Lyres were a Boston band I guess I never really totally fell for. Sure, I remember their live show as being pretty good (well, at times, jaw-dropping and fist in the air pounding) but for the most part you could pigeon-hole them into what was then their own unique category -- 60's Brit Invasion / Garage Rock revivalists and at the time (mid-80s) and it just wasn't what I was into (and yes, I was just a mindless sheep like everyone else, still am).
But I got this record for one song that I think I first heard at a Nomads show.
Perhaps "Help You Ann" was their most popular of the "revival" songs they did. Eh. This college radio station MP3 blog recently offered that song (and other garage revivalism rock) in case you want to sample. But occasionally, things would come together for them (or more importantly their lead man - Jeff Conolly (a.k.a. "Mono Man", ex-DMZ) - the rest of the line-up being, ah, fluid in its composition) - and he'd transcend and integrate his record collection into something verily original. And with "She Pays The Rent", the reasonable observer would observe that this seemed to be the case. The song belongs on every self-aware, with-it person's top 100 rock songs of all time, that is, if one kept such lists (and some do).
But I kept on watching and sampling their follow-up records and never found the same rush that this song gives me. Lyrics-wise, of course, it's a cool commentary on typical rocker slacker lifestyle and music-wise, it's got a great groove both between sections and within sections (the progression between lyrics in the chorus) not to mention that riff right before the verse. Recording wise, it could probably be better but the instruments (organ, guitar, bass, drums) seem perfectly astrally balanced for once.
Of the other songs on the 12", "Someone Who'll Treat You Right Now" has a sort of Graham Parker - Elvis Costello feel and is catchy enough for multiple spins and Conolly is singing his ass off but I dunno... alas, alas, the flip side ("You've Been Wrong") sounds like moldy old dog meat being slapped to the accompaniment of a worn-out organ.
If only he coulda kept that headspace a-going that Mono Man seemed to have with "Rent" ....... others seemed to recognized it, The (aforementioned) Nomads did a reverb drenched cover of the song (and obviously included it in their live sets) and the Chesterfield Kings also covered it (I won't mention the La Donnas). At any rate, Lyres have enough friends/fans in high place (kaffCosloykaff) that their major CDs seem to stay in print (including a reissue that has this 12") and iTunes has this song (sounds better than my rip, at least) and several other Lyres and Ace of Hearts releases in case this strikes your fancy and you want to hear more.
"She Pays The Rent" from 1985 Ace of Hearts Records 3-song 12"
- Jeff Conolly - vox, organ
- danny McCormack - guitar
- Paul Murphy - drums
- Rick Coraccio - Bass, backing vox
Lyres Discography and source of 12" photo above
- For laughs, here's a transcription of several phone machine messages from Jeff Conolly tilting at a Boston Phoenix rock writer.
- Noise for Heroes 1989 interview with Nick and Hans of the Nomads in which they talk about their prickly relationship with Jeff Conolly.