Monday, February 8, 2010

Rock N Roll Birthday: Sammy Llanas of The Bodeans

Happy Birthday to Sammy Llanas of The Bodeans, who turns 49 today.

I can still recall when the Waukesha, Wisconsin-based roots-rock band blazed onto the scene with their astonishingly solid debut, "Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams,” back in the spring of 1986. I was working in college radio at the time and the record was an instant add to the charts at our station.

Rock n roll trivia: the title of the band’s debut came from the first line of The Rolling Stones song, “Shattered,” from 1978’s “Some Girls” (“love and hope and sex and dreams are still surviving on the streets, look at me, I’m in tatters…”).

Produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett, the debut was an instant success with both critics and fans: The Bodeans were voted Best New American Band in a 1987 Rolling Stone reader poll.

Led by Sammy and guitarist Kurt Neumann, a group with a debut record this good is hard to ignore, and I have continued to follow The Bodeans’ career through the years; their biggest commercial hit and pop culture item was when “Closer To Free” (from 1993’s “Go Slow Down”) was selected as the theme song for the tv series Party Of Five.

While there’s a lot to like in the rootsy feel the band creates, what makes The Bodeans sound so sonically unique is Sammy’s voice; if you think you haven’t heard it, consider that high background voice on the chorus of Robbie Robertson’s “Somewhere Down The Crazy River” – it adds yet another hook to the track and another reason why that song sticks in your head long after you’ve heard it.

The Bodeans are still very much alive and well these days. The band is gearing up for the release of their 9th studio album, “Mr. Sad Clown,” on April 6. You can preview tracks here.

In the meantime, enjoy a live track from “Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams” in honor of Sammy’s birthday today:


Interested in sampling more tunes from the debut album?

BoDeans - Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams - She'S a RunawayShe’s A Runaway

BoDeans - Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams - FadeawayFadeaway