There are plentiful reasons to long for the rock star life. For most, I suspect the main enticement are those that might show up in the most debauched sections of a memoir penned by one of the members of Kiss. I suppose there may have been a time when I would have eagerly agreed with that, but now that I’m older, I understand that hope is better directed at different glories. For example, if you have the ability and entitlement to demand anything, there are few better uses of that power than enlisting Mort Drucker to draw your album cover.
The longtime Mad magazine artist provided the cover artwork for the self-titled debut album by the Bears, released in 1987. Undoubtedly most notable for the presence of revered guitar wizard Adrian Belew, the band release a pair of records in the late nineteen-eighties, but were never more than a blip, even on college radio. And I’ll admit it was the distinctive Drucker art on the cover that drew me to it in the first place. As I was making my way is the swirling waters of college rock during my earliest days at the station, I locked an iron grip around anything that was remotely familiar, even if was only because of cover art that spoke to my wide-ranging comic geek knowledge. This is why I would also occasionally play tracks from Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien, with its cover image of the Silver Surfer, nicked from a comic drawn by John Byrne.
As opposed to Satriana’s album, I found a lot to like on The Bears. Even once I had a little more time and commensurate music knowledge under my skinny, plastic belt (this story did start in the nineteen-eighties, remember), I zipped back to the release often. There was something snappy and joyous about every last track on the album, even when they were singing lines like, “Mama’s little baby like fear and torture/ Mama’s little darling likes violent sex.” And then there was Belew’s guitar work, which made the most blissfully rubbery sounds that have ever landed on a rock ‘n’ roll song.
And I never stopped feeling a little jealous about those Drucker caricatures.
Listen or download –> The Bears, “Fear is Never Boring”
(Disclaimer: I haven’t really checked, but I’m betting The Bears is out of print as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of the shop in question and the original artist. I share this hear with the best of intentions, having no desire whatsoever to deprive others of reasonable commerce. If it can be bought, go do it now. It’s great. Though I feel it should be completely fine and legal to share a single track from a thirty year old album, I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)