They sold out arenas thanks to era-defining ditties like “Freeway,” “Walkin’ Shoes” and “Mama You’re a Dancer.” The grainy, faded footage of them in concert in L.A. circa 1974 testifies that no one worked a country-tinged, AM-radio groove better. Cameron Crowe, Daryl Hall and the ladies of Haim are all diehard fans. “Every song was a single, and every single was great,” claims Chuck Klosterman, in reference to the chart-topping album Catalina Breeze. “I was completely blown away by that record,” says Kenny Loggins. “We all tried to capture that thing, but they really got it. That was the quintessential California record.” They were called the Blue Jeans Committee, the kings of the early Seventies soft-rock scene and the most influential band of their day. And, also, they are not real.
If you’ve been watching Documentary Now!, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader’s brilliant TV show on IFC that sends up nonfiction filmmaking, you’ve seen the duo affectionately skewer everything from Vice’s gonzo-hipster journalism to the Maysles brothers’ classic Grey Gardens. But with “Gentle & Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee,” a two-part episode that takes on both music docs and the Me Decade’s peaceful, easy feelings, they’ve come up with a fake band assembled, Frankenstein-style, from the spare parts of Steely Dan, America and the Eagles — a loving parody that looks and sounds so authentic that you’d swear you grew up hearing these songs on long road trips and in dentists’ waiting rooms.
Armisen and musician Jon Spurney quickly came up with 10 songs that mimic the tinkling keyboard parts, feather-light drums and the Malibu-meets-Memphis country twang of the era’s soft-rock hits. (Should you feel the urge to spin such BJC classics as “Mr. Fix-It” or “Hibiscus” on your hi-fi, you can purchase the Blue Jean Committee’s actual fake-band album in its entirety, courtesy of Drag City.
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