Ignored Obscured Restored
One of the “best albums you’ve never heard” is Are You Serious? (1977), by Van Duren. Especially if you are a power pop fan (as I am). There isn’t a self-respecting list of the greatest power pop albums of all time that doesn’t include Are You Serious?. But that should be no surprise given that Doren came from the same Memphis scene that birthed Big Star.
The smart, pop of the tracks on Are You Serious? will remind you of Duren’s contemporary, Emitt Rhodes. And like Rhodes, Duren played most of the instruments on the album — in fact pretty much everything except drums.
So the date on the calendar compels me to choose “New Year’s Eve” as today’s SotW. But YouTube only has a link to the whole album, so here it is!
It’s a love song that recounts a relationship that starts at a teenage New Year’s Eve party.
The rest of the album is equally as infectious and should be auditioned by all SotW readers.
Duren followed up his debut with another fine record – Idiot Optimism. But due to some shady business involving his recording studio owner and producer, Scientology, and bad luck, Idiot Optimism languished in the vaults until it was finally released in 1999, 20 years after it was finished!
A documentary was released this year called Waiting: The Van Duren Story. It was made by two Australians — Wade Jackson and Greg Carey – who discovered Are You Serious? and wanted to learn the story about the album’s obscurity and Duren’s abandoned career. They tracked down Duren and convinced him to cooperate with their project.
I haven’t seen it yet. It’s not currently screening anywhere, isn’t streaming on Netflix and isn’t for sale on DVD. But I will watch it as soon as it is available.
Enjoy… until next week.