The Lloyd Cole solo series is hopefully demonstrating that he is someone who rarely got comfortable and settled with any one genre, always looking to test and challenge himself and his fan base.
Jonathan Richman is another who has done similar over the years, particularly since he dropped the Modern Lovers moniker towards the end of the 80s.
He surprised everyone in 1990 with the release of Jonathan Goes Country. Its twelve songs included five cover versions and the musicians he brought on board for the recording included some of the best veterans of the Nashville scene. The danger of something like this is that it could end up as too much of a gimmick but what you get is quite clearly a frontman having a great time and delivering his songs in the way he always has – the exception being that his musicians bring a different set of skills and playing styles than what his fans would have been used to. But he pulls it off with style as evidenced by the album opener:-
mp3 : Jonathan Richman – Since She Started To Ride
Indeed, some of the tunes, particularly the covers, wouldn’t have been too far out-of-place on some of his other records:-
mp3 : Jonathan Richman – Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad
This is an instrumental take on a song associated with Tammy Wynette and here Jonathan adds his own rockabilly/surf style in the background to the wonderful country-style guitar lead as performed by album producer D Clinton Thompson.
Like so many other great country albums, room was made for a male/female duet, with guest vocalist Jody Ross. This turns out to be more flamenco than country:-
mp3 : Jonathan Richman – The Neighbors
And, finally, for fun, here’s Jonathan’s effort at writing and recording a song in the style of Johnny Cash:-
mp3 : Jonathan Richman – You’re Crazy For Taking The Bus
The entire album is a little over 30 minutes in length. It’s not an essential one to own, but it is worthy of the occasional listen.