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Friday, April 3, 2009

BoDeans

Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (Collector’s Edition) (Rhino)

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Vindication for years of internal ups and downs and music-industry apathy comes in the form of this lavish and richly deserved Collector's Edition of the BoDeans' sturdy debut album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. Produced by T-Bone Burnett and released in 1986, when new artists were putting crisp pop spins on old rockabilly sounds, the album contained 11 simple, catchy songs packed with sentiment and emotion that still sound fresh. Guitarists/songwriters Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann (who remain the heart of this heartland-rock band) sang about losing temporary lovers and factory jobs but never about losing hope.

The four previously unreleased demos Llanas and Neumann recorded in college and included here capture that spirit, too, and would have fit perfectly on the original album. The B-side "Try and Try" and a new recording of the old song "Janey" round out the bonus tracks. But the real jewel is a previously unreleased hour-long DVD capturing the BoDeans' July 15, 1985, pre-record-deal gig at the 7th St. Entry, a side room of Minneapolis' legendary First Avenue. The sparse crowd that night included Burnett and is notable for the number of songs that did not make the first album. Featuring an incredibly young-looking quartet (with Bob Griffin on bass and future Violent Femme Guy Hoffman on drums), the set reveals the band's early onstage vibrancy, which catapulted the BoDeans to an opening slot on U2's The Joshua Tree tour and keeps it active today.

This edition of a local classic reminds those of us who were there at the beginning just how memorable Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams really is, and it should help everybody else understand what all the fuss was about.


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