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Album 14 of 500: Beat Happening – Dreamy

April 28, 2010

BAND:  BEAT HAPPENING
ALBUM:  DREAMY
LABEL: K Records
RELEASE DATE: 1991

Calvin Johnson is untamed. A legend among indie rock, Johnson is the founder of the legendary Beat Happening, and co founder of K records. In 1991, Johnson’s band, Beat Happening released their fourth album, Dreamy. Beat Happening formed in Washington state in 1982, along with Bret Lunsford and Heather Lewis, who is the female vocalist of Beat Happening. Simple and great, Beat Happening is truly one of the greatest influenical acts of the indie movement.  Beat Happening is right up there with the Shaggs and influenced many acts such as Nirvana and the Thermals. Johnson’s voice is so different and deep that anything you will ever hear.  The man taps into your soul and leaves a permanent mark. Dreamy is a lo fi dream come true.  The 31 minute album is a throw back to the beat generation, with a sound that could match 60s garage. Calvin doesn’t really sing, but he tells you about naughty girls, failed dreams and crying for someone who wouldn’t give you the time of day. Way before Patti Stanger was calling redheads ‘fire crotch bitches’ on Bravo’s the Millioniare Matchmaker, Johnson was giving us a full warning in “Red Head Walking”.  “You bet you’re gonna lose it to that hellbound crimson glory/ Red head walkin/Red head walkin/Heed what this wise man says/Keep away from red heads.”

Oddly enough, the self titled song, “Dreamy” didn’t make the album, yet shows up on a 2003 collection of the band’s career, Music to Climb the Apple Tree By.  Dreamy opens with Johnson telling the world, he is untamed and looking for love, in “Me Untamed.”   Lyrics such as, “Hey ugly duckling, let’s get lost tonight” shows Calvin Johnson lyrics are bizarre and semi juvenile.  Perhaps a play on words in response to Johnny Cash’s lyric, “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die,” can be found in  “Revolution Come and Gone”. “Got a girl in Reno just to watch her cry,” An audio modern day Holden Caulfield.  “Cry For a Shadow,” shows Calvin’s bark is worse than his bite, with lyrics such as, “Every drop of your precious tears/When you’re crying for a shadow/Crying for a shadow/Like I cried for you.”  Heather Lewis sings lead vocals on three of the ten songs, “Left Behind,” “Collide” and “Fortune Cookie Prize.” These songs are love anthems for shy gals, “Fortune Cookie Prize,” being the best and probably dominated mix tapes made by girls for their crushes in 1991.  Dreamy is by far one of the best indie lo fi albums of all time, the Beat Happening revolution may have came and gone, but this album will always be dreamy.

RM CRESSER © 2010 500 Rad Records

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