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INFO about THE CALL

Music critics cite The Call for the depth of their material and the passion with which it's performed:

"This critically acclaimed band counts Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson, and Jim Kerr among it's biggest fans. So what are you waiting for? This is a Call well worth heeding."-
Rolling Stone

The Following is from the Chicago Tribune written by Lou Carloza June 1998
While some might consider The Call's best days behind them, the compelling, urgent set delivered by Michael Been and company at the Subterranean Cafe and Cabaret Thursday night decisively proved otherwise. Playing without a bassist (but with original members Scott Musick on drums and Tom Ferrier on guitar), Been wowed the standing-room-only crowd with a balanced mix of old standbys and thoughtful, new originals - including the hypnotic, steam rolling, "All You Hold On To" a bonus track on the just released "The Best Of The Call".

In strong voice through 17 songs and a generous encore, Been held nothing back, bringing a biting rock brilliance to the group's semi-acoustic lineup. He's also a spiritual, anthemic songwriter who flows easily between the searing and the soaring, and the night's set offered strong evidence that The Call, unsung or not, may well be the closest thing America has ever had to its own U2. No wonder Bono, Peter Gabriel and Bruce Cockburn are Call fans.

If pressed to pick a highlight - the entire night played like the crest of a wave - this reviewer gives a nod to "Everywhere I Go" from 1986's "Reconciled". Ferrier and Been stretched the songs middle with atmospheric solos long on emotion and absent of cliche before hammering home the song's thunderous tag. Likewise, it was impossible to resist "The Walls Came Down" - especially when Been, clearly taken by the crowds enthusiasm, let fly a mighty, celebratory whoop at the end of the song. Rock shows may come bigger, flashier and costlier, but they don't get much more immediate and passionate than this.


"Spiritual adventuring by a California band that dances well clear of high seriousness into a unique groove" says
TIME Magazine of "Into The Woods", rating Into The Woods as one of the top ten rock albums of 1987.

"The Call opened the evening with an urgent , driving set, highlighted by songs from the band's new album, "Into The Woods", and it's previous one, "Reconciled", and proved why this band deserves more attention than it's been receiving."- David Kronke,
Dallas Times Herald

"The Call consciously avoids trendiness and continues making music from the heart. This is a band to watch."- Dave Golladay,
Pittsburgh Leader

"The Call's music is just good well-crafted rock and roll. By the middle of their set, the sold-out Chrysler Hall was crammed with people dancing in, on and around their seats. The Call were great in concert. The crowd loved them, and so did I."- Lia Braganza,
York Town Crier
What are the CALL about?

Since The Call released their self-titled debut LP in January, 1982, the group has made it abundantly clear that this is a band with bigger issues on its collective mind than mere chart success.

"We were never impressed by fashion, or the latest haircut or the newest trend", says Michael Been, The Call's vocalist, bassist and main songwriter. "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 our of nothing".

Many of the lyrics unflinchingly examine the dark side of human nature, while acknowledging the redemptive potential of our capacity for love. Michael Been considers his compositions "basically love songs. I'm talking about the love between us all. I think it gets down to what love demands of us. Unconditional love and acceptance - - where you love not only what is lovable in a person, but you also love their weaknesses as well as their strengths, their failures as much as their success, and their ugliness as well as their beauty - - to me this is true love, God's love. And I'm not even sure it's humanly possible. I'm still working on that one."

How did the CALL start?
The Call was formed in 1980 in Santa Cruz, California, with Michael on guitar, Scott Musick on drums, Tom Ferrier on guitar, and Greg Freeman on bass. Yet the genesis of their music goes back much further.

Michael Been grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "I grew up on rock and roll; Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Stones and Yardbirds. I started playing guitar and as soon as I was old enough, I had a band," says Michael.

He moved to Chicago at age 16, attending high school during the politically charged late 60's. There he saw lots of blues greats such as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Jr. Parker. He listened to Bob Dylan and especially THE BAND, a strong influence musically, lyrically and spiritually.

Michael headed to California in 1972. In Los Angeles, he met drummer Scott Musick, a fellow Oklahoman who also shared an affection for the music of THE BAND. Scott and Michael played in a variety of bands in the Los Angeles area before moving to Santa Cruz in 1976. For the next three years, Michael worked on his songwriting while playing in several different bands with Scott. The band Motion Pictures was formed when Michael and Scott joined forces with two musicians from the Bay Area - guitarist Tom Ferrier and bassist Greg Freeman. "It all fell together so naturally. We played together so effortlessly and trusted each other," Michael says.

Ultimately, Motion Pictures became The Call. By January of 1980, the band was sending around demo tapes to record companies, eventually signing with Mercury/Polygram. Their debut LP The Call was recorded in England with Hugh Padgham producing. The album featured the keyboard talents of THE BAND's Garth Hudson, who had been impressed by the group's lyrics and improvisational abilities, and who remained a friend and occasional sideman, also appearing on the band's next two albums. The debut album won a considerable amount of critical acclaim, as did the following year's Modern Romans, on which the band took over its own production responsibilities. Modern Romans gained mainstream acceptance despite subject matter that radio programmers ten to shy away from. Their single, "The Walls Came Down" and its video, earned an enormous amount of radio and MTV play. This was followed by the band's 1983 tour of the United States and Europe opening for Peter Gabriel.

The Call's 1984 release, Scene Beyond Dreams, demonstrated continued growth for the band and offered evidence of Michael's increasing tendency towards lyrical introspection. It was during this period that Jim Goodwin, originally form Oregon, joined the band on keyboards. Also at this time, Greg Freeman left the group and Michael switched to bass guitar. Greg left to pursue other interests as he was not interested in touring.

In 1985 The Call attempted to get away from Polygram Records and its management company and found themselves embroiled in a legal battle. "The band didn't play for quite a while and it took a lot out of us but I really feel we became a much stronger group because of it," says Michael.

With The Call's first Elektra LP, 1986's Reconciled, featuring radio favorites like "I Still Believe" and "Everywhere I Go", Michael's songwriting carried a more forgiving, less confronting tone than much of the material on the earlier discs. Legendary guitarist Robbie Robertson of THE BAND appeared on this album, as did Jim Kerr and Peter Gabriel. Michael returned the favor by singing on Gabriels' LP So, as well as Simple Minds' album Once Upon A Time. The Call opened for Simple Minds on their Spring 1986 tour of the United States and Canada.

Unlike Reconciled, however, The Call's new Elektra LP Into The Woods, is played and sung entirely by the group. "That was intentional," says Michael. "We wanted it to be just the band this time. We also made an effort to incorporate different styles of playing that we learned over the years. I can hear blues, soul, gospel, folk, country, of course rock and roll, and even classical influence. But it still sounds like The Call."

Into The Woods clearly demonstrated just how far The Call has come in the six years since its vinyl debut. Tracks like "I Don't Wanna", "It Could Have Been Me", "Day or Night" and "In The River" (the latter featuring a rare co-lead vocal by Scott, who co-wrote the song with Michael) mark this The Call's most intense and compelling effort to date.

When asked about the other members of the band, Michael said, "They're extraordinary people. Very unshowbusiness, very bright and extremely talented, and all very different in their approaches. Jim is the youngest, he's full of life, loves life, Scott's very intense, but he's also the funniest guy I've ever known. And Tom, a.k.a. Dickie, is an original - indescribable - there's nobody like him."

The most important thing that has happened in the last few years to The Call, as far as Michael Been is concerned, is that the group has solidified into a cohesive unit of players struggling toward a common end. "Without a doubt, we all absolutely love this band. We know that when the four of us play together, it's better than any one of us and more than the sum of the parts. There's a sense of fulfillment that we have never experienced from playing with anyone else and that's rare. That's what it is. That's why we do it."
The LINER NOTES from the "Best Of The Call" CD:

You can sum up the water mark for rock and roll music in one word: Passion. In the beginning it was there in Elvis' growl and Little Richard's trademark wail; it's what made Chuck Berry's anthems to after-school hedonism so dangerous. It could be sussed in the visionary lyrics of Bob Dylan and John Lennon, the souled-out voice of Van Morrison, the rebellion of the Stones and in the gut-bucket roots of the Band exploring America's history and terrain. Passion also wrote its name in the rage of the Sex Pistols, the ad hoc politics of the Clash and the beautiful, barely contained sorrow of Joy Division. And in the midst of the tumult we could hear passion sing a new song in the heart-on-a-sleeve proclamations of U2, Peter Gabriel's quest for new musical languages and in the searing, pulse of the Call's urgent melodicism, a passion that sought truth at any price while employing rock and roll as its gorgeously tattered vehicle.

And while it's true that the Call may well be the least recognizable name on that list, they did more than anybody else to embrace all of rock and roll's lineage in their sonic mission. Over 10 years and seven albums, the Call forged a virtual poetic that sought to include not only everything fine and rare in the music's pantheon, but each of humanity's qualities and flaws as well.

From the release of their self-titled debut in 1982, the Call, hailing from California's Bay area, established themselves as a breed apart. Led by Michael Been's songwriting and voice, they burst on the scene like they knew everything was up for grabs--because it was. They understood that punk's promise was a jaded one and that nihilism, excess and corporate greed were swallowing popular music wholesale. They didn't wade into the water, they charged. And with only one personnel change in their history, Been, Scott Musick, Tom Ferrier and Jim Goodwin kept on charging all the way through to the band's disbanding in 1990, where the mantle was picked up again by Been in 1995's " On The Verge On A Nervous Breakthrough".

This collective gift, this melding of mood, emotion and technical skill, won the Call many critical accolades and the praise of their peers who often guested on their recordings. Musicians such as Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson from the Band, Gabriel, T-Bone Burnett, U2's Bono and Simple Mind's Jim Kerr, all participated in recording sessions at one time or another. In fact, the Call were celebrated by their peers, which is an achievement not so easily come by in this hypercritical age. What you hold in your hands is an historical document of a great rock and roll band to be sure, but it is also a social, spiritual and aesthetic one. What is contained in these 1 4 songs is a chronicle of passion's many faces as exemplified in the vision of a particular group of people at a certain place in time who remained true to their collective muse in the face of doubt, success, turmoil and pleasure.

In Been's clear and jarring baritone voice, we hear the emotional landscape of the human heart as it shapeshifts its way across different territories where love was so intense it threatened to consume itself to gardens of stark confusion to the seemingly endless desert of doubt. With a band that could swirl itself into a fury or whisper like a southwind, Been walked the tightrope as the group's frontman; he descended into he shadows willingly because he believed resolutely in the hope that there was indeed light and grace on the other side. The Call's sonic echo and rhythm were compelled by human bloodlines reaching out from their longing for something more.

While it is easy to hear the earth shake in the band's anthems such as "The Walls Came Down" and " Let The Day Begin", it is in the more subtle material that listener finds the depth and dimension that defined the band's spirit, and in particular Been's muse. From the intricate guitar lines woven into the resolution of "I Still Believe" to the faltering yet hopeful questions of "What Happened To You?" driven by keyboards and stuttering guitars to the haunted, textured elegance on "To Feel This Way," the many faces of Been and the Call reveal themselves to listeners, bringing them into a soundworld where images and colors are alive, and the answers to questions are never easy.

In this writer's memory, never has a band so courageously put its vulnerabilities so close to the foreground in its music. In the Call's brand of rock and roll, there wasn't room for screening personality from presentation, it was simply all loaded into the mix with shadings, angles and frays all given equal room to express themselves. Whether a pounding beat, a futuristic funk a soaring melody or a restrained chorus, all one had to do was listen to be able to grasp, even for a moment, a glimpse of everything.

True, the Call, despite a few hit singles never became megastars. But it didn't matter, they were a band that sought the role of working musicians and playing with each other as more important than mass acceptance. They were always aware that the music they were playing wasn't for everybody, but it only furthered their reason to create it. And as consummate musicians who sought balance, they knew when it was time for restlessness to have its due when they disbanded in 1990; they called it a day after painting their masterpiece with " Red Moon."

But the story doesn't end there, or with Been's celebrated solo album. At this juncture, this collection stands only as a summation to part one of the Call's story. Been and company are planning a reunion to explore what they left unfinished. What we have here, then, in this stellar and provocative collection, is a testament to be sure. But it is also a door; one that opens out onto a new day, where rock and roll's prime element--passion--can be adorned and displayed by men who understand the divine secrets embedded in its name. One which takes us, indeed, to heaven and back. --Thom Jurek
The All Music Guide had this to say: Despite great critical acclaim due to their literate, passionate rock; praise from some well-respected contemporaries; and a string of strong releases, the San Francisco band the Call never quite escaped cult status. The predicted breakthrough to a wider audience never quite materialized. Formed in the San Francisco area in 1980, the quartet, led by vocalist/guitarist Michael Been, released their self-titled debut in 1982 and earned positive reviews. The following year, the band issued Modern Romans and managed to broaden their fan base when "The Walls Came Down" became a minor hit single. In 1984, keyboardist Jim Goodwin replaced bass player Scott Freeman to round out the lineup for the release of Scene Beyond Dreams, which despite receiving more critical acclaim, failed to build on their commercial momentum. Reconciled followed in 1985 and featured guest appearances by Peter Gabriel (who had once referred to the band as "the future of American music") and Robbie Robertson. Both "I Still Believe" and "Everywhere I Go" achieved significant airplay on college rock and AOR stations, giving a boost to the band's profile.
The Call scaled back a bit from the anthemic feel of Reconciled for Into the Woods, but managed to score again at college rock outlets with the somber "In the River." Been took time out from the band in 1988 to appear as the apostle John in Martin Scorcese's Last Temptation of Christ. The band switched labels from Elektra to MCA in 1989, edging back into more radio-friendly territory with Let the Day Begin. The rousing title track became their biggest hit to date; topping the AOR charts and reaching number 51 on the pop charts, propelling the album to become their highest-charting release as well. Despite the success, when they returned with Red Moon, the Call had scaled back their sound, embracing an organic, more roots-oriented sound that recalled the Band (not surprising, as that act's Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson had both guested on earlier albums).
Perhaps their most mature and fully-realized album, Red Moon made little impact beyond the Call's core audience (despite Bono lending vocals to "What's Happened to You?"). Been tested the waters as a solo artist and released the harder-edged
On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough in 1994, managing to gain a bit of airplay with "Us." The Call was given the compilation treatment on a couple releases in the '90s, and reunited for Heaven & Back in 1997 and a tour. They subsequently issued a live record, Live Under the Red Moon, three years later.
Michael Been's new offering (circa 1995) by Brent Short

Michael Been's music is personal...intensely personal with an exploratory edge. It's intelligent without being pretentious or coldly cerebral; emotional, but artistic with spiritual overtones. His former band The Call created music that was driving and rhythmically oriented; subject-wise, their songs were full of gripping and gritty images of conflict, compelling portraits of cataclysm and deliverance, making their music genuinely provocative.

Now, unfortunately for the group of discriminating fans that held The Call's music in high regard, the band as a band no longer exists. With eight albums to their credit-such as their unacknowledged masterpiece Modern Romans (a hard-hitting raw musical essay of singular power concerning the spirit-numbing violence of contemporary culture), Reconciled (an album chock-full of potential radio songs left inexplicably unreleased as singles by their record company), the hauntingly introspective Into the Woods, and the sparkling Let the Day Begin showcasing a variety of musical moods-The Call as a band will be sorely missed.

Fortunately for The Call's fans, lead singer and songwriter Michael Been is continuing his music career as a solo artist. Two members from his former band-drummer Scott Musick and guitarist Tom Ferrier- are continuing their musical association. Both are featured on Been's new solo release On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthroughand played on the accompanying tour.

With the addition of guitarist Ralph Patlan, On the Verge takes on a predominantly heavy guitar sound. Except for the undifferentiated grunge of "In My Head" (which doesn't really seem to put the song across in an interesting way musically), the new guitar lineup seems to pay off with a lot of new vitality.

The opener chugger "Us" sets the mood for a series of hammering rockers with its keening guitar volley and tense rhythmic guitar intercutting. The musicians really let loose with an all-out barrage on "When You're With Me." Its exuberance is matched by the roiling guitars and telling and moving vulnerability of "Nearly Fell": "Deep are the wounds that shaped me/I was vain/Struck by the hand that shaped me."

The catchy boogie behind "This World" is a rumbling mix of resonant spasmodic bass runs and high-pitched nervous guitar feedback. It's definitely the most distinctive hard rocking cut, with great lyrics to boot: "I look high through the trees/To the depths of the seas/Will I find me a place in this world?" Just to add a little vintage variety, On the Verge includes a kicking cover version of the Yardbirds' "For Your Love."

AFTER THE RELEASE of The Call's last album in 1990, Been wrote and performed the soundtrack to filmmaker Paul Schrader's Light Sleeper (1992). His music wells up throughout the film, the backbone to a night tableau of florid city images that serve as the backdrop to the story of another one of Schrader's troubled cinematic pilgrims. The soundtrack, only available as an EP in Britain, is full of fiery mid- tempo songs.

The new solo effort features a significant mix of the same type of slowed-down ru-minations in mid-tempo that are-with few exceptions- very effective. One of the songs, "To Feel This Way" (in two different versions), was actually slated for the Light Sleeper soundtrack, but found its way onto On the Verge . Been's husky vocal theatricality comes off with almost stunning effect on a couple of slower moody atmospheric gems-"This Way" and "Lumi-nous"-when he sings about the specter of a past relationship rearing its head, and the sense of losing and finding himself in the clarity of a transcendent light.

With his voice filtered and some electronic flourishes, "Now I Know High (Part 2)" is another hypnotic mid-tempo song that is extended out almost eight minutes with some spacey dreamtime guitar play. The languid theme of falling asleep and dreaming in the arms of grace is some of his best new work.

With the anthemic rockers of The Call behind him, Been needs to get a little more daring than he does on On the Vergeso that he can continue to create powerful music which is more unpredictable and stylistically varied. Some nice surprises are to be found in this particular mix of hard rockers and slower songs, but not enough of them to create a fresh feel in terms of its musicality.

Bringing a distinctive counterpoint to his more hard-driving songs, while continuing to expand his repertoire of dramatic mid-tempo songs, Michael Been's edgy intelligent musical introspection shows stylistic spark. With a string of flat record deals for The Call and a series of record management changes, Been's current recording label Qwest (headed by Quincy Jones) hopes that Been's solo career will provide the fresh start he deserves.

The Call to a Solo Career. by Brent Short. Sojourners Magazine, March- April 1995 (Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 60-61). Reviews.

This can be found originally here
The Last Temptation of Christ
Based on the novel Nikos Kazantzakis. Director: Martin Scorsese. Screenplay: Martin Scorsese and Jay Cocks. Producer: Barbara De Fina. Director of Photography: Michael Ballhaus. Music: Peter Gabriel. A Universal Pictures Release.

Cast: Willem Dafoe (Jesus), Barbara Hershey (Mary Magdeline), Harry Dean Stanton (Saul/Paul), Harvey Keitel (Judas Iscariot), Victor Argo (Peter), Michael Been (John), John Lurie (James), Andre Gregory (John the Baptist), Verna Bloom (Mary, Mother of Jesus), David Bowie (Pontius Pilate), Juliette Caton (Angel).

The Story: Michael gives the following synopsis of The Last Temptation of Christ. "The movie is a fictional account of the life of Jesus, not the biblical story - - although, they certainly interweave. I think the purpose of the movie is to show Christ's struggle with his humanness - - feeling all the joy and pain, and struggling with the same confusion and temptation we all go through. The movie never denies Jesus' divinity, but it focuses on His human side."

The Actors: Willem Dafoe played the heavy in several films before starring in Platoon. Barbara Hershy, one of the movie industry's most respected actresses, has been in many movies; most recently Hannah and Her Sisters, Tin Men, Shy People, and Beaches. Harry Dean Stanton's credits include Paris Texas, Pretty in Pink, Repo Man, and Slam Dance.

Filming of the movie took three months. It began in October of 1987 in Morocco and was completed in late December. It's was released to theaters in September, 1988.

Martin Scorsese is best known as the great director of big city street life. His films have long been a vanguard for excellent drama. From Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull to The Color of Money and After Hours the saga continued with the symbolic plot of one man giving up his life for another man. Scorsese call The Last Temptation of Christ "a deeply religious film ? an affirmation of my faith."

Michael Been is one of Scorsese's biggest fans. "I have been a fan of his for years," Michael said of Scorsese. "He was like my favorite director from when I saw Mean Streets."

Likewise a longtime Call fan, Scorsese invited Michael to screentest and ultimately offered him the role of the disciple John in the Biblical epic, The Last Temptation of Christ. Michael said of their first meeting, "I met him a few years back when he came to hear us play in New York. I found out he followed the group, knew the songs, and liked the music. He felt there was a similarity in what the band was singing about and the purpose of his movies."

Michael described his time in Morocco as an "amazingly intense, loving experience." He attributes the overall success of the casting and filming to Martin Scorsese's technique as a director. "He's an extremely intense filmmaker. He elicits such convincing performances from his actors simply by choosing people who would naturally fit the role. He's not an acting coach, but rather he sets the mood and level of drama. The ultimate sin to him is overacting - - he likes real drama but not overdone. He's very concerned that movement and facial expression not be exaggerated, since he expects the content of the dialogue to put the scene across."

"And Willem Dafoe I cannot say enough about. He's a brilliant and intuitive actor. All the actors and crew were extraordinary people - - very serious about their work, but at the same time very humorous and real. I made some close friendships during the filming. All the actors were very musical. If we weren't acting we were together making music. Harry Dean Stanton and I became great friends and wrote a song together called "Watch", which is on the new album. All these gifted people confined together for three months - - a very creative atmosphere, so much passion and expression. It was one of the greatest times of my life."

When asked about his role in the movie as an acting experience, Michael replied, "My role is a good first-time supporting part, not too small, not too big." Would he like to do another film? "Let's wait and see how this one turns out. But I did enjoy doing it."
When Peter Gabriel, Bono, Martin Scorsese , Jim Kerr (Simple Minds), Harry Dean Stanton, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson (The Band) all get together for that Friday night poker game, what do you think they listen to? Chances are, it would be something by The Call. Formed in Santa Cruz, CA in 1979, The Call came together after two Oklahoma natives (lead singer Michael Been and drummer Scott Musick) joined forces with two Bay-area musicians (guitarist Tom Ferrier and bassist Greg Freeman). Originally calling themselves Motion Pictures, the foursome played shows around the Bay Area and shopped a demo to various record labels. Ultimately they signed with Mercury Records, a division of Polydor. Hugh Padham, a veteran producer who worked with XTC, The Police and Peter Gabriel, was brought in to produce the bands debut, which was recorded in England. Released in 1982, the self titled debut immediately established The Call as a band that had something to say.


The social conscience of the band was clearly evident in their next studio release, 1983’s “Modern Romans”. This time self-produced, the album was much more of a rock-n-roll record than their debut and the political themes were turned up a notch. It was clear with this record that The Call had found their direction, both musically and lyrically, and it produced their first hit “The Walls Came Down”. Listen to “The Walls Came Down” today and the song could have just as easily been written in 2003 as 1983. Likewise with the song “Turn A Blind Eye”, the hostility Been and the group felt about the social and political world they saw around them was evident:

To the desperate young, turn a blind eye
To the old and lonely, turn a blind eye
To our inhumanity
To our death dealing vanity
To the methods of persuasion, turn a blind eye
To the masters of evasion, turn
To the science of control, turn a blind eye
To a world in chains, turn
To the sellers of illusion, turn a blind eye
To masters of confusion, turn a blind eye
To a hollow culture
To the circling vulture
To lovers of power, turn a blind eye
To the resurrection
To a world in chains, turn
I don't want to get involved
It's not my problem
I'll just ignore it
I don't want to feel this
To the starving children, turn a blind eye
To your own redemption, turn
To the horror of extinction
To a world in chains, turn

“Modern Romans” put the band on the map and they toured behind it for all of 1983 both as a headliner and supporting Peter Gabriel’s “Shock The Monkey” tour.

The relentless touring took its toll on bass player Freeman and, before the group entered the studio in 1984 to record a follow-up, he departed the band. Playing now as a trio proved to be a difficult transition for the remaining members. The result, “Scene Beyond Dreams”, would years later be recalled by Been as his least favorite of the bands early recordings.

The band would waste all of 1985 in a battle to get out of their deal with Polydor, a battle they would ultimately win and by 1986 entered the studio to record their first Electra album “Reconciled”. Also at this time Been would move to bass and keyboard player Jim Goodwin would be added. The year or so the group spent away from playing and recording was evident on “Reconciled”. Gabriel, Jim Kerr and Robbie Robertson would all play or sing on the album. Gone, however, was long time contributor keyboardist Garth Hudson and the effect was a harder, more guitar driven sound. Been’s lyrics would also take a much less confrontational and political direction. Despite having released three full length albums and with the core members of the band playing together for over 6 years to this point, “Reconciled” feels like their debut. The songs have freshness and a sound that had not previously been captured to this point in their career.

Been’s inwardly focused lyrics and the ever evolving sound of the band continued on 1987’s “Into The Woods”. If “Reconciled” felt like a debut, “Into The Woods” was far from a sophomore jinx. The sound of the band became even tighter and if anything Been’s singing and lyrics stand out even more than on any previous record. Been would later call “Into The Woods” his favorite Call recording.

The band stayed away from the studio in 1988. Been, at the suggestion of director and Call fan Martin Scorsese, participated in a screen test for Scorsese’s latest film “The Last Temptation of Christ”, where he was chosen for the role of the Apostle John. Several members of the band, Been included, also spent the summer supporting actor Harry Dean Stanton, who played harmonica and sang cover tunes, on a tour of clubs throughout the US. I actually saw one of Stanton’s shows that summer and like many Call fans am sorry to report that it was too much Stanton and too little Call.


In 1989 The Call returned to the studio to record “Let The Day Begin”. While I like the record and the title song would become the biggest hit of their career, the sound of the band had definitely evolved. It all felt a little safer to me, written and played more with radio in mind. The band was getting older and you could sense their recognition of that fact with “Let The Day Begin”. Likewise with 1990’s “Red Moon”, these were no longer angry young men, but guys with kids and mortgages. Even with acknowledged fan Bono contributing vocals on several tracks, the album sold poorly. While I didn’t much care for “Red Moon” at the time, now that I have a mortgage and two kids of my own, today I appreciate it’s more rootsier sound and introspective lyrics.

Shortly after the release of “Red Moon” and a short tour to support it, The Call took an indefinite hiatus.


In 1992 Michael Been would score and perform the soundtrack for director Paul Schrader’s movie “Light Sleeper”. An off-beat tale of a drug dealer trying to break-free, Been’s music provided the perfect backdrop for the movie. Unfortunately the CD was only released in Europe and is impossible to find.

In 1994 Been released a solo effort entitled “On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakthrough” and the band would reform in 1997, releasing “To Heaven And Back”. Surprisingly, both discs pick up not where "Red Moon" left off but would seem to fit better in the earlier "Reconciled" era. Aside from some slicker production, not much separate these two discs from some of The Call's finest earlier work and are musts for any Call fan.

Michael Been can be found these days touring as a sound engineer in support of his son, Robert Levon Been and his band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
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