by video projections, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. These days you can find them on the MassMOCA campus running their art, antiques and collectibles shop Hudsons.
(by Steve Nelson)