New Jersey Stage

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Bongos To Play Final Show At Maxwell's

(HOBOKEN, NJ) -- The Bongos, the band who helped launch Maxwell's, the iconic Hoboken, NJ rock club to international prominence and the very first to play there, have reformed to play at its final show there, Wednesday, July 31. The newly revived JEM Recordings imprint will be unleashing a never-before-released Bongos album, Phantom Train October 1. Recorded in 1986, Phantom Train was restored and remixed by Bongos front man, Richard Barone, earlier this month. The record is scheduled for release on the New Jersey based label on October 1st. The band will be making a major announcement from the stage of Maxwell's, July 31st, as they play the last-ever show at the venerable club.

Having formed at the cusp of the 80's, The Bongos released their debut album, Drums Along the Hudson, in 1982. The album, compiled from a string of singles released on the U.K.-based Fetish label, instantly won favor on both sides of the Atlantic for its unusual combination of tribal rhythms, Beatlesque chord changes, and Sex Pistols overdrive. Stateside, along with comrades R.E.M. and a handful of others, the Bongos helped to create an exploding college radio market and amassed a fierce cult following. RCA Records took notice and signed the group.

The ensuing disc Numbers With Wings spawned the hit MTV video of the title song, and the new wave dancefloor smash "Barbarella." The follow-up, Beat Hotel, along with relentless touring, raised the Bongos' profile even further. Island Records then-president Chris Blackwell invited the group to his Compass Point studio facility in the Bahamas where they recorded the Phantom Train sessions. However, the group quietly split in '87, soon after Barone released his first solo album, cool blue halo, recorded live at New York's legendary Bottom Line with an all-acoustic line up. With Barone on tour as a solo artist, Phantom Train was never released, until now.

The Newark Star Ledger gushed: "The Bongos were the prototype for the thousands upon thousands of bands who would follow on the Maxwell's stage: The music wasn't complex, yet it was redolent with mystery. It was repetitious, hypnotic, shrouded and a little shy, tuneful but never exuberantly so, superficially guitar-heavy but fundamentally percussive. You could dance to it; in fact, you often had to dance to it. It was the sound of Hoboken getting reborn and baptized with six-string - the crazy rhythms that started it all."