The Call featuring Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Been

Written by Liz Barker
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The CALL featuring Black Rebel Motorcycle Clubs Robert Been

Starting with their self-titled 1982 debut, The Call have gained acclaim from countless critics and had their music hailed as “uncompromising,” “urgent,” “bristling,” and even” apocalyptic.” Those in the know— from Spinto New Musical Express—have extolled The Call for the depth of their material and the passion with which it’s performed. “If there is any justice,” wrote the Philadelphia Daily News in the band’s earliest days,

“The Call will soon be heard and celebrated ‘round the world as the best new rock band of the‘80s.” And while The Call never quite evolved past cult status, their eight highly lauded studio albums more than cemented the band’s place in rock and roll history.

The Call officially began as a band in Santa Cruz, California, in 1979, when vocalist/bassist Michael Been and drummer Scott Musick teamed up with locals Tom Ferrier and Greg Freeman. But their true origins go back to Oklahoma City, where Been’s life was for ever altered by his first sight of Elvis Presley on TV. By age 7, Been was performing weekly on local television and radio, giving a dose of Chuck Berryand Little Richard to the country-western crowd. From that moment on, music would be his only occupation. At 16—soon after discovering Bob Dylan and The Band, a strong influence both musically and lyrically—Been moved to Chicago and found himself drawn into the blues scene by Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson,and Junior Parker. He later moved to California, connected with Musick, and ultimately formed The Call.

Although The Call’s first demos were rejected by every major American label, nearly every major producer was eager to join forces with this passionate new band. In the end their debut LP was produced by Hugh Padgham (best known for his work with David Bowie and The Police), and The Call were quickly playing major venues as an opening act for artists like Peter Gabriel and Simple Minds.

Over the next eight years, The Call would release seven heavily praised albums and earn considerable airplay with iconic hits songs like “Let The Day Begin” and “I Still Believe (Great Design).” After a seven-year break, the band reformed in 1997 to release the well-received Heaven & Back. The Call then disbanded, paving the way for Been to begin serving as sound engineer for his son Robert Levon Been’s band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (as well as co-producing the band’s first five albums). But while working with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the 2010 Pukkelpop festival in Belgium, Been suffered a heart attack and passed away backstage.

Now The Call is gearing up to play live for the first time in ten years, with Robert taking over his father’s role and joining Musick, Ferrier, and keyboardist Jim Goodwin for two shows: one on April 18 at Slim’s in San Francisco, the other on April 19 at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. For Robert—who grew up going out on the road with The Call anytime he had a break from school—the two dates offer the chance to honor his musical legacy and perform nearly a dozen and half songs from the band’s esteemed catalog. And for the original members, the shows allow the opportunity to move forward with the band while preserving the solidarity that Been very much treasured as the founder of The Call.

“That’s something I’ve wanted since I was 16 years old, when I heard The Band for the first time,”Been once said of the band’s uncommon cohesiveness. “When that happens—that chemistry between people—it’s incredibly satisfying…To know that we’ve done this together is what makes it all worthwhile.”

© Words Liz Barker

 

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Read 3019 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:14
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