Where the hell is Bill?
July 4, 2012 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Telephone Free Landslide Victory (side A): Border Ska, The day Lassie went to the Moom, Wasted with quality shut us down, Yanqui go Home, 9 of disks, Payed vacation greece, 1985 footage of Camper Van Beehtoven singing WTHiB and Cowboys from Hollywood.

Bonus track from side B: Mao Reminisces
posted by vozworth (23 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Having almost forgotten about CVB (and the classic "Take the Skinheads Bowling" not being among the links), I initially thought this post resembled the random language of a spam email.

(I think I HAVE received spammail with "Telephone Free Landslide Victory" on the subject line)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:31 PM on July 4, 2012

I'm a fan of CVB. Never got to see the band but I did see Cracker. It was around 1992. One of his band mates was wearing a yellow raincoat and apparently no pants. The raincoat was shiny and short. I was worried it wouldn't cover him enough. Sometime during the show he had a banana in his hand. To this day, I'm not sure what happened to the banana. All I saw was him putting it up under his raincoat. While he did it he looked.... uncomfortable.

With that, my favorite song from TFLSV
Ambiguity Song.
posted by hot_monster at 8:47 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I love that band, though my taste runs more towards III. Thanks!
posted by msalt at 9:07 PM on July 4, 2012

With that, my favorite song from TFLSV - Ambiguity Song.

Did you know that if you play Five Sticks from the Third Album backwards it turns into Ambiguity Song? (I only figured this out recently because I never owned the vinyl LP.)

I loved the way these guys were basically a bunch of sarcastic teenagers who liked pissing off punks. And rude boys. And emos. And rednecks. And every other group that their peers might belong to. Their early shows were like "it was a success! we got them to throw things at us!"
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:08 PM on July 4, 2012

What a delish coincidence. David Lowery wrote a post on his blog the other week which in turn inspired the series and interview with him on adland (not my post) Collateral Damage : How Free Culture destroys advertising.
posted by dabitch at 9:23 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

God, this is my soundtrack.
posted by freebird at 9:40 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

God, this is my soundtrack.

Are you my old roommate? He would listen to this album again, and again, and again, and again...

I can still hear every song in my head. Just glancing at the track titles in the FPP turned on my own instant replay feature.
posted by Forktine at 9:46 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, these guys were the greatest ever, so amazing to see them live at dorm parties and small clubs. I got to see a lot of now legendary bands right at their start (I was just lucky as hell to be living in the bay area on the late 80s/early 90s and had a college radio slot and played in a band) and these guys were one of the greats.

Interesting trivia: there are no cymbals on Telephone Free Landslide Victory -- all of the crashes were done on the high hat. The drummer didn't own any cymbals at the time of the recoding. I remember watching them play bluegrass on the quad at Porter College, at that time it was called College Five, College V, B dorm, CVB, hence Camper Van Beethoven.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:00 PM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

I don't typically want to make fun of people for misspelling things (something about glass houses), but I'm intrigued by "The day Lassie went to the Moom."
posted by JHarris at 1:31 AM on July 5, 2012

After missing their London show in 1990 I was disappointed, but was reassured by their tour itinerary, which promised a return to London after some gigs in Scandinavia. Then the tour came to a shuddering halt when the band broke up in Örebro, so I never did get to see them.

This post prompted me to look for a slightly obscure track of theirs called Colonel Enrique Adolfo Bermúdez, which I recall from my erstwhile flatmate’s copy of the expanded German re-issue of II&III. I was delighted to find no fewer than seven concert recordings at archive.org including it. Thank you, internet!
posted by misteraitch at 1:44 AM on July 5, 2012

With all the piling on Dave Lowery recently, it is a good reminder that he made some really great music. Interesting fact: I own all the CVB records on vinyl, but illegally downloaded them on mp3 to save me the hassle of digitizing them. Where does that fall on the spectrum of ripping off artists?
posted by jetsetsc at 5:06 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

For years "beloved revolutionary sweetheart" and "We carry your gun deep within our hearts
for no better reason than our lives have no meaning and we want to be on television" were favorite phrases between a friend and I.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:21 AM on July 5, 2012

I listened to this album and their others so much that like Forktine, I can pretty much play these back in my head on demand. I saw them around the time of Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, but sadly had not discovered them yet. If only I could have gone back to that show a year later after I knew all the songs. I never got into Key Lime Pie much although after later hearing Cracker, it seemed great by comparison. I think Lowery's voice and the creativity of the rest of the band were both needed to make great music. Cracker = kind of plodding and dull compared to CVB. Monks of Doom (where some of the other guys went) = musically really interesting but a little too wanky.

I was really surprised when they got back together later for New Roman Times and (to me) it was maybe their strongest album overall, though really different from the early stuff. They played great on that tour as well. NRT is worth the price of admission just for Militia Song, a goofy square dance tune about the Unabomber:

Studied mathematics at Berkeley
Now I don't like society
Got me a little old shack in the woods
Gonna mail you out some explosive goods

cue the fiddle break ... Yee-haw!
posted by freecellwizard at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2012

Great links! I got a copy of OBRS from a girl i was almost going out with in high school - her brother had bought it on the advice of his then sorta-girlfriend, and it was way too weird for him.

20-someodd years later I still listen to the record (although I've gone from cassette to CD to digital copies), but I can't actually remember that girl's name. Does this mean I'm getting old or just getting my priorities in order?
posted by pupdog at 8:43 AM on July 5, 2012

such a great band.
posted by RockyChrysler at 8:55 AM on July 5, 2012

Glad to see these are infringing videos.

(The Lowery article was perniciously stupid, and it annoys me to see the line about White only buying 15 albums as interpreted as only buying 15 albums worth of music, rather than what she actually said, which was that she's paid for singles.)

I got into CVB after liking Cracker's first album (which I bought on cassette). A buddy made me a mix tape that had CVB, Ween, Brainiac and The Boredoms on it, and I loved it. So then I downloaded the CVB, then bought it used.

Then I found out that he was a rabid polemicist against exactly how I got into CVB, makes a whole bunch of bullshit proclamations about music and culture, and I'm still annoyed at how many people take them as gospel because he's made good music rather than actually thinking them through.

(That he's big into Jaron Lanier is interesting; I tend to think that Lanier is full of a lot of the same bullshit. The whole "Digital Maoism" was particularly dumb.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on July 5, 2012

I saw the re-formed Camper Van Beethoven at The Attic [now closed] in Santa Cruz in 2005. I wish I'd paid better attention- it had to be the most College 5 -like show they've done in the modern era. Since then, I saw a CVB/Cracker combined show at the Independent which was skillfully played, but not quite as weird. I still have dreams where I'm back at The Attic. It probably helped that the stage was only about 18 inches tall.

Favorite moment (can't remember if it was one of those two or another show I might have seen at The Catalyst) was Lowery stopping a song part way in to assess a penalty on Immerglück for too much pedal steel. Wikipedia credits Im. as playing lap steel, but I remember it as pedal steel.

Video from The Attic:

Take the Skinheads Bowling from 2007.
Note that sound in this one is from the soundboard. Free culture, Lowrey? You're soaking in it.

4 or 5 songs from 2005
posted by morganw at 12:26 PM on July 5, 2012

God, that first CVB record was great. I was never as into their later, more professional records, but this one captured aloose, absurdist, slacker vibe that few others got so right. TMBG is kind of in the same ballpark for sense of humor, but they're clearly hard-working guys in a way CVB tried hard not to seem.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:07 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I saw CVB way back in the 80's when they played at the Palms Public Playhouse in Davis, kind of a homecoming for Jonathan Segal. He was interviewed by the local paper, and one of his comments was how much he liked the rock 'n roll lifestyle, whatever that was at the time. I was also taking biochemistry 101b from his dad, who truth be told wasn't a very good teacher. I went with a few friends from the bike racing team, one of whom had a rat with a marking that looked like a lightning bolt on it's belly.

As for the concert, I was completely underwhelmed. They failed to get the audience interested in getting up and dancing, and they weren't the kind of band that you go see, and sit back and enjoy their talent on their instruments. Maybe I should have been stoned. I remember that they did a cover of Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" which was pretty meh. I don't know if they were just having a bad night, or that was just how they were (the reviewer at the Aggie blamed the audience), but after that show, I never payed any more attention to them. There were plenty of interesting and talented bands and musicians to see and spend my hard earned money on, like The Beat Farmers or Richard Thompson. When I went to see them, I really really wanted to like them, but they failed to capture my interest.

Watching some of these videos, they still don't do anything for me.
posted by Eekacat at 2:33 PM on July 5, 2012

One of the best shows I ever saw in my gigging life was CVB in Lincoln, NE in, what, 1987? This was a twin bill concert weekend as REM played the night before on the Document tour. CVB played the Centennial on UNL's campus and I remember feeling the place seemed a bit empty.

So the way the Centennial was usually laid out, you walked in through a set of doors on the south end of the hall and the stage was set up on the north end. Backstage was actually just the other side of one of the dividers that ran across the room. The place wasn't really designed for stage shows and there wasn't really any concept of house lights. It was dim inside--the only lighting coming from wall sconces that, because of the hugeness of the place--were no where near the stage and center of the room.

I don't know if it was because of the lighting or the kind of crowd or whether there was just really good weed in Lincoln that weekend because even as the start time came and went the crowd never really got restless. There wasn't the usual yelling and loud conversation that I usually hear at shows either.

Through the muted conversations a distant violin started up. As it got closer I was hearing an evocative melody that sounded nothing if not Romani. The big doors behind us--the same ones we came through on the way to the show--opened and then CVB wandered in from behind the crowd. It took several minutes for them to make their way up to the stage at the front of the room. Each artist picked a different route through the crowd, meandering through and around the groups of people there to see them. The whole time they were playing this awesome gypsy melody.

I admit this was early in to my gigging life and I was definitely not jaded about shows, but my middle-late teens self was absolutely transfixed by the experience. All I had heard of CVB prior to that night was the ubiquitous Take the Skinheads Bowling. A friend and co-worker who was a year older and much better plugged into the CMJ scene made a few dozen mix tapes for me and this was one of the tracks on one he had given to me a few weeks before the show.

I don't remember a whole lot about the show itself because it basically blew my young mind. I'm also pretty sure it was the only trip through Lincoln they made because I would have made any subsequent show or died trying. Cracker was an okay second offering in my opinion and I certainly didn't begrudge them that success. Oddly, I never forgave REM for everything after Green...and I hated Green until I compared it to what came after.

Also hearing the Lowrey thing a few weeks ago was sad.

At any rate, thanks for the links. It was an enjoyable trip down memory lane. I think I owe a lot of my gigging life through the 80s and 90s to the magic of that show.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:49 PM on July 5, 2012

Tons of CVB live shows at the Internet Archive.
posted by LarryC at 10:30 PM on July 5, 2012

Somehow I missed the Lowery thing, whatever that was. Can someone pls clue me in?
posted by msalt at 12:19 AM on July 6, 2012

msalt: enjoy (or not - I gather the thread got fairly heated - there was a MeTa about it).
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:32 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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