But this network is falling apart already. More and more clubs, says Burma manager (and former Underground and Streets booking agent) Jim Coffman, are hiring dance DJs rather than bands. One-time and sometime progressive commercial radio stations have steered back to the middle of the road and bogged down. (WBCN has virtually ignored VS. after giving heavy play to the debut single and EP.) These problems make the Burma breakup – at least as a live act – sting even harder. They are one of the few groups that have the will and out-of-town clout to get booked in the new-wave discos and thereby keep a sizeable portion of the rock-and-roll underground united. Of course, in Boston (as well as in New York, where the band is popular enough to command a minimum $1000-a-show every two months) Burma are more than an underground group. No club-level outfit in town has crossed so many boundaries and made so many records. From Spit and the Channel to Jonathan Swift’s and Jasper’s, they attract skinheads, beards, and ponytails, artists and jocks, gays and straights, whites and more whites (the racial barrier is always a tough one). Even a couple years ago, when their music was too gray and fuzzy, Burma shows felt like a breakthrough.
Their future is up in the air. Bass player Clint Conley is thinking about quitting the clubs and finding a job (let’s hope that thought perishes). Prescott wants to go with Conley and Swope. (My fantasy is that ex-Maps, ex-Artyard eccentric Robert Valentine will give them a call – a teaming up that would be worthy of carrying on the band’s name. And why not? Think how long it took for their oblique moniker to sink in. Think how long it would take to build a new reputation, especially in these tough times.) As for Miller, he’s all set with the relatively subdued Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, a sideline project he started two years ago with Erik Lindgren. Ace of Hearts has scheduled a March release for a six-song Mesozoic EP, which will be softer and quieter than Burma. The same can be said for Boston’s club scene come February.
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