The Call were never one of those bands that seemed to be able to break out of their next big thing role. The first time I heard them was through “Walls Came Down,” a lyrical barrage of smart songwriting with a band just post-punk enough to be played next to R.E.M. and U2, but ugly enough to prevent them from getting posters on the wall.
Still, Michael Been’s line “I don’t think there are any Russians/And there ain't no Yanks/Just corporate criminals/Playing with tanks” fit in pretty good with the Reagan paranoia time.
Yes, The Call's album Modern Romans was the shit.
The band seemed to follow their label more than their hearts with the follow ups. “Everywhere I Go” was a favorite for me too, but by the time “Let The Day Begin” got a bit of airplay, it sounded like a clichéd working man tribute that would eventually bring Michael Been a fair amount of royalty checks in the future.
And then The Call were gone.
What’s strange is how I learned about it through a tweet from someone who I didn’t expect to give a shit.
What’s even stranger is how and where Been’s death happened. He was the father of Robert Levon Been from Black Rebel Motorcyle Club, and since he didn’t share the last name for the first two BMRC (going under the name Robert Turner, I had no idea about the relation. What’s cool is that Michael was working sound for his son’s band, but when BMRC played a festival last week, Michael’s heart gave out and he passed away unexpectedly.
At least he went doing something he loved doing and at least he was close to his biggest fan.