Tuesday, February 10, 2004

 
Alan Licht seems to be getting his name out outside of the noise/improv community these days. I was surprised to learn that he wrote some of the liner notes for the recent Television remasters, and a google search turns up a pretty decent number of articles and references. He got his start in a small band at Vassar college (Allmusic: "in upstate New York"), Love Child, whose reputation seems to have increased somewhat out of proportion to their actual output. I thought I'd feature a few Love Child tracks today.

(I should probably mention that I was at Vassar at the same time that Love Child was active, and we all know that the folks from your hometown will never respect you, even after you're a star. I do have to emphasize, though, that a Love Child concert, while fun in a pinch, wasn't the sort of thing you got tremendously excited about in 1990 in Poughkeepsie. And an Alan Licht improvisation in the food court was more an excuse to go get lunch at Wendys than the inspiration for an article on improvisational minimalism.)

Anyway, Robert Christgau probably had the most accurate take on the band in his capsul review of their first CD Okay?:

Too bad these punk-going-no-wave neotraditionalists didn't study their Ramones harder--instead of crowding 21 songs into 45 minutes, they might have grouped the 14 snappiest into a dandy 27-minute shot in the dark. Of course, that would have consigned most of conceptualist Alan Licht's to the cutting-room floor. Here's hoping Licht gets bored like the arty dilettante he is. Then liberated girl Rebecca Odes could join punk-going-pop Will Baum in a band of their own.

They did have some nice novelty-type songs. Here's Rebecca Odes singing (they were instrument/vocalist switchers, like Beat Happening) on Sofa, He's So Sensitive and Church of Satan. Will Baum, the songwriter who kind of got kicked out of the group to find obscurity with 9 Iron, actually wrote my favorite song of theirs, Things I Noticed. And here's Alan's shining moment, Know It's Allright.

One of the stranger components of the Love Child discography is a 7" single of covers of Moondog. I don't usually post songs here that I don't expect people to enjoy, but this probably has enough historical importance to qualify for an exception. (Actually it's not as bad as I remembered).

I'm not going to post anything from their second and final album Witchcraft, because honestly it isn't very good. You're welcome to disagree, but I want to put my opinion on record as a corrective to the Allmusic reviews, and especially to a very bizarre article that ran in a zine called Badaboom Gramophone several years back, which seems to hold that Love Child were the crowning culmination of the indie revolution. Make up your own mind, but you've been warned. [I had to look for this. It's in Badaboom Gramophone #4, and it's by Joe Harrington. It almost seems like a joke, but I'm pretty sure it's not. Kind of essential reading as a piece of really odd revisionist history...or as a joke about revisionist histories, being run into the ground like nothing you've ever seen before.]

In my opinion, actually, Love Child's most important contribution to modern civilization is the fact that Rebecca Odes and Brendan O'Malley (Will Baum's replacement) served as the touring rhythm section for Jesse Hartman's band Sammy.

(continued tomorrow)



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