You can tell a bit about a person’s relationship to pop culture by their Jonathan Richman frame of reference.
Some know him as a punk godfather who gifted unto an unworthy universe the brilliant “Roadrunner.” Repo Man fans and Bowiephiles might note that Richman’s original lineup of the Modern Lovers was responsible for “Pablo Picasso.” And then there are the Farrelly Brothers fans, who know Richman’s sweet voice and boyish face as one half of Something About Mary’s Greek chorus. Me? I’m an “all of the above” guy.
Musically, Modern Lovers 88 holds more for the Farrelly Brothers fans than those looking for the original lineup’s protopunk rawness. Like most of Richman’s output, the lyrics are romantic and the music nostalgic. Take “Everything’s Gotta Be Right,” for example:
So Modern Lovers 88 musically is an album that belongs in your stacks, and the fact that it’s the last Richman album to bear the Modern Lovers name adds some conversational value. That’s all swell, but my copy has a couple of added bonuses.
The first is fairly obvious. Flip my Modern Lovers 88 over and you’ll find Richman’s signature scrawled across the back of the album jacket. I bought this copy used, delighted to to have an autographed Modern Lovers album in my stacks. It was only when I got it home that I noticed the signed publicity photo tucked inside the sleeve. Score!
You can find your own copy of Modern Lovers 88 for around five bucks, a signed copy for maybe double that. Happy hunting.