I’m pretty sure that I won’t be saying anything new or different about The Feelies – I’m sure it’s all been said before since the short summation about this band is that they’re great; they’ve always been great and are not only great, but legendary. Nevertheless, their back catalog from A&M Records has now been lovingly re-issued by Bar/None; both albums – 1988’s Only Life and 1991’s Time For A Witness also come with download cards for bonus tracks, more recently recorded, and liner notes by Rick Moody and Michael Azzerad, respectively. So although that’s more than enough to buy both, a few thoughts on the actual music…
“It’s Only Life” is about a sweet a melody as you can ask for and a perfect way to open an album; the inevitable Lou Reed-styled vocal delivery can’t be overlooked but it fits the song’s mood and those little guitar fills shimmer; “Too Much” has a quasi-psychedelic and hypnotic feel; “Deep Fascination” is one of those wonderful pieces of dream-pop from the era and “Too Far Gone” is what I would call “classic Feelies” – moving along at about 100 m.p.h. on hyper-strum. Aside from an acoustic version of “It’s Only Life”, the other bonus tracks were recorded live in July 2013 during The Feelies’ farewell run at Maxwell’s before the legendary club closed its doors at month’s end.
Time For A Witness, like its predecessor, opens in fine fashion with the throttle of “Waiting” – fuzzy with an opening guitar wipe-out; the title track, “Time For A Witness” has that groovy kind of Bo Diddley-esque drum opening but then spins into a “classic Feelies” blitz – and it must be emphasized and understood that this is always a very good thing – listen to the strum and the guitar solo that fits so perfectly – like a Yardbirds rave-up; “Invitation” is a buoyantly uplifting track and melody and the closing cover of The Stooges’ “Real Cool Time” is a knockout because you know what the song IS but The Feelies make it their own. As with Only Life, the bonus downloads were recorded during the Maxwell’s farewell and the acoustic version of “Find A Way” was recorded in 2014.
There are so few bands from the past that I will continually look back to and feast on. The Feelies are one of them. They’re also one of the few bands who, in a live setting, never cease to amaze me. So if they haven’t done so already, let them amaze you.
Only Life and Time For A Witness are available now