The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers
Jonathan Richman sounded a bit like Lou Reed. The songs were fantastic. The only place you could buy that album was the Rock On store in Camden Town. I think everybody, including John Rotten and all of the Pistols, had been down there at some point to buy it. Anybody that later got into the punk rock scene had bought this record.
It still sounds really good. John Cale produced it. It's under-produced if anything, which is what's so good about it. His voice is great. American punk rock was completely different from the London scene – you had Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Television and that, and it all seemed a bit arty. But this was four college kids from California who had got together and made a dark record. It sounds like a guy who's had his heart broken. It's a romantic punk record, really. 'Roadrunner' is the one everybody learnt when they were rehearsing or trying to get into a band. The way he sang, he just sort of threw it away. I can't really think of anybody who'd done it like that before. The solos were great, just one or two notes. Very simple stuff, which was what appealed to the punks. The whole punk thing was about stripping things down because people couldn't play very well. Get the band first and worry about the music later.
I saw Jonathan Richman last year doing a festival somewhere, just him and a drummer. He's the only person I know who tells the sound guy to turn it down. But back then he was streets ahead of everyone.