Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
A fine chance to see JR in his element
Gena Chereck | Nebraska, USA | 10/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, so Jonathan Richman has already released a couple of live albums (not counting bootlegs): Precise Modern Lovers Order (Rounder, 1994) was a compilation of live recordings from 1971 and '73 by his short-lived proto-punk outfit the Modern Lovers, while Modern Lovers Live (Beserkley, 1977) showcased his late-'70s turn toward childlike lyrics and acoustic folk-rock. Parts of Having A Party (Rounder, 1991) were also recorded live; but while tracks like "Monologue About Bermuda," "Just For Fun," and "When I Say Wife" retained the stripped-down folk-rock sound, by that point Richman's lyrics were leaning away from the childlike whimsy of old, and toward more adult concerns such as self-reflection, commitment and the minutiae of married life. Having seen him in concert three times in the past two years, however, I don't think another live CD could have done him justice. Jonathan and/or his label, Vapor, must have sensed this, too: In December of 2002, he performed a show at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, which was filmed for the new concert DVD Take Me To The Plaza. For anyone who hasn't caught his live show lately, this is an excellent way to see what he's been up to; but for those who HAVE seen him play live in recent years, there aren't very many surprises. This is a fairly typical Jonathan Richman show as far as I'm concerned -- and that's NOT a bad thing. He seems a little tired, perhaps winding down from a long tour, but this DVD perfectly captures his unique combination of earnestness and showmanship. A word of warning about the song selection, though: Seven of the 19 tunes ("Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow," "Springtime in New York," "Couples Must Fight," "Give Paris One More Chance," "My Love for Her Ain't Sad," "Yo Tengo Una Novia," "El Joven Se Estremece") are from his 2001 CD Her Mystery..., so how much you'll like this show may depend on how much you liked that particular album. Other tracks include "Pablo Picasso" and "Girlfriend" from his Modern Lovers days, "Let Her Go Into the Darkness," "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar," and "The Night is Still Young"; "Nineteen in Naples" and "You Can't Talk to the Dude" are included as separate bonus tracks. Five new tunes -- the typical-JR love song "My Baby Love Love Loves Me," the life-affirming "I Love the World," the unusually topical "Not In My Name," the jaunty "Take Me to the Plaza," and my favorite, "The World is Showin' Me its Hand" -- bode well for his next studio album.Jonathan is accompanied only by himself on guitar and Tommy Larkins on drums; that said, many of Richman's typical antics are present and accounted for. He occasionally takes off his guitar and dances to Tommy's drumbeat ("...Lesbian Bar," "My Baby...," "El Joven Se Estremece"); he alters lyrics ("Pablo Picasso," "Her Mystery..."); he adds hilarious spoken bits ("Let Her Go...," "You Can't Talk to the Dude"); he translates "El Joven..." into English as he performs it; and he even takes a request ("Nineteen in Naples"). Throughout, the visuals and camerawork simply showcase the cuddly cult figure in his element, without a lot of gimmicks, jump-cuts or fancy stuff.The DVD includes two interviews with Jonathan as well. The first covers a lot of familiar ground for us fans -- such as his early influences, his meeting the Velvet Underground, the Modern Lovers LP (recorded 1971-73, released in '76), his strained relations with the Warner Bros. label in the '70s, his decision to go solo, and how his lonely adolescence inspired the song "Roadrunner" -- but is nevertheless interesting and amusing. The second interview is actually more fascinating, though, as Richman speaks frankly about how he's been misquoted in interviews over the years, and about how he's a bit embarrassed by his earlier records. Encore!"
The great Jonathan Richman
Adam Tebrugge | Sarasota, Fl USA | 10/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A hundred years from now, people will look back on the period from 1950-2000 as the musical renaissance. Artists who we pay no attention to now will be revered, while some who sell millions will be forgotton. Among the musicians that people of the 22nd century will be fascinated with is Jonathan Richman. Jonathan has proven himself to be one of the finest songwriters of our times but he has displayed a complete disdain for popular acceptance. His music bubbles along the currents of those in the know but is rarely experienced by the masses. This DVD will not change things. With his face unshaven, his hair uncombed, his shirt unironed, and the ever sullen Tommy Larkin behind him on drums, Jonathan is the antithesis of a star during this performance. What he does possess, and oodles of it, is passion and a knack for coaxing subtle sounds from his acoustic guitar. Most of his fans' favorites are absent from this performance as well, with the emphasis being on newer tunes as well as a handful of unreleased songs. None of that matters. A hundred years from now a future generation will gaze in awe upon Jonathan's awkward dancing and genuine display of emotion and they will not understand how he was ignored during his time."
Love, love, love
Ann-Marie Keene | Portland, ME USA | 01/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Jonathan. I love Tommy. Great musicians, and if you've ever been to a show and approached them (It's extremely simple, they really are just regular guys), you'd find yourself even more impressed by them. I saw this DVD at a friend's, and it was like being right back at a show. Anyone who's been to a show knows the wonder and amazement in that, so what else can I possibly say?"
"Wanna Hear Another One? Cos We Got More Stuff, We Got More"
Adam Tebrugge | 11/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins. They're not The Modern Lovers. They are JR - all grown up, all happy & content; and TL-
Loyal Tommy (Tommy the Saint) keeping quiet and accompanying JR flawlessly.
This DVD will introduce you to the kind of gigs they perform these days -JR sharing his feelings thoughts and views with the world through his songs and intros. In real life the shows are much more colourful and vary from night to mood.
Take Me to the Plaza includes a few firm favourites, but mostly stuff from his last album Her Mystery Not of High Heels and quite a few new and brilliant tracks. Fans will have their favourites, but mine has to be the title track (track 12). Corny though it sounds, each word is sung with passion and is truly heartfelt. Also you can't help but dance to it. The feel is similar to City vs Country (a track from one of JR's old albums- You Must Ask the Heart)- he wants to live in the city where everything is going on, but also wants to be in the country. A dilemma most of us must share. I haven't still made up my mind -both is proving to be just too expensive!
If you like songs that are about life and people and you aren't into phoney bands, then this DVD is worth buying."