Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Are You Serious?
Genres: Pop, Rock
Van Duren is pure power pop. He spent time in the Memphis trenches with the big boys (Big Star, Chris Bell, The Scruffs), and knows his way around a hook and a melody as well as any of his heroes from Todd Rundgren, Paul M... more »
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Van Duren is pure power pop. He spent time in the Memphis trenches with the big boys (Big Star, Chris Bell, The Scruffs), and knows his way around a hook and a melody as well as any of his heroes from Todd Rundgren, Paul McCartney, Emitt Rhodes and on to Badfinger. He went to high school with Jody Stephens, auditioned for Big Star after Bell's departure, and was in the short-lived but legendary Baker Street Regulars with both those cats. If you think Big Star never got the props they deserved, well they're the Beatles compared to Mr. Duren. This is his debut album, originally released in 1977 on the Big Sound label, and he is no also ran, he is the real deal, power pop at its finest.
Memphis soul and pop
R. Scott | Midwest | 01/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The record business, especially in the seventies, was tough and crass. You can see why this lovely album never really caught on. At first listen it seems to be just standard Beatle styled pop; a genre that wasn't really appreciated at the time, 1976. In the nineties, alternative bands like Wilco, The Posies, Elliot Smith, The Velvet Crush, Tommy Keene, and The Pernice Brothers would put out albums that were drenched in melody but tinged with a dose of melancholia and sadness. I've seen the term "sadcore" used when describing this style of pop. I suppose that's ok, it pays homage to its predecessors that performed in the power pop genre, but has a darker more mature vision than say, The Knack. Big Star and Van Duren's Are You Serious are perfect examples of what inspired many of the indie bands performing in medium sized venues, and playing on college radio well over ten years ago.
Van Duren was in a band with Big Star's drummer Jody Stephens (who co-wrote "The Love that I Love," the final song), so the album takes on that same moody pop sound that Big Star was legendary for. Van Duren can belt out up-tempo numbers like the opener "Chemical Fire," "Yellow Light," and "New Years Eve," with respectable growl, but he can also sing ballads like "Positive," and the absolutely gorgeous "So Good to me (for the time being)" in a high register that will remind some listeners of Eric Carmen at his Raspberries best. The musicianship is tight and competent while the melodies and hooks take on the character of birds slowly soaring up into the sky. Other choice offerings from this album include "For a while," "This Love Inside," and "Ooh Babe."
Put Are You Serious on and it's easy to imagine a group of friends gathered around a bon fire on a cool early spring evening; it has that kind of warmth and intimacy. Released over thirty years ago Van Duren's Are You Serious is a timeless classic.