The music of the 1980s is iconic and people love it, even if they were too young to remember it in its prime. Why not? It was a time of emergence. Music videos were a new concept and MTV was still youthfully all about the music. All new subgenres of electronic and rock music were forming- thrash metal, glam rock, soft rock in the rock/metal category and electro, house and techno were new to the electronic music world. This was the golden age of Queen, Metallica, U2 and Joe Satriani. Go ahead, let the nostalgia pour in. What band had several albums out at that time, was adored by Bono and Peter Gabriel, yet never became a household name? The Call.
Michael Been was an extraordinary songwriter for The Call. He was pegged as dark and brooding with his lyrics, but strived for optimism. He had idealist views that the world could heal itself, if its people could learn compassion and love. He sang with passion and could also play the guitar, the bass, and the piano. He was an activist and many interpreted his songs to have social, political, and religious themes, but he always maintained that his phrases were meant to be expressed on a more individual level. For example, you might think he's talking about war, but he's more likely to be discussing the battles within oneself, battling one's inner demons. "Rock'n'roll is a vehicle to express the emotions you are not allowed to use in everyday life. We shouldn't waste rock and roll. Rock should be looking at some of the big questions. At its best, it's an art form that inspires, sometimes teaches, sometimes threatens. Its only crime is when it bores."
Michael Been and The Call had the talent to be recognized for their contribution to music, but they would not compromise their integrity and record executives would shun his rugged looks and serious material. After all, this was a time when Cyndi Lauper was singing about how “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
The frontman Michael Been said:
We were never impressed by fashion, or the latest haircut or the newest trend. With us, it was always the music. The music is everything. The cult of personality and celebrity that surrounds rock and roll and the modern pop culture in general, never really interested us. I would say that if it got to a point where music was just a function of making money, and we had to play a song we didn't believe in, or present ourselves in a way that wasn't true to us, I don't think we'd do it anymore. I'd get into another line of work because that's not why I play music. Don't get me wrong, we would love to be able to do a song that everyone loved and have it be a big hit. We'd rather have a hit record than not have one, but I don't think it's in our nature to fake it or try and create something out of nothing".
If you want to get acquainted with The Call's old material, check out Let the Day Begin, Everywhere I Go, and I Still Believe. You can visit The Call website and see pictures of the original band and even familiarize yourself with their breadth of work with samples here.
Unfortunately, Michael Been passed away a few years ago. His son and the remaining band members released “The Call live Tribute With Robert Levon Been” today, Sept. 2, 2014. You can purchase this new tribute album and older materials here. You can really appreciate Michael Been's genius if you read the lyrics to his best songs. Robert Levon Been honors his father's memory by executing his vocals with skill and feeling and even taking his place as bass player, to boot.. The trailer for the DVD+CD deluxe set can be viewed here. It is also available in regular CD, vinyl and digital download.
Robert is easy on the eyes for any female fans and is a member of his own band, the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. You can learn more about that here.