Album Review: Jonathan Richman – Ishkode! Ishkode! by Brian McConville
I recall the very day when I was first introduced to Jonathan Richman.
Sometimes I wish I could say it was because I came across a Modern Lovers album at a young age, but the truth is, I learned of him in the mid-90s thanks to Repo Man on VHS. As many of you know, there was a Modern Lovers song on the soundtrack and I fell in love with it instantly.
That was a long time ago and I have never stopped being a fan. So I am sure you can imagine how stoked I am to have been given the opportunity to review Richman’s latest release titled Ishkode! Ishkode!.
I have to admit though, I have been sitting on this review for a few weeks now as I wanted to make sure I said the right words as this artist is so important to me.
So here I am pondering and making a big deal about an album by a guy who has inspired me to be myself. After listening to this album probably for the 100th time, I felt today was the day to share.
Ishkode! Ishkode! dropped last month on Cleveland’s very own Blue Arrow Records. This is Richman’s first release in over six years and was well worth the wait. Assisting Richman on this release was Tommy Larkins, Lisa Marie, Kelly Brown, and a handful of other friends.
Starting off the album was “Woah! How Different We All Are!”, a more underground, beatnik sounding track that had Richman and crew taking a darker approach. Not goofy by any means but certainly something Warhol would have been a fan of.
“Ishkode! Ishkode!” carried the style Richman has presented over and over I have grown to appreciate. I loved when Richman, once warmed up, just went on a mini tangent with some amped up guitar playing.
I heard “Wait! Wait!” last year when Richman dropped a pair of 45s via Blue Arrow Records. This track is so fun it is ridiculous. I hate to repeat myself, so go check out what I said about it previously. I also talk about “O’Sun!” too.
“‘a Nnammurata Mia” which translates to My Beloved, was easily my favorite track off the entire album. I felt like I was on vacation listening to it as Richman swooned me away in Italian and English. Seriously though, Richman displayed himself to me in a new level on this song while blending the two languages so perfectly. It was beautiful.
The love fueled “Let Me Do This Right!” should be the soundtrack for all mantra. Even though it was the quickest song on the album, it was gentle, repetitious, and honest.
“Outside Oduffy’s” just had me smirking the entire time the song played. This was a comical track that just had me visualizing Richman talking to a girl outside of a pub, falling head over heels in 10 minutes. This was Richman storytelling at it’s finest. Having the ladies sing along made it that much better.
“Longtemps” returned back to that vacation feeling I had earlier with the versatile Richman showing his true talent in a different tongue – French to be exact. Originally written by Charles Trenet in 1955, Richman covered it quite well.
Closing the album was “Mother I Give You My Soul Call”, a chant written by Paramahansa Yogananda. It is beyond why Richman chose this song to cover, but it was absolutely captivating to listen to. The sitar playing over the low toned instrument that escapes me at this time (please feel free to help me out here) was calm and relaxing to listen to while Richman recited the chant. This was an incredibly unique listen.
For anyone who is a fan of Richman, listening to this album was an experience of its own. At first, I could not place my finger on some of the tracks and felt Richman was just doing something different because he can, but as I listened more and more, it made sense to me. This album was Richman continuing his legacy as a musician and merely enhanced his talents. It’s a fantastic release.
Head over to Blue Arrow Records to order a copy of Richman’s new album. If you are lucky enough to live in Cleveland, just take some time and visit their brick and mortar store. You will not be disappointed. I always enjoy my visits there and you can just pick up a copy of the LP yourself.