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Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1993 11:01:41 -0500 (CDT)
From: Rick.G.Karr[at] (Rick G. Karr)
Subject: Revisionism

Sebastian Hagedorn writes:
> Finally, probably this has been discussed over and over but don't
> you think that it has never been the same since Max Eider left?
> With the more recent albums I always like a few songs, but not as much
> as I liked "Scandal in Bohemia" etc.

Perhaps it has, but not since I've been on the list. Consequently, I'd
like to take a shot, especially in light of what I consider to be
an odd schism regarding "post-Max revisionism" among JBC fans.

First, a little background on my own opinion, so everyone knows my
prejudices up front: Like many of you, I held the belief for a long
time that _Distressed_Gentlefolk_ was the zenith of the _original_
JBC (I know there were lineup changes in there, but the main strength
of the band seemed to me to be the interplay between Max and Pat). After
the split, I was thoroughly impressed by _The_Best_Kisser_. . ., which
seemed to retain the melancholy ambience of _D_G_ while proving that Max
was a solid songwriter, lyricist ("A hundred years have hardly left a
trace/I can't believe what twenty-eight/Have done to mine"), arranger,
and a vocalist with a unique, though limited style. _Fishcotheque_ (Is it
still open under the arches at Victoria, I wonder?) struck me, on the
other hand, as a sloppy, thin-sounding parade of second-rate Pat songs.

This analysis was hotly disputed by my JBC-listening friends at the time
(A few members of this list among them). To them, _T_B_K_I_T_W_ was "a
sell out," "overproduced," etc., while _Fishcotheque_ was "honest" and
the like. I know this is typical indie aesthetic; I suffer from it myself
sometimes. But it had always seemed to me that Pat was uncomfortable
workingf in the low-fi, cut it and release it world of indie land. He
_wanted_ to spend hours in the studio, creating achingly beautiful sound-

I think _Condition_Blue_ and, more importantly, _Cult_Of_The_Basement_
bear that out. I also think _C_O_T_B_ surpasses _D_G_ in most respects
(lousy mastering notwithstanding. An aside on that front: Mr. Whittemore --
do you think Mr. Stebbing would allow us to copy his safety DAT of _Cult_ to
an FTP site? Although I've never heard it, it sounds as though it's worth

So on to revisionism, as I realize I've rambled far longer than I should've:
Now, most JBC fans seem to have demoted _Fishcotheque_ from the landmark
status they once accorded it, and promoted their respect for Max's LP.

The questions are: (1) Is this true, or am I misinterpreting things, reading
things into people's comments? (2) If it is true, how does this revision
relate to the "Is Pat's with-Max output inevitably better" question? (3) Does
Max lose points for not following up? (4) Why do so many people in this
group seem to write off more "serious" post-Max works like _Cult_? What am
I missing (or what am I seeing that others aren't?)

Rick G. Karr Journalist, audio engineer, sleepy guy.
rgk[at] 1444 N. Greenview Ave. Chicago, IL 60622
* 312/276-7450

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