Friday, September 09, 2016


Dramarama, it seems to me, got caught in the same pit that bogged down the Ramones and the Jesus and Mary Chain - their first album was so good and so distinctive that it hamstrung them for the rest of their career.

The Ramones actually managed to top the first album w/ their second one.  Better production and a generally more raucous sound.  That separation of bass and guitar on the first album did them no favors, really, no matter how conceptual it was supposed to be.  The third album had great songs, but the production was way too tame and muted.  After that, they remained a great live act, but kept bouncing back and forth between trying to get a hit single and not giving a shit about the charts.   I stuck with them as long as I could, but everything from Brain Drain to Acid Eaters is best left ignored (as is Loco Live and Greatest Hits Live - solid crap for such a great live act).  Adios Amigos had some decent workmanlike tunes and a (very) few excellent songs.  Not a great album by any means, but the only non-wretched music they released in the 90s.  A sad way to go.
The Chain took a whole different approach, intentionally choosing to move past the groundbreaking sound of Psychocandy.  They never made a bad album (Stoned & Dethroned was the closest they came, just because it was too laid back, and Munki had a few completely uninspired moments, but they were both essentially still good albums),  but they never rose to those heights of ’84 and ’85 again, either.

But Dramarama……

Image result for dramarama cinema veriteAside from the hideous and pointless remake of “Femme Fatale”, Cinema Verite was a thoroughly outstanding power-pop/punkish whirlwind of overdriven guitar and snarky vocals.  It was SO good that the “hit” song wasn’t even the best one.   Still rocks like a motherfucker 30+ years later.

It seemed to leave the band floundering, though.  The second album was a lesser rewrite of it.  Started off excellently with “Steve & Edie”, but then stumbled.  Not a bad album, by any means, but not as insanely catchy as CV, and more than a few of the songs tended to overstay their welcome.  The snarkiness started to sound a little stale, here, and the bittersweet was beginning to curdle into just plain bitter.
Image result for dramarama box office bomb
Stuck in Wonderamaland was an improvement.  The bitterness seemed to be mellowing into melancholy at points, though, and the band seemed to have a hard time rousing itself into tossing off as many rockers as they’d  pulled off so effortlessly in the past.  The slow songs were good, they had hooks, but the band was starting to sound resigned.

Image result for dramarama stuck in wonderamaland
Vinyl was an odd one.  Some of the rock came back, but in an almost MOR way, which was (unintentionally?) ironic for an album with a song called “Classic Rot”.  Also ironic in this context was the remake of an old solo Mick Jagger tune  and the guest spots by Mick Taylor and Benmont Tench.  All in all, it was just as strong as Wonderamaland  but, again, outside of Easdale’s lyrics, it really didn’t sound like the Dramarama of old.  Actually sounded a bit generic and again, some of the songs went on longer than they needed to.

Image result for dramarama vinylIt was a good enough album to get me to run out and buy Hi Fi Sci Fi as soon as it came out, but that was the end of the road for me & Dramarama.  I've tried listening to this album on multiple occasions over the years, but it's always as awful as the first time I heard it.   Sometimes I'll read some reviews of it.  They're almost always positive, speaking of another awesome Dramarama album, but I have never heard it.  It sucks.  At least, the last time I listened to it, it did.  Were there some horrible Easdale falsettos on that album?  I think there were.  A lot of dull, uninspired music?  I believe so.  It was one of those albums where, as  I listened to it for the first time, I'd tell myself "Okay, all those other songs sucked, but THIS NEXT ONE will turn things around."  And it never happened.  Kind of like R.E.M.'s Out of Time......

Never bothered with the reunion album, so I really can't speak of it. 

But that first album, man.  Hooooooooooooooooooooo-weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.  Good shit.

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