Peter Ivers, "Miraculous Weekend" (RVNG Intl.)
Becoming Peter Ivers is another sterling example of what the RVNG Intl. label does best: unearthing under-heard recordings by overlooked artists and putting their career into a historical context, making you care a lot about musicians whom you'd somehow ignored for most of your cursed life. A 25-song retrospective derived from a bounty of previously unheard demos, studio sessions, and rehearsal recordings written and recorded in Los Angeles in the mid to late '70s, Becoming Peter Ivers offers an alluring portrait of the musician/composer best known as the auteur of "In Heaven," which David Lynch used to ultra-creepy effect for the "lady in the radiator" scene in his 1979 cult classic film Eraserhead. (The album contains an earlier, more uptempo version with a more camp vocal style.)
Camp is just one trait marking Ivers's music on this comp: His songwriting's also baroque, melodically bold, and accessible without seeming to try hard. While I may not like these songs as much as I do the ones on the singular 1969 LP he recorded with Yolande Bavan, Knight of the Blue Communion, I respect the off-kilter pop aesthetic Ivers leveraged here. That being said, deceptively funky tracks such as “I’m Sorry Alice” “Audience of One,” and “Alpha Centauri” approach the strange sublimity of Blue Communion. If you dig Sparks, 10cc/Godley & Creme, Van Dyke Parks, or Jobriath, you'll probably want to explore Ivers's catalog. (Note: Ivers was murdered in 1983 in a case that remains unsolved by the LAPD to this day.)
"Miraculous Weekend" is one of those brash, catchy songs that make you wonder how it wasn't a hit in its day. Ivers recorded two albums for Warner Bros. in the mid '70s, but he never broke out of obscurity. Oddly, its harmonica and piano recall War, of all people, but the bawdy shuffle and fey, debauched falsetto are pure Ivers. This is a distinctive species of blue-eyed yacht funk that should soundtrack its titular scenario. For some reason, I can imagine Marc Bolan and Gloria Jones partying hard to it.