Sunday, 9 May 2021

Update on The Fried Chicken Band from 1979: The first time we ever met the Blues [limited]

I posted this some 4 and a half years ago and over the passing of time I've only become more convinced of the brilliance of some of the songs, although much of it is bluegrass-style folk or country that doesn't appeal to me, it might to others.  You can see the credits here on discogs.

I wish I had that time machine and I could go back in time to the late seventies and force every radio station in North America to listen to the song Haunted and play it to make it a number one hit all over the continent.  Perhaps it would have been had it been recorded in the US instead of in Germany.  It's one of about a handful of songs discovered in the period of this blog, now covering over 7 years since 2013, that I think was tragically underrated and should have become number one hit songs back in the day, songs like Mimmie, or Mach One's Fly Away, or the Banjo Man from The Exceptions come to mind though I know there are many others I've forgotten.

Again here's Haunted, and dig the incredible, gorgeous acoustic guitarwork, I get chills now every time I hear that opening:

And I will gladly say that this song has haunted me since I first heard it. I think what makes it twenty times more amazing is the fact that she wrote that song at such a young age, a song that you might recall I thought was an old folk song because its lyrics were so amazing (for ex., by Judy Collins).  (I transcribed the lyrics in the earlier post.)  It might as well have been the anthem of the whole Donald Trump era where, paradoxically, the neglected forgotten blue collar worker of middle America in his pickup truck full of ammo and guns votes for millionaire political elites who in addition to not caring anything of their situation only favour cutting taxes for enormous faceless corporations that will exploit them even further, as if they couldn't help shooting themselves in the foot in their depressed confused state in their old pickups filled with Sackler/Purdue's billionaire-making, widow-making oxycontin tablets.  It's a classic human tragedy, perhaps the classic political human tragedy (warned about by the Ancient Greeks 2500 years ago): the demagogue populist who takes advantage of the democratic system and poor people's disaffection to come to power in order to satisfy his own pathological narcissistic needs.  (Actually, it's even more common in the cult setting, e.g. scientology or more recently that weird nexvm or whatever cult.)  

Anyways back to the music.

There is another song also written by "Liz" Burns called Take Them With You (horribly misspelled on the back of the record with joke as the first word, but not on the inner label) that grew on me in the years since I first heard this album, due to the extreme depth and beauty of the lyrics combined with the harmony vocals between female and male singers who alternate stanzas (always a great touch, reminding me of for example the Jefferson Airplane I used to adore as a child).  In the case of this composition, she has made it so they are like lovers talking to each other about the breakup.  Anyone who has experienced this especially following a long relationship will understand that sentiment of taking the memories with you when you leave so you're not tortured by them alone.

Here's that track:

Every time I listen to it, I'm amazed at the depth of feeling that she & the band put into it.  And to think she was a teenager at the time!

you seem determined in your leaving, 
I can' t make you change your mind
it seems a shame I have to start out again 
without you or your love.
you could join the memories and just stay here
or hurt me by leaving them behind
just be fair and take them with you,
leave me with a little peace of mind

there's a guilt you always gave me
always had a hurt inside
think revenge is when you're walking away:
dramatic phrases, the last farewell;
well you could join the memories and just stay here
hurt me, by leaving them behind
just be fair and take them with you--
leave me with a little peace of mind

so I can't give back the things you gave me
and the times living something I never do
please don't leave with all that hate in your mind
I 'll never forget that, no matter how much I cry--

Now what prompted this is the fact the artist herself, god bless her, clarified some things in the comments section of the post I made 5 years ago, in particular:

Hi, Julian, thanks so much for this wonderful review! I was an exchange student livihg in a suburb outside of Essen when I met the other members of the band, 17 years old at the time, and we recorded it about 8 months later. Great musicians and people, and an experience I'll never forget. We're all still playing in one capacity or another, you can check out stuff I've done here:  So sweet to hear that this album made such a positive impression - it was definitely a labor of love.

Liz4 May 2021 at 10:09

And no, it's not a cover: I wrote the song when I was 15.

Prior to this, a helpful commenter had already explained:

The song is written by Elizabeth Burns. She was the singer of the band "Fried chicken band". It was a German group of the town Essen. I went with one of the members to school and own the LP. I like this LP very much, but I also think, that "Haunted" is one of the [best] songs. It's the only one LP of the band.

The other simply gorgeous track is the cover version of Jackson Browne's apocalyptic Before the Deluge.  I love his version but I think they dramatically improved on it, which is saying a lot:

I love that song.  And gotta love the electric slide guitar plus the fiddling.  Notice the adept harmony vocals too.

Think back to the times when that song was written, the 'back to nature' that led sadly to Charlie Manson, the hippie communes, etc.

Btw I think you can hear the whole album on youtube, where someone posted it a long time back.

I can't believe these artists who were unlucky enough to have bypassed fame despite their immense talent, with a song so perfect and gorgeously written it should be known, or should have been known, by every human being alive at that time, or should be played currently on satellite radio to be enjoyed by those who still listen to James Taylor or whatever similar SSW.  It would even be appropriate on the alternative folk type stations where Sarah McLachlan etc. are still played.  Then again that's the whole purpose of this blog, though it would obviously accomplish more on youtube or other such social media.

Again, note the artist site: