[Part seven of the New Music from the Past 30 Years series… kind of]
In 1983, Camper van Beethoven began playing what is now a well-known, if not over-used, label for rock that is supposed to be cool – indie. They were making and putting out their own music by themselves and with true independent labels… before one would ask “independent from what?”
I wasn’t going to add to this series but for the fact that they’re releasing a 25th anniversary album of their greatest hits tomorrow – Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty.
Releasing a greatest hits isn’t all that exciting. However, they apparently re-recorded five of their songs for the album because their original record label wouldn’t release the songs for use nor would they sell the rights back to the band. So, they just recorded them again for inclusion. No word from anywhere that I can find as to what those songs are.
I found Camper in the mid-80s when “Take the Skinheads Bowling” was hard to avoid on local independent radio station WMSE in Milwaukee. Their music is most notable for the sheer volume of experimentation with rhythms, sounds, instruments and lyrics. Somewhat of an Eastern European punk Zappa sound.
They’ve been touring a lot in the last eight years, and if you haven’t seen them, you should. Their show now is a great tour through the history and catalog of an important “indie” original.
Here’s “Sweethearts.” Not only my favorite song of theirs, but one of my favorite ever… especially live.