Morning Music: Jules and the Polar Bears Live

Got No Breading - Jules and the Polar BearsThere was one final Jules and the Polar Bears album, Bad for Business. I have heard it, but it was years ago and I didn’t much like it. It’s a lot like Fenêtîks (Phonetics) — but more so. So I want to feature a live set that the band did, about the time of the first album. And that, I believe, is Peter Gabriel introducing them. This would be during the time when Gabriel was doing his very best work. (I love those first three albums!)

What’s interesting here is that the live version of these songs sound very much like they do on Got No Breading. You just don’t need that much to create great music: start with a great songwriter, add a great band, and leave them alone. (One thing: the vocal harmonies are sometimes on the far side of embarrassing.) Of course, it doesn’t sound like the audience is terribly excited. Hard to tell. But it wouldn’t be the first time that an audience was clueless that they were being treated to something amazing. And admittedly: look at Jules Shear — he’s a crazy man.

And then there are things like the opening of “Driftwood From Disaster” where Shear totally blows it. This was apparently not unusual. From what I’ve heard, Jules and the Polar Bears itself was not that interested in performing live and rarely took it seriously. But this is where I tend to break with most people on music. I’d rather hear something that is real and uneven than something polished and dead. Although we must give the band its due. Other than the harmonies (which are often quite good, but uneven), they are very good. In particular, listen Richard Bredice on lead guitar! Wow. But they are all excellent, including the bass player (David White) who was not listed on the first two albums.

I’m going to leave Jules Shear for now. I’d like to get into his later adult contemporary work, but I’ll do that later. I’ve got something else to do for the next week.

5 thoughts on “Morning Music: Jules and the Polar Bears Live

  1. I just discovered this video a few days ago – it really takes me back as I did see the band live when they were promoting Got No Breeding.

    David White actually did play bass on fenetiks – every track except “The Smell of Home”. The liner notes refer to him as an “unofficial Polar Bear” and he doesn’t appear in the band photos so he was probably hired as a sideman.

    • That’s cool!

      I’ve often wondered about the bass on the albums. It is quite good and none of the four were bass players.

      • Kenny Altman played bass on all of Got No Breeding, plus the one track on fenetiks that White wasn’t on. Gary Richwine played on Bad For Business and, unlike the previous bass players, he appears in the band photos on the album.

        • How do you know so much about this stuff? I guess you were around, but wow. I discovered them long after they were gone. Well, a few years anyway.

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