Camper Van Beethoven: Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart

ON THIS DATE (24 YEARS AGO)
May 24, 1988 – Camper Van Beethoven: Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# Allmusic 4.5/5 stars
Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart is an album by Camper Van Beethoven, released on this date in May 1988. It was the band’s first major-label album, and was produced by Dennis Herring, the first time the band had used an outside producer.
The lineup on the album included David Lowery on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Jonathan Segel on violin, mandolin, keyboards, guitar and backing vocals, Victor Krummenacher on bass and backing vocals, Greg Lisher on lead guitar, and Chris Pedersen on drums. It was the first Camper Van Beethoven album not to feature founding guitarist/drummer/multi-instrumentalist Chris Molla.
After a couple albums and EPs on independent labels, Camper Van Beethoven made the step up to the majors with 1988’s Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart. With their judicious mix of electric and acoustic instruments, the songs are uniformly rich and warm. This album introduced some of their finest songs, including “Eye Of Fatima,” “She Divines Water,” and “My Path Belated.” Their half-glimpsed lyrics employ oblique poetics and humor in equal measure, adding up to a winning mix of inviting sadness and gritty hope. David Lowery’s everyman-style voice is the perfect tourist in their land of semi-exotic settings–far eastern colors hop into the backseat of a rock & roll jalopy and motor around eastern Europe. This a fine and punchy quintet, unobtrusively produced and a joy to play loud. Victor Krummenacher’s bass playing is solidly inventive throughout, and Jonathan Segel’s violin is the icing on the cake.
REVIEW
by Ned Raggett, allmusic
With Lowery’s by-now more sharply sung words up front and Segel’s multi-instrumental abilities helping to lead the way, the quintet came up trumps more often than not. “Eye of Fatima (pt. 2),” for instance, could have easily fit in on most of the group’s earlier records at the start. Even so, the addition of some screaming Lisher guitar solos on top of the measured reggae/hard rock/folk stew cooked up didn’t feel anything like, say, Eddie Van Halen’s drop-in on “Beat It.” Distinctly nonrock tempos and touches run merrily rampant as always, as a listen to the fiddle, dub and brass revamp of the traditional number “O Death” demonstrates. However, the fivesome can pump it up when needed — the group’s appreciation of Led Zeppelin certainly hasn’t dimmed any, based on the majestic stomp of “Waka.” When CVB aim to create something possibly more radio-friendly, the members pull it off in their own way rather than anyone else’s. Thus, the almost anthemic “She Divines Water,” with some great Segel violin work, or the gentler groove of “One of These Days.” Add in multitudes of other joys like the fun romp “My Path Belated” and Bruce Licher’s clever cover art — at one point you see Bob Dylan looking towards a Turkish music combo in another photo with resignation — and once again CVB create an enjoyable, not-easily-pegged down listening experience.
TRACKS:
Side one
“Eye of Fatima (Part One)” – 2:37
“Eye of Fatima (Part Two)” – 2:15
“O Death” – 3:06
“She Divines Water” – 3:53
“Devil Song” – 1:56
“One of These Days” – 3:27
“Turquoise Jewelry” – 3:07
Side two
“Waka” – 2:45
“Change Your Mind” – 3:02
“My Path Belated” – 2:35
“Never Go Back” – 3:25
“The Fool” – 2:36
“Tania” – 3:46
“Life Is Grand” – 3:23

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