Jonathan Richman
The Roxy
West Hollywood, California
July 18, 1980
RG Master Cassette via JEMS
New Wave LA Series Vol. 16

Recording equipment: unknown mics and recorder

JEMS 2020 Transfer: RG Master Cassette > Nakamichi RX-505 (azimuth adjustment) > Sound Devices USBPre 2 > Audacity 2.0 capture > iZotope RX6 > iZotope Ozone 6 > CD Wave > ffmpeg > FLAC

Early Set
01 Back in Your Life
02 Rockin' Rockin' Leprechauns
03 Louie Louie
04 Buzz Buzz Buzz
05 Affection
06 Happy Birthday
07 Tallahassee Lassie
08 Egyptian Reggae (Surrender to Jonathan)
09 Up In The Sky Sometime
10 Hi Dear
11 Rollercoaster By the Sea
12 Little Latin Lupe Lu
13 Shake
14 My Love is a Flower (Just Beginning to Bloom)
15 Stop This Car
16 Roadrunner
17 The Morning of Our Lives
18 Angels Watching Over Me

Late Set
19 (cuts in) Miracles Will Start to Happen
20 Ice Cream Man
21 Hang On Sloopy
22 Stop This Car
23 (cuts in) At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama)
24 Egyptian Reggae (Surrender to Jonathan) (cuts out)

JEMS is pleased to continue a series of historic recordings made by our longtime friend and diehard music collector RG. He was on the scene in LA as a teenager, began recording shows in 1977 and continued on well into the 2000s. Our series will focus on tapes he made between 1977 and 1987.

What sort of music was he into? Well, one simple way to put it is KROQ music, meaning the bands that LA’s “world famous” new wave radio station was playing were the bands he saw and recorded. First wave if you will, with forays into indie and punk(ish) artists. The early years are dominated by UK artists breaking in the US. Over time his work expands to US bands in the second wave. Some of the artists RG taped include:

Siouxsie & the Banshees (Vol. 4)
Madness (Vol. 8)
The Specials (Vol. 6)
OMD (Vol. 10)
The Damned
The Stranglers (Vol. 1)
Public Image Limited (Vol. 3)
John Cale (Vol. 9)
The Buzzcocks (Vol. 7)
Orange Juice (Vol. 13)
Wreckless Eric
The Cramps
Johnny Thunders
Talking Heads
Iggy Pop
XTC (Vol. 2)
The Jam
The Only Ones
The Undertones
Boomtown Rats (Vol. 5)
The Birthday Party (Vol. 15)
The Penetrators
The Bluebells (Vol. 12)
The Plimsouls (Vol. 11)
Athletico Spizz '80
Killing Joke (Vol. 14)
Jonathan Richman (Vol. 16)

Later on he caught The Smiths, R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, The Replacements and many more.

RG used good, not Millard-level recording gear, which means his tapes are mostly solid and listenable, with the occasional very good one and also sorta crappy one. What makes his tapes compelling is that RG was recording in a particularly vital window of time. In many instances these were the first or second times these acts played Los Angeles. Some never did proper US tours, only playing select dates in key markets like LA or NYC. Also, for many of these gigs, RG was the only taper. He grabbed a few local radio broadcasts along the way, too.

Because these shows were almost exclusively at clubs like The Whisky and The Roxy, the sets are generally short, 45 to 60 minutes because that's what you did at The Whisky. On occasion, RG would copy his own masters to save tape and we have done our best to distinguish what’s a true master and what’s a first generation copy. If there’s a doubt, we will note it. Regardless, the series will offer the lowest generation copies available of his recordings, digitized directly for the first time from RG’s tapes which had been stored in boxes for the last 15+ years.

Volume 16 in our series offers RG’s fine recording of the mercurial Jonathan Richman at the Roxy, backed by a band but not billed as the Modern Lovers. This is one of the best quality recordings in the series so far, transferred directly from RG’s TDK SA60 master cassette. Why he didn’t record on a 90, we don’t know, but tapes were at a premium back then as we have noted before in our series.

Richman’s sets blends his quirky originals with classic rock and roll covers like “Louie Louie,” “Little Latin Lupe Lu” and “Shake,” all three of which wouldn’t be out of place in a Springsteen set list. While I never entirely got Richman, there’s not getting around how entertaining this performance is. There’s also no denying the appeal of Richman’s best known song, the garage rock, pre-punk classic “Roadrunner.”

The most detailed Richman collectors website suggests RG’s recording has circulated before, but this is sure to be an upgrade to existing copies. Also, the additional tracks we have ascribed to the late set were previously presumed to be from a show at the same venue on October 5. There is evidence supporting early and late shows did occur on July 19, and given how many times RG recorded two sets on the same night, we’re sure he did the same here.

The late set adds a couple of nice songs to the overall track list including a cover of “Hang On Sloopy” and Richman’s beloved “Ice Cream Man.”

Perhaps it is due to a simpler sound, but whatever the reason, RG’s recording is clean, clear and satisfying. Given how few recordings of his shows there are from this era, we hope Richman fans will be pleased. Samples provided.

We’re grateful to RG for letting JEMS dig into his tape boxes and pull out the assets for this series. He witnessed some amazing LA music history. Tip of the hat as well to cpscps who volunteered to handle post-production on our series which is a huge help to us and makes it possible to get more music in your hands. Stay tuned for more New Wave in LA.


Images for all shows as well as full size images for this show.

Images for this show:

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JonathanRichman1980-07-18TheRoxyWestHollywoodCA (2).jpg
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