Sunday, September 21, 2008

Henry Badowski: Life Is A Grand...

Henry Badowski: Life Is A Grand...

How this absolutely delightful pop confection has managed to stay virtually unknown for the last 25 years is a complete mystery to me. I first heard it in the summer of 1984, via a guy I worked with in a gas station who was a rabid collector of obscure records. His father was a senior VP at the major oil corporation that owned the station, and provided him with the company stock that he would cash in regularly to feed his habit, typically spending upwards of $300 a week on new vinyl. He was so deeply obsessed with industrial music that even his "supplier," the owner of the record store where spent most of money, said "I don't know why he doesn't just hang a microphone in his refrigerator." But I digress...

On a planet more just than ours, this near-perfectly-crafted album would have raced to the top of whatever charts, um, chart that sort of thing. The melodies are indelible, the lyrics droll and often surreal, the vocals charismatic in a wry, low-key way. Not a lot is known about the modest creator -- Jim Greer's entry at Trouser Press is typical:
Badowski — who's played with Wreckless Eric, Chelsea, the Doomed and the Good Missionaries — has a deep, pleasant, near-conversational voice that's almost always on key plus a dry and/or whimsical sense of humor. Except for guitar and violin, Henry plays every note here (even drums and sax), often with simple eloquence, on songs about getting married and swimming with fish in the sea.
Henry's discography page at IRS Corner is rather more extensive, but still not exactly voluminous. The album seems to have come into being as a result of his involvement with the aforementioned punk/new wave luminaries, but surprisingly, was apparently indifferently received commercially despite it's ability to charm virtually everyone who ever heard it. (Given that IRS Records released it in 1981, they might have considered much below Police-level sales to be unacceptable.) It certainly made an impression on me; though I sold my original copy years ago during one of my frequent material purges, I was somehow unable to get those songs out of my head, and a couple years ago became obsessed with finding another copy.

While I was desperately trying to re-acquire the album, I emailed Henry himself inquiring after buying a CD, and about his current creative endeavors. He replied:
Always happy to hear that people liked what I did.

Universal own the rights to LIAG so I really don't
know what to recommend.

I'm still working on new stuff, but I'm a bit slow.
I set up in case I actually finished
anything, but I'm afraid I haven't been professionally
involved in music for a long time and bills need to be

It will happen, though. Sooner rather than later I hope.

Best regards
So that's that... another brilliant creative enterprise consigned to the scrap heap of history. Well, not if I can help it. Eventually I located a copy, which I present here for your pleasure. Should Universal ever come to their senses and properly reissue this, I'll pull this page down immediately and personally buy ten copies of the CD. Until then, check out the equally endearing single Making Love With My Wife which now appears on the new wave obscurity compilation 7" UP, download the long out-of-print LP here, send Henry some positive reinforcement in the hopes that he shares his music with the world again, and enjoy the sweet taste of life's grandeur....

Henry's In Love:


Anonymous said...

why do people still insist on using rapidshare when sites like mediafire are free, no wait time, no limits no nothing.


aside from that thanx for taking the time to encode the vinyl and share this.

Festus Von Gunsmoke said...

Why do people insist on complaining about things they get for free?

Anyway, thanks for the tip, I'll look into Mediafire. And you're welcome...

mug said...

Thanks, fabulous LP. Um, I figured I'd let you know there's a problem with the "Baby, Sign Here" track.... But I'm not complaining. ;)

Festus Von Gunsmoke said...

Crap! Thanks for letting me know, mug. I'm out of town but will fix it when I return.

mug said...

My pleasure. Great blog you got going on here. Cheers!

Dave C said...

Hello, found your site while looking for a download of "Life is a Grand". Yours is a much cleaner version than Egg City's, but still has a problem with "Baby, sign here with me".

That said, thanks for the post.

I effin' LOVE this LP. I had it when it first came out, but all my wax is in my sister's attic many, many miles away. These tunes really do stick in your a good way.

Nobody else brings it up, but am I the only one who hears early Eno pop (e.g. Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mtn.), especially the vocals? That stuff was killer too.