Van Duren – Chemical Fire —-Power Pop Friday

Van Duren is a power pop musician in Memphis and was managed by Andrew Loog Oldham. He made his first album called Are You Serious in 1978. He is another power pop rocker from the early seventies in Memphis. He was in a band with Big Star’s Chris Bell and drummer Jody Stephens called The Baker Street Regulars. He auditioned as the 2nd guitar player for Big Star just before the band’s demise.

Chemical Fire is an excellent power pop song. It could have very well been played on late seventies radio. It still sounds fresh today.

His style has been compared to Paul McCartney and Todd Rundgren. Personally I hear Marshall Crenshaw also. Big Star wasn’t noticed until over a decade after they recorded their last album. Van Duren waited 30 years before he was properly found.

His second album Idiot Optimism was recorded in 1979 and because of record company problems its wasn’t released until twenty years later. Memphis power artists could not catch a break. There is a documentary about Van Duren that was released in 2019 and his two first albums were re-released also.

According to a documentary, the record label had Scientology connections, which meant they attempted to convert all the acts on their roster. Duren, already in debt, just wanted to finish his record, which he correctly thought was his one shot at stardom. It flopped, and by the mid-80s, after another near-miss with another band, Good Question, his musical career was as good as over.

He is still known in the Memphis area.

Sorry I could not find the lyrics

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “Van Duren – Chemical Fire —-Power Pop Friday”

    1. What it lacks is a catchy chorus…but his voice is really good and I probably picked the wrong song to show…that verse stuck in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, I didn’t say but thank you for listening and giving it a chance! As time goes by I see more people viewing these unknowns and the Replacements posts… which is nice to see. Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I like this… quite a bit, actually… I expect that Jason Faulkner, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., & Co. were fans. Anyhoo, the documentary looks very interesting… I’ll be checking that out. I’ll also having a look for some of his music!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He has a knack for melodies. I told someone else…this song lacks a catchy chorus but I love the groove he lays down…that syncopated guitar.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. I think it works without there being a catchy chorus because of that groove… I’ve had a wee look on Discogs and I think I might order a copy of Are You Serious.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is great. I’ve known about Big Star since the 80s but I had no idea of the Memphis scene at that time… a lot of power pop acts. Most of them grew up with each other. Thanks for listening.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was into Big Star, but I really wasn’t aware that there was a scene. Just never really considered looking further at the music that came out at that time. Glad I’ve learned about this guy.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It is very melodic…the second album is a little more rocking but still melodic. Number 1 Record and Radio City…not comparing them at all but the differences are on the same lines.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…that was strange about the Scientologists!
      Thanks for listening Lisa…I got some good feed back on him today…When I post an unknown that is great to hear.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That seems to be the story of that period. I guess I’m stuck on these artists right now. Some good songs that were not played. A little later The Cars would become huge…maybe their timing was wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

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