Thursday, March 6, 2014

Love So Deep

Having waited many years for a proper singles collection from Jake and the Stiffs, I was more than thrilled when one finally arrived in January. It was a glorious moment - like the time I threw for four touchdowns in one game (wait, that was Al Bundy). Now I find myself doubly graced in the wake of the reissue of the debut full-length from Delaware's all-time greatest band. Released on cassette in 1992 and limited to somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 copies, Love So Deep had all but disappeared from the face of the earth. Now it's back as part of Randy America's quest to digitally remaster and reissue all of his band's old recordings. It goes without saying that the group's singles collection is a mandatory purchase for any individual who appreciates quality music. But to my mind, the thing that made Jake and the Stiffs the most criminally overlooked band of their time was that they had so much more than just a handful of great songs. In the case of a lot of old bands, you probably only need to hear the hits. But it is my contention that Jake and the Stiffs have an entire catalog worth buying. If you don't yet own any of their releases, Love So Deep would be a perfectly good place to start. And at just $5.49, it's cheaper than an adult magazine or a foot long hoagie. What are you waiting for? Download this thing now!

How many bands were playing powerpop/punk back in 1992? Not many! Sure, the whole Lookout! Records pop-punk scene was at its zenith. But Jake and the Stiffs were doing their own thing entirely - with inspirations running the gamut from Detroit rock to power pop to '70s punk to hard rock. Love So Deep goes all the way back to the band's Randy/Steve Funk/Zach Hansen lineup. Listening to the album, you realize the band was still figuring out its "sound" at this point in its history. So there's a pretty decent variety of material to be heard. Songs like "Scrappy Come Home", "Because", and "All I Said" are true Jake and the Stiffs classics. But a lot of the lesser known numbers have held up just as well over 22 years. The staying power of this album evidences what I've been saying for a very long time: Randy America is one of the great unheralded songwriters of my generation. The awesome "Million Miles Away" is an early example of his knack for mixing humorous lyrics with personal and genuinely profound ruminations. "Back In The Day" isn't just a nostalgic look back at the early '80s - it's an indictment of how popular culture and life in general changed for the worse over a single decade. It rings as true today as ever. The thundering power ballad "Walk Away" might come off cheesy if it weren't so righteously epic. Even the album's "deep cuts" (pun fully intended) offer unearthed treasures- like the super weird "I Went Walking" (one of the first songs the band ever wrote) and a beautiful piano piece from the late Steve Stiers.

While I would have been happy with any reappearance of all these old Jake and the Stiffs releases, I'm especially pleased that Randy is doing it the right way. He really took the time to get the remastering perfect, and these old recordings (taken from the original reels) have never sounded better! Whether you're a longtime fan of these First State stalwarts, a nostalgist for the '90s underground, or simply a connoisseur of old school pop/punk (Ramones, Buzzcocks, Dickies), Love So Deep will make a fine addition to your music collection. 

 
-L.R.

http://randyamerica.blogspot.com/
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1 comment:

Randy America said...

Thanks, Josh! This is awesome!