Friday, November 21, 2008

Van Duren - Are You Serious? - 1977


Van Duren was part of the small but influential Memphis power pop scene of the '70s that produced Big Star and the Scruffs, and he was more than just a casual observer -- Duren gigged regularly with Chris Bell and auditioned for a guitar slot in Big Star but failed to get the gig. The latter is something of a surprise, as Duren was gifted songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, and in 1977 he scored a deal with Big Sound Records, a short-lived label run by fellow power pop obsessive Jon Tiven, and headed off to Connecticut to record his debut album, Are You Serious? While Duren has a passionate following among pop devotees, Are You Serious? has never quite gained the same sort of cult acclaim as Big Star and the Scruffs, and frankly that may well be because Duren was never as quirky as either of those acts. The angular melodies of Radio City and the aggressive angst of Wanna Meet the Scruffs? set those albums apart from most power pop acts of their day, but by comparison Duren sounds like a cross between Emitt Rhodes and Badfinger, and while his embrace of pop classicism is impressive, ultimately the more traditional slant of his music and the regular-guy cynicism of his lyrics make for a less interesting album than what his peers in the smart hooky stuff were known for. That's not so say Are You Serious? isn't impressive, especially given that Duren plays everything but drums on most tracks, and at a time when Beatles-influenced pop was a rare commodity, this album must have been a breath of fresh air for the few who ran across it. But for all Van Duren's strength as a songwriter and his very impressive vocal chops, Are You Serious? is an album that, rather than shaking the framework of '70s pop, selectively embraced it, and for all its tunefulness it doesn't sound as revelatory 30 years on. -AMG

If you like"Are You Serious?" get it here!


Van Duren - Are You Serious? - 1977 pt1/rs
Van Duren - Are You Serious? - 1977 pt2/rs
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11 comments:

Mike said...

Hey Curty Ray - thanks for all you're doing! A request... Do you have any Eggstone please? 'Somersault' would be good... Thanks.

king kimmel said...

man y thanks for this..it is fantastic!!!

Gabe said...

Hi, Eggstone is a great band, more inidepop thatn power pop, but great pop tunes nonetheless. Think early Cardigans but less twee. I think everything is OOP now. I could upload some stuff if interested...

Thanks

g

Curty Ray said...

I would be intrested!! Thanks

CR

Anonymous said...

Back to this Van Duren album. Easily one of my favorites of all time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much!! How about "Losing you to sleep" wotj Tommy Hoehn!?

Todd said...

Thanks, this is great. Actually, great blog in general.

Anonymous said...

a great surprise to find this-great memories ,thanks

bubba said...

Many thanks!
Love Big Star, Chris Bell etc.

genesis315 said...

hi curty ray, just working my way through your archieve and found this,could you reuppload please, many thanks, anthony

Anonymous said...

Hey Curty, I'd like to second that request for a re-up. Thanks, man!

Also, I'd like to second the love for Big Star, Chris Bell, Tommy Hoehn, etc.!

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