Dave Van Ronk maintains that before 1968 he only said of two people in the music business that they would make it: Bob Dylan in 1963 and Joni Mitchell in 1965. He says the same about two young men from Philadelphia who call themselves Good News. After hearing them on Friday night, I can see his reasons.
I was screaming about Joni Mitchell myself in '67 and '68 because although it was evident that she stood beside and apart from Dylan and above the rest of popular music, I could see her, given the rather (pardon the expression) soulless state of the business, being relegated to a small audience at this time and a great many master's theses a hundred years from now.
I am not worried about Good News, however. Tonight at Canterbury is your last chance to see them for the price; it's entirely up to you. They will be heard. If the MC5 are the logical end of rock music, Good News is simply the beginning of a new phase in popular music.
Their elements are guitar, bass, cello, two precisely close voices, a collection of simple, clear very deep and very beautiful songs, a sense of humor and good times and absolutely no crap whatsoever.
Descriptive metaphors: vocally, a little like the Bee Gees talking sense for a change. The power of Dylan without the obscurity. The lyric precision of Joni Mitchell without the drama. Musically like a Flemish master painting representationally with a restricted palette.
Friday night they achieved immediately the spontaneity that Kweskin was looking for when he came here and smothered in his own self-consciousness. Simply everybody digging it and having a good time. No trouble at all, no tension.
It has been coming for a long time. I remember Joni at Mariposa last year talking about music coming back from the dance hall into the living room, and filling it out. There is so much here, folks, that it just doesn't need to be hyped. Good news, indeed.
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