Jim Basnight has been around for a long time, and has always made music I really like, these three new singles – "Genius of Love," "Ugly Side," and "Lose Me" – being the latest. If you’re new to him, start here. You will have a good time listening.
Jim was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
Andrea Weiss: Tell us more about Seattle-NY-LA, which features these songs?
Jim Basnight: It's the best recordings and songs by the band known as Jim Basnight and the Moberlys or the Moberlys, which featured the late Dave Drewry on drums. It was the version of the band, after the original band, but it lasted much longer. Dave and I started playing together in 1981 and parted ways in 1989. The other players were mainly Glenn Oyabe on guitar and harmony vocals and Toby Keil on bass and harmonies, but there were others. The late Ben Rabinowitz played lead guitar on “I Need Your Love" and “I Wanna Be Yours." Roger Burg played keyboards on “Your Fool" and keyboards and backing vocals on “Genius of Love.” Jeremy Bar-illan played guitar and sang backups on “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True." Roger Moutenot played organ on “You Came and You Conquered." Harlan Hollander sang backups on “Summertime Again." Al Bloch played bass and sang backups on “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True." Jay Work played saxes on “Ain't It Funny." The album was produced by a variety of producers, including Peter Buck of REM, Moutenot, Hollander, Dave Ogilvie, Lindsay Kidd, J.B. Bauerlien, Ron Woods, Ian Gardiner, Edwin DeShazo and Dean Chamberlain. It was recorded in LA mostly, but “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True" were recorded in NY. The band was based in NY from 1980 to 1984, but those were the only tracks which made this collection. The band was based in Seattle from 1984-85, but all of the tracks included here were recorded in Vancouver, BC. Those tracks included, “I Wanna Be Yours," "I Love You So," "Alone with Her," and “I Need Your Love." To summarize, the band lived in three places, which all made important impressions on the music. Some might say that our sound had a common thread, but our environment influenced the sound to me. We were all Seattle guys, so that influence of bands like the Sonics, the Raiders, the Heats, and the Modernettes followed us. So did NYC influences such as Lou Reed, the Heartbreakers, Blondie, the Dolls, the Shangri-Las, and the Ramones. LA brought its influences too, such as the Plimsouls and the classic LA power pop sound of the late 70's, and more twangy guitar acts such as the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. In general, the band had it all, but also had a common thread of a certain recognizable strain of two guitars and harmonies Beatles/Stones, but definitely on the pure pop side of all of the above.
AW: These songs have a mid 60s British Invasion feel to them, which I like, and they also sound 70s punk. Which of these styles is a greater inspiration for you, or are you after an equally melded sound?
JB: I'd say they're equal. Definitely not 90s or, for the most part, 80s, unless you want to include some of the bands I've already mentioned, or others such as The Hoodoo Gurus and the Replacements. The big musical movements which influenced me in life were:
The golden age of rock and roll, especially Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard. The folk era of Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger. The British Invasion, especially the Kinks, but also the Who, the Small Faces, and a number of others, including those I've already mentioned. The garage acts of the 60s, especially the NW acts, but also the Standells and the type of acts spotlighted by Lenny Kaye's Nuggets album. The psychedelic era, notably Hendrix, the Airplane, and others I've mentioned. 60s pop, such as the Buckinghams, the Grass Roots, The Classics IV and others I've mentioned.Glam rock, such as T-Rex, Bowie, Mott, and others I've mentioned. Early Power Pop, such as Badfinger, Flaming Groovies, and the Raspberries. Punk Rock, the 1977-78 edition, such as Generation X, the Dead Boys, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and others I've mentioned. Finally the late 70s and early 80s NW sound and LA sound of the Cowboys, the Last, and other bands I've mentioned.
The psychedelic and folk stuff didn't play into our sound much, despite the way it influenced my writing. Most of the tunes from that vein which surfaced were not what Dave was into, so I did them solo, or occasionally as a duo with Glenn.
AW: All are about love gone wrong. Is that an easy topic to write about?
JB: If you're talking about the latest set of tunes I've sent out as recommended airplay tracks, basically a second EP of tunes from the album after the first I sent out ("Summertime Again," "Tonight," "Rest Up," and "She Don't Rock"), two of them arguably are about love gone wrong. Those are "Genius of Love" and "Ugly Side." "Lose Me" is a very positive love song about how full and rich one feels to be in the arms of the one they love. "Genius" is about losing, by being tricked into believing there was reciprocal love, but who cares because the ride was so darn fun. "Ugly Side" is dark, but uplifting in the sense that it's an admission to oneself that mere lust is not good enough and that is not a choice, though I've been there, that I am looking to make. I think there are a lot of songs which could be interpreted as love gone wrong on this album (though there are a few which are just plain fun and others like "Lose Me," such as "What I Wouldn't Do" which are clearly songs about romantic fulfillment), but I see the hopefulness behind the feelings of loss or disappointment. I think the band's sound and mood are one of eternal hope and optimism in the search for love and the respect for love, despite the obstacles.
AW: Where can Seattle-NY-LA be found?
JB: It's available to stream or download nearly everywhere you can do that. The place to go for the best price is here, where it was first released in early 2021:
It hasn't been made available on CD or LP yet. That may happen in the near future, as might also the Makin' Bacon album I released later in 2021.