Sunday, July 09, 2006

Lyres: "She Pays The Rent"


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"

Band lineup:
  • Jeff Conolly - vox, organ
  • danny McCormack - guitar
  • Paul Murphy - drums
  • Rick Coraccio - Bass, backing vox

Reference:
Lyres Discography and source of 12" photo above

Bonus Links:


5 comments:

sean said...

I really like your site - many memories and all that.

Saw the Lyres loads of times, always a good show. Always went well with the beer anyway. The Nomads cover is good but check out the Lyres own "cover" of it on Lyres Lyres, which is pretty cool also.

Any chance you have Big Dipper's Craps on disc?

Jim H said...

Sean,

Not sure what you mean. "She Pays the Rent" was written by Jeff Conolly. Both versions are good but I like the original best.

sean said...

Jim,

I just noticed you didn't mention their other version of it. I called it a "cover" because it was such a radically different version. I'm with you though - I dig the original more and the Nomads version is swinging.

Thanks again for your blog - I love it.

Anonymous said...

Also a huge Lyres fan here. One of the nicest moments of my life was stopping in at L.A.'s Al's Bar, with my dad of all people (he was kind of a bohemian guy in his own way), when the Lyres launched into "She Pays The Rent." I was psyched, and dad liked it too.

By the way, if you could shed light on what, if anything, the Lyres or Jeff Connolly is doing now, I'd much appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

First off, thanks for the blog!

I agree that "Rent" is a little different from the rest of their catalog. It has a more poppy, upbeat, un-monochromatic sound to it. I love it, but then I also love most of the rest of their garagey-sounding stuff. It was nice when they'd bust "Rent" out towards the end of a show. The "Live At Cantones" album has a great version of this song, plus a bunch of other good ones. Definitely my favorite Lyres lp.

Not a big fan of the "soul version" on Lyres Lyres though... and I agree with the "eh" on "Help You Ann". It's a nice enough song but I don't see why some hold it up as the crowning Lyres achievement.