I've known about Van Duren for years, maybe since the late 80's, but that is still ten years after "Are You Serious" was released. His name would pop up occasionally when discussing power pop, and at some point, I think I carried an import CD at my shop. But I have no recollection of ever hearing the record and up until a few weeks ago, I couldn't tell you what it sounded like.
I found a sealed vinyl copy in one of my boxes at storage and while it was tempting to slap a $50 tag on it and put it on display at my next record show, temptation got the best of me and I ripped it open. I have no regrets.
Maybe you've been listening to Van Duren since it came out in 1977. Or maybe, like me, you had never heard a note. Either way, this record, along with the new Todd Rundgren record, has occupied most of my time for the last week or so. "Are You Serious" is no novelty, like so many power pop records tend to be. Van Duren comes from that small group of Memphis power pop musicians that gave us The Scruffs and of course, Big Star. (Jody Stephens co-wrote one track here.) And though each song will make you think of Big Star or Emitt Rhodes or Eric Carmen or Paul McCartney or Badfinger, this is one wholly original piece of work. This record is killing me.