The above is a picture of an the cover of album that was released by in 1987.
Chronic Citizens were a five-piece indie/punk/garage band out of New York City.
They were fronted by Greg Englesson, who went by the alias of Mr E and this was long before Mark Everett of Eels took a similar name. Greg is still active all these years later, with his website descibing him as:-
“…. an alternative troubadour performing original, topical, high energy acoustic songs that are entertaining and thought provoking. “Sometimes political, sometimes comical, sometimes mystical, but usually danceable”. Equally at home in the intimacy of a coffee house or all out “balls to the wall” in any size club or festival. “He’s a funky, rootsy, rock and roll show”. Influenced by the Beat Poets, BeBop, Punk Rock, Rap, Blues, Anti-Folk, Soul and Funk. (All rolled into an enigmatic, unique form of self-expressed realness.)”
He moved from Boston to NYC in the mid 80s and in due course founded Chronic Citizens, going on to produce their debut album Capital Cult which enjoyed a distribution deal in the US and Europe. There was some positive press in the UK and seemingly the band were an underground hit in the USSR, with the album turning up on home-copied cassette tapes. Sadly, the group never got much beyond cult status before calling it a day with the other members going off and doing different things.
The bass player became a lawyer over on the west coast of the States. And a very friendly lawyer at that. His first name is Jonny and I’m chuffed to say that he’s someone who has long been a very good friend of this blog, contributing in all sorts of ways via his observations, comments and guest pieces, such a just 48 hours ago with his second ICA on Elvis Costello
There’s a particular reason for featuring Chronic Citizens today.
In a few hours time, myself and Rachel (aka Mrs Villain) will be heading down to Barcelona for a three-day trip, during which we will be spending a fair bit of time with Jonny the Friendly Lawyer and his wife, Goldie the Friendly Therapist, as the latter is celebrating a significant birthday with a trip to Spain, including a few days in Barcelona.
All four us are very excited about it. I spent a few hours in Jonny’s company a couple of years ago (as recounted on the blog) but this is upping the ante a fair bit as we have plans in place for food, drink, sightseeing and taking in the Barcelona v Valencia football match on Saturday evening. Some of the conversation may centre around music….
I’ve long wanted to post a song or two by Chronic Citizens. The album, for the most part is a high-tempo effort, with nine songs coming in at just over 35 minutes. It would be stretching it a little to say that it should be an essential part of everyone’s record collection, but there are enough moments to make it an enjoyable listen, capable of being returned to every now and again.
The former, written and recorded at a time when Starbucks was a company with just six stores in Seattle, is the tale of someone who can’t function without having a cup of instant coffee close to hand. It’s incredible to think that all those years ago the drink was so out of fashion, with sales falling constantly throughout the early 80s. Greg’s delivery of the lyric just stays this side of manic.
The latter is the most enduring and accessible of their tunes, one that I imagine would have got the audiences at the gigs on their feet (and they were a band who played a number of famous NYC venues, including CBGBs).
The regular features will be appearing as scheduled over the weekend. I’ll be back in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon when I’ll get to work in pulling together some words of the adventures in Catalonia. I’m expecting our lawyer friend to be dressed slightly more stylishly than he did in 1987.