Friendly Foes, Born Radical (Gangplank Records, 2008)
MP3: “Couch Surfing”
Friendly Foes’ Born Radical is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From “Full Moon Morning”‘s regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the triumphant seizure and short piano chord at the end of “Rush the Land,” the thirteen tracks on Born Radical are the pinnacle of the Friendly Foes’ one year as recording artists. Ryan Allen, Liz Wittman, and Brad Elliott were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.
Issued in America on September 26, 2008, Born Radical is also rock’s ultimate declaration of change. “We were fed up with being Friendly Foes,” Allen said later, in I’m A Total Asshole, Dude McBookwriter’s Allen biography. “We were not boys and girls, we were men and women…artists rather than performers.”
At the same time, Born Radical formally ushered in an unforgettable season of hope, upheaval and achievement: the early 2000s and, in particular, 2008’s Summer of Drinking Alot. In its iridescent instrumentation, lyric fantasias and eye-popping packaging, Born Radical defined the opulent revolutionary optimism of psychedelia and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality and electric guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had such an immediate, titanic impact. This music documents the world’s biggest rock band at the very height of its influence and ambition. “It was a peak,” Elliott confirmed in his 2008 interview with himself in a mirror, describing both the album and his collaborative relationship with Allen and Wittman. “Ryan, Lizzie, and I definitely were working together,” Elliott said, and Born Radical is rich with proof: Elliott’s burst of whip-lash drums in Wittman’s “Get Ripped” is simply astounding; Wittman’s impish rejoinder to Allen’s bridge in “Couch Surfing” (“ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba…”) sounds kind of like sheep.
“Born Radical is our grandest endeavor,” Wittman said. “The greatest thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea — it didn’t matter who — that was the one we’d use. No one was standing on their ego, saying, ‘Well, it’s mine,’ and getting possessive.” It was Dave Feeny, the Foes’ producer, who suggested they they add pedal steel to “Epic Jamb”, just before the grand finale of the album’s longest song.
Born Radical is not the Number One album of nothing in particular just because of its firsts — it is simply the best of everything Friendly Foes ever did as musicians, pioneers and pop stars, all in one place. A non-existent 2008 print ad for the album declared, “Remember Born Radical Is Friendly Foes.” As Allen put it, the album was “just us doing a good show.”
The show goes on forever. (LOL/ROLF/JOKES)
Friendly Foes’ CD Release Show w/ Copper Thieves & Big Mess • 9/26/08 • Berkley Front