One of the greatest albums of the 1970s, Television's 'Marquee Moon' (1977) went practically unheard in the United States. It took the music scribes of Britain to point out to the rest of the world Television's near brilliance.
30-something years later, publications such as Bowling Stoned and Entertaining Weakly hail the album (and band) as, 'Regrettably Unknown, Yet Vastly Influential'.
I Hate Disneyland. Mickey didn't shake my hand.Mickey Mouse is a Rat. Mickey Mouse is a Rat!- Disneyland
In the case of New York's Come On, I doubt anyone is going to ride out and save them from obscurity anytime soon.
Which only goes to show you: For every one highly regarded band in the mainstream or on the outskirts, there will be ten equally talented unknowns lurking to be discovered.
Top, L-R: Page Wood (Drums), Elena Glasberg (Guitar), George Elliott (Guitar)
Bot, L-R: Jamie Kaufman (Vocals), Ralf Mann (Bass)
If you happen to stumble across reviews of Come On, you'll inevitably run into Talking Heads comparisons. So many, in fact, it is no wonder so few have heard of them.
Why bother with wannabes? We've already got Mr. Byrne and The Rest!
If that doesn't cause you to turn your head and cough, perhaps the genre-tagging of Come On by reviewers will: Angular Art-Rock, No/New Wave, Post-Punk, minimalist, New York Punk, Underground Pop, Asexual White Soul Dance Music, blah, blah, blah...
Old People. Get out of the House. Get out in the Streets.Turn over Cars. Elbow Young People. Set Garbage on Fire.- Old People
Do not get me wrong - the comparisons to early Talking Heads are valid.
Both feature spastic lead singers/lyricists. Both feature women in prominent, yet not quite front-of-stage roles. Both feature homages to the Verlaine & Lloyd duel guitar tapestry. Both feature nervous lyrics that wallow in the horrors (and humor) of the banal. And both took the stage in intentionally subdued 'Every Man' attire.
What many reviewers fail to mention is that Come On were contemporaries of Talking Heads, having first recorded demo tracks in 1977. The lazy slobs.
That is not to say that Byrne and Company did not influence the direction that Come On were to take in the next three years of existence. However, it can be argued that the similar approach to presentation and stripped-down sound were nothing more than a coincidence of similar artistic expression.
And what an expression it was...
I'm five. Five years old. When I'm seven, I'll get to smoke.Secretly, I already do. In the bushes. With the girls.- I'm Five
The Come On Story: New York City, 1976-80 - a compilation of material recorded between 1978-1980 (???) presents the case that Come On deserved a much better fate.
If anything, you'll be left wondering why you are the only one in your crowd to have ever heard of them.
* Howard After Six -- Mom knows why Howard doesn't like making coffee after six, but she's not telling. My favorite cut on the album; a propelling and compelling rhythm section courtesy of Ralf Mann and Page Wood, atmospheric guitar interplay between George Elliott and Elena Glasberg, and Jamie Kaufman's whispering observations on poor Howard's tedium. It blows me away every time.
* Housewives Play Tennis -- Middle-class housewives are such a bore. Except for their weak backhands and underthings. Mmmm.... underthings. Besides 'Howard After Six', this song may be their strongest. And like Howard, you'll swear you've heard it before.
* Old People -- As if their love of Susan Lucci and Alex Trebeck weren't enough. Now we have to worry about old people rioting, looting, and elbowing young people in the sides? Gee, thanks Mr. Kaufman.
* Mona Lisa -- Television had Venus de Milo. Come On had the Mona Lisa. Great. Here come the Television comparisons. 'Mona complains. It seems she doesn't like it, but what can she do? She just has to smile.'
Physical ed. Don't get physical, Ed.Push Up, Sit Up, Get Up, Shut Up...Physical ed. I'm a physical wreck.- Physical Ed
* Physical Ed -- Superb wordplay. Where the hell did Jamie Kaufman go after Come On broke up, anyway? The guy was far too talented to have dropped off the pimpled face of Show Business. Obviously he was smart enough to.
* Don't Walk on the Kitchen Floor -- The B Side to the only 7" single (self)released by the band during their lifetime. 'And I want to live all of my life. Not just the weekends.' Yeah... me, too!
* I'm Five -- Who would have thought five year olds were so worldly?
* My Neighbor Makes Noise -- I love the slow build. Towards the end, drummer Page Wood throttles the cut like a slightly out of control go-kart racer.
* See Me -- George Elliott is a superb guitarist. His lines are subtly complex - and the weave between he and Elena Glasberg typically end up making most of the songs interesting enough to come back to.
* Businessmen in Space
Quirky, witty, bouncy -- all the things that made early Devo so great.
Links of Interest:
* Come On: New York City, 1976-80 (Punk Not Profit blog link)