Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Feelies: Crazy Rhytms 1980

The Feelies are an American rock band from Haledon, New Jersey. They formed in 1976 and disbanded in 1992 having released four albums. The band reunited in 2008, and released new albums in 2011 and 2017.

Haledon, New Jersey (USA). It's here, in this little town in the NY area, where the story began. In the mid-seventies, when the punk era was about to explode, Glenn Mercer and Bill Million started playing together in a band called The Outkids. The drummer was Dave Weckerman, while Glenn played guitar and Bill the bass guitar. They toured for a while in the area, and in 1976, when they met Keith Clayton (bass) and Vinnie DeNunzio (drums), Bill changed to the rhythm guitar and Dave to percussions: The Feelies were born.

It took some time before the band could enter a studio to record its first album. In the meantime the drummer changed again, Anton Fier joined the group. In 1978 the Village Voice dubbed the then-unsigned Feelies "The Best Underground Band in New York", and one year later they finally published their first single: Fa Cé-La (Rough Trade). Then a few months later the band signed with Stiff and in 1980 Crazy Rhythms was released.CBGB'S Flyer

It's a wonderful record, very original compared to the punk/new wave scene of those years. With nervous drumming, unconventional silences between songs, and a wonderful guitar sound, Crazy Rhythms is a masterpiece that influenced a lot of musicians: one name above the others, R.E.M.

But something went wrong. Despite the enthusiastic critics on both sides of the ocean, the record
didn't sell very well; moreover, the band didn't like to play live so they made relatively few promotional shows, and people at Stiff didn't appreciate it. And the group was not satisfied with the label too: they had the impression that Stiff was more interested in self promotion than in bands' development. These problems culminated with Stiff's total displeasure with a demo tape of new material which The Feelies sent them. So eventually  the band and the label decided to mutually part ways. By the way, several of the songs included in that demo tape later appeared on The Good Earth.

Keith Clayton quit the band and so did Anton Fier (he joined the Lounge Lizards and later he founded the Golden Palominos).
Nobody officially heard of the Feelies anymore for about 5 years. However, in this period Glenn, Bill and Dave continued to be active with new projects: first The Willies (that produced no records) and then The Trypes; here they started playing with Brenda Sauter (bass) and Stanley Demeski (drums). The Trypes made a very good EP called The Explorers Hold, four songs in a particular psychedelic mood.

Although not commercially successful, the Feelies had an influence on the development of American indie rock. Their first album, Crazy Rhythms (Stiff Records, 1980) was cited by R.E.M. as a major influence on their sound. The Feelies were influenced by the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed.

The Feelies rarely worked with outside producers although Pete Buck (of R.E.M fame) did produce one of their most successful albums. and created shimmering soundscapes with multiple guitar layers and percussion.[according to whom?] They frequently played at Maxwell's, a live music venue and
bar/restaurant in Hoboken, during the 1980s.
The band's name is taken from a fictional entertainment device described in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman and vocalist Richard Reilly began playing together in 1976 in Haledon, New Jersey in a band called the Outkids. The Outkids evolved into the Feelies with the addition of Vinny DeNunzio on drums and John Papesca on bass.

In 1978, the Village Voice dubbed the then-unsigned Feelies "The Best Underground Band in New York". With the line-up of Mercer, Million, Vinny DeNunzio's brother Keith DeNunzio on bass and Anton Fier on drums, the Feelies released their first single, "Fa Cé-La", on Rough Trade Records in 1979.
The Feelies' debut album, Crazy Rhythms, was released on Stiff Records in 1980, featuring the same line-up as on the "Fa Cé-La" Rough Trade single.

[ AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett  [-]

Even the cover is a winner, with a washed-out look that screams new wave via horn-rimmed glasses, even more so than contemporaneous pictures of either Elvis Costello or the Embarrassment. But if it
was all look and no brain, Crazy Rhythms would long ago have been dismissed as an early-'80s relic. That's exactly what this album is not, right from the soft, haunting hints of percussion that preface the suddenly energetic jump of the appropriately titled "The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness.
" From there the band delivers seven more originals plus a striking cover of the Beatles' "Everybody's Got Something to Hide" that rips along even more quickly than the original. The guitar team of Mercer and Million smokes throughout, whether it's soft, rhythmic chiming with a mysterious, distanced air or blasting, angular solos. But Fier is the band's secret weapon, able to play straight-up beats but aiming at a rumbling, strange punch that updates Velvet Underground/Krautrock trance into giddier realms.

Mercer's obvious Lou Reed vocal inflections make the VU roots even clearer, but even at this stage of the game there's something fresh about the work the quartet does, even 20 years on -- a good blend of past and present, rave-up and reflection. When the group's later label, A&M, finally got around to reissuing the album for the first time stateside, a curious bonus was included: a version of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black," recorded by the later lineup of the band in 1990. Mercer's voice is noticeably different from his decade-old self, but it's an enthusiastic rendition not too far out of place.]

The band played reunion shows in the summer and fall of 2008. A performance at Battery Park in NYC with Sonic Youth followed several warm-up shows at Maxwell's.
In June 2009, the band performed an acoustic show at the Whitney Museum. They also headlined a show at Millennium Park in Chicago.
In September 2009, they performed Crazy Rhythms live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series.


Glenn Mercer – guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion (1976–1991, 2008–present)
Bill Million – guitars, vocals, percussion (1976–1991, 2008–present)
Stan Demeski – drums and percussion (1983–1991, 2008–present)
Brenda Sauter – bass guitar, violin and backing vocals (1983–1991, 2008–present)
Dave Weckerman – percussion (1984–1991, 2008–present)


Vinny DeNunzio – drums (1976–1978)
John Papesca – bass guitar (1976–1979)
Keith DeNunzio a/k/a Keith Clayton – bass guitar, percussion, background vocals (1979–1982)
Anton Fier a/k/a Andy Fisher – drums, percussion (1978–1979)


01. The Boy With Perpetual Nervousness     5:04
02. Fa Ce-La     2:00
03. Loveless Love     5:04
04. Forces At Work     7:05
05. Original Love     2:53
06. Everybody's Got Something To Hide [Except Me And My Monkey] – (Lennon-McCartney)  4:04
07. Moscow Nights     4:21
08. Raised Eyebrows     2:59
09. Crazy Rhythms     6:05
10. Paint It Black – (Jagger/Richards)  2:54


Bass, Percussion, Vocals – Keith Clayton
Design [Cover Design] – Bill, Glenn
Drums [Drum Kit Percussion] – Anton Fier
Engineer – Brooke Delarco (tracks: 1 to 9), Don Sternecker (tracks: 10), Jim Bonnefond (tracks: 1 to 9), Tom Lazarus (tracks: 1 to 9)
Engineer [Assistant] – Julian Robertson (tracks: 1 to 9)
Guitar, Vocals, Percussion – Bill Million, Glenn Mercer
Photography – Lynne Pickering
Producer – Million, Mercer, Mark Abel (tracks: 1 to 9)
Songwriter – Bill Million (tracks: 1 to 5, 7 to 9), Glenn Mercer (tracks: 1 to 5, 7 to 9)

Recorded at Vanguard Studios, NY. Engineered by Tom Lazarus and Brooke Delarco.
Mixed at House of Music, NJ. Engineered by Jim Bonnefond and assisted by Julian Robertson.
Track 10 recorded at Mixolydian Studios, Boonton, NJ.

MP3 @ 320 Size: 102 MB
FLAC  Size: 271 MB


  1. Thanks!
    I didn't know the band

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this band! When I was in high school, I used to get teased all the time for loving the Feelies. I was listening to new wave/power pop stuff like them, Shoes, the Hitmen, Boomtown Rats, and all my friends only listened to the boring pablum on Top 40 radio. These days, I'M seen as the cool one and people make fun of the music that was "popular" back then. Looks like the tables have turned! (And I STILL listen to the Feelies, particularly this album. Sounds just as fresh and new today as it did in 1980!)

    1. Crazy Rhytms is a great reccord of course.

  3. Anton Fier was in the Feelies, the Lounge Lizards, Pere Ubu and Swans?!