Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Call - Modern Romans

Hailing out of San Francisco, the Call was made up of Michael Been (vocals and guitar), Greg Freeman (bass), Scott Musick (drums and vocals) and Tom Ferrier (guitar and vocals). Today we will give a listen to Modern Romans, their second studio album, to mark its thirtieth anniversary. This 1983 release reached number 84 on the US Billboard Album charts.

Side one begins with “The Walls Came Down”. As the album’s single which featured a popular video on MTV, it went to number 74 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 17 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. The song is a direct statement to the Cold War as well as other military hot spots around the globe in the early 80’s. One of the things I have always liked about this song is the catchy guitar riff and how the guys vary the octaves through out the song. Even the keyboards and vocals get into it on the first and second bridge respectively.

“Turn a Blind Eye” is a commentary on how many people were ignoring the injustices in the world at the time including war, poverty, hunger, and greed. I like the rapid-fire rhythm of the music here; it symbolizes a world spinning out of control with chaos.

“Time of Your Life” counters pessimistic lyrics with an up-tempo beat and a meandering keyboard melody.

The title track “Modern Romans” actually has a bit of a country-western rock thing going to it musically.

“Back From the Front” tells of a soldier who returns home but still has to wrestle with all the horrors he experienced on the battlefield.

Opening up side two, “Destination” breaks things up a bit with an up-tempo instrumental track that I find lends itself well to dancing.

“Violent Times” is a darker tune, with a slow methodic rhythm.

“Face To Face” is another confrontational number, in both music and lyrics. You cannot help but feel the tension rise in you a bit as it plays on.

“All About You” closes out the record.

Modern Times is definitely a very political album, something back in 1983 I would not have appreciated at all. Granted, I am not very political even today, thirty years later. It is just not my thing. That being said, I still appreciate the songs that the Call has presented here. I think it is a record that will continue to grow on me with each subsequent listen.


mls said...

For me, The Call didn't hit their stride until later albums like Reconciled and Let The Day Begin. Still, The Wall Came Down is one catchy anti-war blues tune. I just couldn't get into the rest of Modern Romans back in back in '83. Maybe it's time for another visit.

HERC said...

Ditto. What he said.