Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mumps - Fatal Charm (1994)

The Mumps are a pet favorite of mine that seem to have been unfairly swept under the carpet of pop history; this is despite their CBGB’s pedigree and two posthumous collections, mind you. ‘Fatal Charm’ was the first of these, released in 1994, and it contains their entire recorded output from the 70's. As terminally clever as it is catchy, the Mumps’ special blend of glam, bubblegum, and punk is simply a joy to listen to, and tremendous fun to boot. Early Sparks is a good reference point. Add a touch of flamboyance and a healthy dose of retro-kitsch-- before the B-52’s mined similar territory to great success--and you’ve got the Mumps, charismatically led by the dearly departed Lance Loud of “An American Family” fame. And need I mention the songwriting genius of Kristian Hoffman? The second reissue, 2005’s ‘How I Saved the World,’ adds a bonus disc of live video to the mix; if you enjoy these songs, buy it! In an alternate universe, “Crocodile Tears” and “Anyone but You” are recognized as pop classics; they already are in my world, anyway. I’ve reproduced the ‘Fatal Charm’ liner notes below; I think the final paragraph is a particularly poignant summation of the Mumps’ appeal. Enjoy! - Ariel

More information here.

Too pop for punk, too "old school" for the New Wave. Mumps were a 70's era New York rock band, out of time. Everything about us was contradictory or cockeyed in a fashion era in which motorcycle jackets, mohawk hairdos, torn clothing and lots and lots of chains were the order of the day, we were the band most often seen in jackets, dress shirts and ties. Our high vaunting musical ambitions were matched with low ranking musical expertise, we had a lead singer who could sweat better than he could stay in key, and besides the fact that three of us were gay in a hetero-heavy field which only acknowledged homosexuality as being a passing marketing ploy in David Bowie's career. The only thing shared between us all was our weird combination of superiority and insecurity.

Included on this compilation you'll hear just about everything Mumps ever recorded both our singles, a smattering of early rehearsal tapes, demos, an alternate version, and even one number "Stupid" which was recorded for a compilation record of New York bands that never got released and which now sounds, to me at least, to be among the best things we ever committed to tape.

Now from beyond the grave, Mumps are back. What's our worth in this day and age? Coming from a point in time, before MTV, that is as good as prehistoric, there is of course the archeological factor. (....Jurassic Punk?) Then there is also the timeless factor. Allowing myself only a moment on the soap box, our music spoke to the true misfit class of American teenager. Not the poetic James Dean type dream outcast, but the real, nerdy, nobody wants ‘em, Forgotten Teens. You know the type. Too square to be down with the homeboys too idiotic to be up with the intellectuals, too insecure to be the center of attention and too impatient to just sit at home and wait until they get to be 21. Mumps music, and this of course was based on the tunes and lyrics mostly of Kristian Hoffman, spoke to the disenfranchised, kids who wanted to fit in any place but fit in no place instead. These Mumps miscreants came to our shows, loved my sweating and sour notes, were bewitched by Kristian Hoffman's pouting piano presence, thought Toby Duprey was the hottest guitarist ever, Paul Rutner was the toughest drummer around and Kevin Kiely was what the Venus De Mila would have been had she been a teenaged runaway male in the 2Oth century who played bass. The record of course is, as far as I'm concerned, first of all is for the former members of Mumps, something to show for the seven years spent in hard labor on the chain gang of rock and roll. But secondly this record is for the dorky youth. For kids who are dumb, unpopular, and considering a lifetime fraught with serious adjustment problems...Mumps the word.

- Lance Loud '94

1 comment:

Hank said...

Fantastic! Only ever heard their first single - still have it! - and always (well occasionally anyway) wanted to hear more. Thanx!