If The Modern Lovers, fronted by the unique and irrepressible singer Jonathan Richman, had done nothing else but record their classic driving tune “Roadrunner,” with its references to the Stop & Shop and Route 128, the band’s place in local music circles would still be secure. But The Modern Lovers did much more than that. The tune was covered by The Sex Pistols, and the Lovers are considered a precursor to punk. Always a cult and critics’ favorite, their alumni include Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), David Robinson (The Cars), Asa Brebner (The Chartbusters), John Felice (The Real Kids), and of course, Richman himself. A fan of The Velvet Underground (and, ultimately, a contemporary: VU’s John Cale produced the band’s 1976 debut) in their days at The Boston Tea Party, Jonathan eventually went on to a solo career that featured a kind of joyful minimalist punk-folk that still sounds like nothing else. The Modern Lovers, in various incarnations but always fronted by Richman, performed from the early ’70s into the ’90s, and might still pop up from time to time — he was the guitar-slinging troubadour inThere’s Something About Mary — if Richman decides to give the tag to whatever backing combo he has with him.
(by Dean Johnson)
Published on August 26, 2012