Camper van Beethoven
Popular Songs (Cooking Vinyl)
It’s time to say it: Camper van Beethoven was one of the great bands of the ’90s. They had a wacky sense of humor that sometimes delivered serious observations. They were a collective, a true band with various songwriters and multi-instrumentalists contributing to a sound that couldn’t be categorized because it took in so many influences.
new retrospective CD shows the band in all its glorious, almost gonzo
diversity. They recorded Balkan ska (“Skinhead Stomp”) and Mexican ska (“Border
Ska”), psychedelia (“Circles”) and hardcore (“Club Med Sucks”), Appalachian
country (“Sad Lover’s Waltz”) and violin-powered prog (“The History of Utah”).
There was usually an exuberance underlying the irony, a yearning melody undergirding
the comedy. Through it all, Camper van Beethoven managed to pull many thre
Surprise: The handful of re-recorded tracks on Popular Songs actually sounds pretty good, even if it could be a lame move to push sales. Although Camper echoed the ethos of ’90s college rock, their songs remain timeless. The refrain of “Ambiguity Song,” which runs, “Everything seems to be up in the air at this time,” perfectly sums up the national mood 20 years after it was recorded.