The Feelies | They’ve Been Around for Ages

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

The Feelies, originally called The Outkids, formed in 1976. Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman and vocalist Richard Reilly started playing together under The Outkids which eventually led to the name The Feelies, taken from a fictional entertainment device described in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The band subsequently recruited Vinny DeNunzio on drums and John Papesca on bass. In 1978, the Village Voice dubbed the then-unsigned Feelies "The Best Underground Band in New York".

The band released their first single Fa Cé-La on Rough Trade Records in 1979. Their debut album, Crazy Rhythms, was released on Stiff Records in 1980, featuring the same line-up as on the Fa Cé-La Rough Trade single. The album was met with high praise and was ranked number 49 in Rolling Stone's 100 best albums of the 1980s. Shortly after the release, a few of the members split which led to The Feelies creating offshoot bands including The Trypes, Yung Wu, and The Willies whilst still performing as The Feelies.

The Feelies recorded The Good Earth in 1985 with Peter Buck of R.E.M. on board as co-producer with Mercer and Million. The band toured in support of the album as an opening band for Lou Reed as well as R.E.M. that year. In 1988 the band released Only Life on A&M Records; the album was met with praise coming in at No. 27 on the Village Voice's 1988 Pazz & Jop critics' poll. The Feelies final album before their break up was Time for a Witness, which was released on A&M in 1991. The album failed to make its mark compared to Only Life, and shortly after the band broke up.

17 years later the group started doing reunion shows, they supported Sonic Youth at Battery Park in NYC. Since their reunion, the band has released two albums; Here Before was released in March 2011 and their sixth album In Between was released in February 2017. Despite a long hiatus as a group, the band continues to play to this day. Their last gig was at Wilco's every-other-year festival Solid Sound in North Adams, MA in June 2019.

There you have it, The Feelies are the perfect script to any movie in today's culture; the early years and successful career, the break-up, before finishing off with a happy ending by reforming as a band 17 years later. Where to start? Start with their debut album Crazy Rhythms followed by The Good Earth, both hold their weight musically and highlight their successful career.