Maureen Tucker


Band members                             Related acts

- Maureen Tucker -- vocals, guitar, drums, percussion

 

  supporting musicians:

- Hank Breckmeyer -- guitar, backing vocals

- Jud Fair -- guitar, percussion, backing vocals

- Don Fleming -- backing vocals

- Kim Gordon -- percussion, bass

- Daniel Johnston -- backing vocals

- Joe Martinelli -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Kate Messer -- guitar, backing vocals, percussion

- Thurston Moore -- guitar

- Lou Reed (RIP 2014) -- guitar

- Lee Ranaldo -- guitar

- Steve Shelley -- drums, percussion

 

 

- Between Meals

- The Kropotkins

- Paris 1942

- The Velvet Underground

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Life In Exile After Abdication

Company: 50 Skidillion Watts

Catalog: 1753-80107-1
Year:
 1989

Country/State: Levitton, New York

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1251

Price: $35.00

 

C'mon, wouldn't you like to be the only person in your state that's actually heard this album, let alone owns a copy ?   

 

Released 8 years after her solo debut, 1989's "Life In Exile After Abdication" found Tucker trying to make a go of life as a single mom, while working a nine-to-five blue collar job.   Somehow she found time to get signed to the Maryland-based 50 Skidillion Watts label.  Self-produced, the album offered up an odd mixture of autobiographical originals ('Hey Mersh'! and 'Work'), a Velvet Underground tune ('Pale Blue Eyes') and a couple of eclectic covers ('Bo Diddley').  The album included guest appearances from former band mate Lou Reed, as well as most of the Sonic Youth crew who brought their '80s punk credentials to the party.  Anyhow, anyone contemplating this purchase already knows Tucker's history and is going to be aware of her strengths and weaknesses as a performer.  You certainly wouldn't buy this expecting to hear commercial dance music ...  Similarly you wouldn't buy this expecting to hear diva-styled over-singing.  What you might have expected to hear was some of Tucker's idosynchratic drumming.  Wrong again.  For whatever reason Tucker elected to abdicate the drum chair in favor of focusing on vocals and acoustic guitar.  Tucker certainly didn't have the most impressive voice you've ever heard, but then how may rockin' grandmas did you know?   As a writer she was definitely quirky.  Quirky certainly wasn't bad - in this case 'Hey Mersh!' and 'Talk So Mean' (the latter with Sonic Youth), were great little rockers.  Add in her insights about day-to-day life living on the edge of poverty and you had a collection that was intriguing.  Certainly not something you were going to play every day, but kind of neat.

 

"Life In Exile After Abdication" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hey Mersh!   (Maureen Tucker) - 3:13

"Hey, Mersh, let's go to the mall ..." No idea what the song's really about ...  a shopping spree she couldn't afford on her WalMart salary ?   Ultimately, kicked along by Lou  Reed's powerhouse fuzz guitar it really didn't matter.  Would have made a dandy B-52s hit.   The song was actually released as a 12" single with 'Talk So Mean' being the flip side.   rating: **** stars

2.) Spam Again  (Maureen Tucker) - 5:23

I'm certainly not a Tucker expert, but I believe she worked in a Georgia WalMart for a couple of years.  Judging by this tune, the experience seems to have left her slightly disenchanted with bix box capitalism..  Maybe it's just be, but that seems to be a curious  stance given her recent affiliation with the Tea Party (which would seem to be all for WalMart-styled capitalism).   As for the song, well it had a breezy, easy-going melody kicked along by Tucker's sing-song vocals.   Well it had a breezy melody until it hit the five minute mark at which point it turned into a  dischordant mess.  rating: *** stars

3.) Goodnight Irene  (Huddie Ledbetter - John A. Lomax) - 2:26

Imagine your grandma singing you to sleep ...   that's the feeling I get hearing Tucker's stripped downed acoustic version of this traditional tune.  rating: ** stars

4.) Chase (instrumental)   (Maureen Tucker - Hank Breckmeyer - Jad Fair - Kate Messer - Kim Deal - Lee Ranaldo - Thurston Moore) - 8:07

So this extended instrumental was essentially a Tucker - Sonic Youth collaboration.  I hesitate to call it a song since it sounded like a zonked out studio jam session.  I'm not even sure the players were all on the same musical page for this one.   Man there are times when eight minutes seems like a lifetime !!!  If anyone was interested, YouTube has a video clip that went with the tune.  Can't say I found it entertaining.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiqttCdwiyA&list=PLQIv9ax6ugY6OlQx3vrsJHs2nfw-QCs9y&index=6

 rating: * stars 

5.) Andy  (Maureen Tucker) - 5:07

Musically there wasn't a great deal to this one; not much in the melody, or rhythm department, but the rememberances of Andy Warhol seemed genuine and affectionate.  Take away a star for the semi-dischordant tune; give it back a star for the nice sentiments.    rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Work
  (Maureen Tucker) - 3:35

Life as a divorced single mom .... another autobiographical tune seemingly commenting on life in the lower middle class.  I gather Wal-Mart distribution centers don't pay a great deal.    Bouncy guitar powered tune with a dark edge to it.  Hum, Tucker trying to out-common-man Mellencamp, or Springsteen ?   rating: *** stars

2.) Pale Blue Eyes  (Lou Reed) - 6:42

Nice to see Tucker revisiting her Velvet Underground heritage, but I'm guessing most folks will find the original VU version (off their 1969 self-titled album), the superior tune.  Wonder if she remembered the song was written for Reed's then girlfriend ?  rating: ** stars  

3.) Bo Diddley    Eugene McDaneil) - 5:04

Surprisingly faithful to the original which meant it brought nothing to the classic tune.  rating: ** stars

4.) Talk So Mean  (Maureen Tucker) -  4:57

Roaring rock tune (most of the Sonic Youth crew on board), with a cool lyric and Tucker's sing-song voice.    rating: **** stars

5.) Do It Right   (Jad Fair - Daniel Johnston) - 3:09

Essentially a duet with Daniel Johnston who co-wrote the tune, 'Do It Right ' sounded like a couple of marginally talented high school kids performing at a parent's night talent show.   Funny tune.   rating: ** stars

 

As mentioned, a  limited edition (5,000 copies), white vinyl 12" single was released in conjunction with the album:

 

  

 

- 1987's 'Hey Mersh!' / 'Talk So Mean' b/w 'Talk So Mean' (non-LP Extended Mix)  (50 Skidillion Watts catalog number MOE 6-0)

 

 

 

 While a number of Tucker's better-known friends stopped by to help her out on these sessions -- including Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Jad Fair, and Daniel Johnston -- this album bears the unmistakable stamp of Moe's personality from start to finish, with songs about the joys of payday, the agonies and responsibilities of work, the loss of old friends, and the liberating power of stripped-down rock & roll. Tucker's songs are smart without the slightest hint of pretension, and discuss the realities of working-class life in a way you usually have to turn to country music to hear on record (punk rock may have made it fashionable to sing about the inequities of capitalism, but no one wrote about the misery of working for Sam Walton like Tucker did on "Spam Again"). And while her plain, homey voice makes her sometimes sound like the lady down the street, she can also shout with authority and enthusiasm, and she can still beat a drum kit like no one else (she's pretty good with a guitar, too). If you ask yourself, "What does a middle-aged woman know about rock & roll?" Life in Exile After Abdication answers, "In Maureen Tucker's case, more than most 20-year-old boys will ever know." It's an album that proves just how much rock & roll can say about life as a grown-up in the real world.



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