I first heard Jonathan Richman on the Beserkely Chartbusters album, which included some new Modern Lovers (not the original band) recordings with some of the other bands the Beserkely label were offering. This was the first recorded version of Roadrunner, in 1975, to be released.
In 1976 Beserkely licensed the John Cale produced Modern Lovers sessions and released them. I have no idea which version John Lydon heard before his audition, but the Cale version, titled “Roadrunner (Once)” was a hit in England in 1976. But some NYC record mavens were listening the year before, especially to the tunes Government Center and New Bank Teller, which were different.
But Beserkely was created mostly out of frustration that a Bay area rock band called Earth Quake wasn’t breaking large. The first single the label released was Earth Quake’s version of the Australian band the Easybeat’s 1967 hit Friday On My Mind.
This live version is less, um, concise than the single, but I have to say, for me this is rock ‘n’ roll and remnants, too. I love this band and the video. Less so the pants.
But if it’s Friday, we shouldn’t ignore the far more economical and Mod Australian Easybeats version.
It is a great song. Portugal. The Man should cover it. Or Lorde.