Thursday, September 25, 2008

Maureen Tucker - Playin' Possum

Unfortunately, my fellow music bloggers have not followed my selfless, high-minded lead, and have refused to suspend their blogging activities until the financial crisis is solved. My friends, these bloggers have betrayed the public trust. Their selfishness and hatred for all things good and decent has forced me to continue blogging. Just remember, if we plunge into an economic depression, it's their fault, not mine.

Is there is a musician less pretentious than Mo Tucker? I can't think of any. Mo was the heart and soul of the Velvet Underground. Even when their music leaned hard toward the experimental and the avant-garde, Mo's drumming was always simple and direct, preventing the music from becoming academic and tedious. It's not surprising then that her solo work would be so primitive and nakedly honest.

Released in 1982, a full twenty ten years after she last performed with the Velvet Underground, Playin' Possum was Mo's first solo album. After the sad, unnecessarily protracted, implosion of the Velvet Underground, Mo had kept a low profile musically. She got married, moved to Phoenix and raised a family. But she wasn't dead musically, she had only been playing possum, as this delightful album makes clear. Playin' Possum was a real one woman show, Mo recorded it at home and played all the instruments herself. Here's how she describes the album:

I'm very proud of this record!! I recorded it alone-in my living room-on a four track. I spent months on it since at that point I had 5 kids, four of them under 6 and one brand new. So I like to say that I recorded this between diaper changes. And its true! One of my favorite reviews described "I'll be your baby tonight" as -- Maureen performs radical surgery on I'll etc. without benefit of anesthesia!!! I loved that and as you can see, still remember it word for word. I love my sax solo on Louie, Louie. I don't know how to play sax so I learned the 3 or 4 notes that would go with the chords and just blasted off! All in all, I think it's a real fun album.

It is a real fun album, and in many ways truer to the spirit of the Velvet Underground than any of Lou Reed's solo work. Mo's cover of "Bo Diddley" is so raw and primitive it makes the original sound like progressive rock.

Original copies of this album are very difficult to find, and it has never been reissued on CD, but if you send her $8 Mo will send you a cassette copy of the album ($7 if you send her a cassette). She'll even autograph it for you if you ask. How cool is that?


Anonymous said...

It is stated in your blog that the record was released 20 years after she stopped playing with the VU, but it should really be 10! :D

Pete Bilderback said...

Wow, I must have counted each finger twice when I did the math on this. 10 years is right, sorry for the mistake. I'll fix it.