Wednesday, April 9, 2014

12 O'Clock Track: 'Lies to Live By,' a lost classic from a young Jim Jarmusch

Posted By on 04.09.14 at 12:00 PM

del_byzanteens_lies_to_live_by.jpg
Coming soon there's a new Jim Jarmusch film called Kissing Vampires, starring Tilda Swinton, and I can't wait to see it—c'mon, a Jarmusch vampire movie with Tilda Swinton? When I think of Jarmusch I sometimes think of Lies to Live By, one of the many records I've sold during periodic purges of my collection—that decision still stings.

These days some of us have heard the director's satisfying guitar duets with Jozef Van Wissem, but for me his best work as a musician was with the Del-Byzanteens, the band responsible for the 1982 album I hawked when I was a dumb college student. They were a cool, arty new-wave pop band, and inexplicably none of their original recordings have been reissued, aside from a track or two turning up on compilations.

There are many tunes on Lies to Live By that burned their way into my memory nearly 30 years ago. I first heard the music when I was a high school student who got a genuine education in interesting music from listening to Princeton University's great radio station WPRB. So it was hard to pick just one song for today's 12 O'Clock Track, but the album's title track—with its wobbly guitar arpeggios, strummed bass line, and masterfully deployed hand claps—won out. Check it out after the jump, and keep your fingers crossed that someone will finally bring this stuff back into circulation.

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