Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Crazy Rhythms: The Feelies Return to Maxwell's

The Feelies were one of the bands that helped cement the reputation of Hoboken's Maxwell's as a rock mecca in the early '80s. Their first album, "Crazy Rhythms," was named #49 in Rolling Stone's "Top 50 Albums of the 1980s," and it received acclaim from other critics as well. Someone hearing The Feelies today would remark that they sound a lot like early R.E.M., but R.E.M. has reported said that it was influenced by The Feelies, which makes sense since they were around earlier.

In any case, the band that originally arose from Haledon, New Jersey (that's HALE-dunn) is back and performed two shows at their old home away from home, Maxwell's. These two shows were billed on the band's Web site as a "warm-up" for their spotlight as the opening act for Sonic Youth in the big Fourth of July free concert in lower Manhattan, they were in fine form in the show that I saw, Tuesday night's gig at Maxwell's.

The Feelies made several more albums after "Crazy Rhythms" and then broke up for good in the early 1990s, though various members were reunited in a range of other bands, including Speed the Plough and The Trypes. (You can find more about Feelies history and spin-offs at their MySpace page.)

Last night's show revealed that they still had the chops and intensity that made them so acclaimed back in the day. And playing two 45-minute sets, they clearly have the stamina.

They played plenty of old favorites from their albums, of course, along with a few cover tunes and, surprising to me, a couple of songs that bassist Brenda Sauter referred to as new tunes. Is there a new Feelies album in the works, I wonder?

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