Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Santa Cruz band and the smile on my face

I can always count on CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN to put a smile on my face.
I smiled at the band's quirky songs when I heard them fresh in the early days of college radio, and I am smiling now, hearing "Take the Skinheads Bowling" and "Eye of Fatima" and the other great tunes -- included on a 2008 compilation, "POPULAR SONGS OF GREAT ENDURING STRENGTH AND BEAUTY."
Camper always seemed so representative of their hometown.
Like SANTA CRUZ, CALIF., Camper had no qualms about mingling completely disparate elements, as long as it felt right.
Take a hardcore punk song and play it like a Russian folk song? That would be Camper Van Beethoven.
"Popular Songs" is an example of Camper's outlook on music and life.
Former label Virgin would not release the rights to five of the tracks on the compilation -- including my favorite "Eye of Fatima" -- so Camper produced note-perfect re-recordings of the originals. I generally avoid compilations with re-recordings, but in this case the inclusion is barely noticeable, and it's for a good cause: The triumph of a highly original band over the unyielding power of corporate greed.
That cause is so apropos for a Santa Cruz band and also makes me smile.


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