Bobby Conn’s second album “Rise Up!”, remastered and reissued by Fire. For many people – those with taste we like to think – “Rise Up!” is not only Bobby Conn’s best album but one of the most unfairly ignored LPs from the late 90s. With this newly remastered and reissued edition, Fire Records celebrates the sophomore triumph by cult Chicagoan Conn, and hopes to introduce his singular vision to a whole new audience.
Conn was foremost amongst a clutch of American songwriters who realised the fracturing effect that MP3 culture would have on modern music, propelling us into a truly post-generic age. “Rise Up!” mixes rumbling bass cone shredding electronica, sleek Prince inspired funk rock, breezy Carnaby Street pop, blazing FM punk, lusty cabaret, tumescent classic rock and New Orleans jazz in a manner that suggests that Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal was paying close attention. Like Jarvis Cocker and Lawrence from Felt, Conn is obsessed with the minutiae of 1970s musical culture above and beyond tacky afro wigs and Karl Douglas’s ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ which is why this album, from its baroque prog to its stack heeled glam stomp, feels so right. But unlike other revivalists he wasn’t just interested in kitchen sink drama or kitsch nostalgia. In fact, given that Armageddon is the theme of this concept album, nothing could be further from the truth. And when BC wails, “The United Nations… under the rule of Satan!” like Freddie Mercury fronting The Damned, he certainly sounds like he’s got some serious shit on his mind. Back in the day during the inevitable and tiresome panic over Conn’s status as a hipster, his true genius was ignored. (Are those flute solos ironic?! Is his bowl cut a pastiche?!) But look beyond the perfectly realised musical references of this album and you will see it (just like his others) is a measured critique on American capitalism and religion… just one that sounds like it’s occurring during some kind of psychedelic/psychotic episode in a tinsel decorated roller disco. As always his sound relies on the presence of his wife Monica BouBou, to sharpen his presence with acid emphasised harmonising, piano, violin and melodica. Guitar savant Jim O’Rourke lends his skill behind the desk as well as on the six string and bass synthesizer, to a musical palate that’s already replete with flutes, clarinets, saxophones, piccolos… Those who are already familiar with this mini-masterpiece will be pleased to know that the reissue comes replete with bonus tracks, early photos and extensive liner notes. Earlier this year Bobby and The Burglars, began work on a forthcoming collection of new tunes, tentatively titled “Macaroni”. The more things change, the more, thankfully, they stay the same…