Following the dissolution of the Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman ended up recording seven albums for the folk label Rounder Records. The not-so-unusual alliance resulted in a new/old sound for Richman and the results are readily evident on the collection Action Packed: The Best of Jonathan Richman. Unlike the noise and sneer barrage the Lovers were loved for, his solo recordings demonstrate Richman's emotive, stream-of-consciousness spazz rock with a stripped-down honesty. The songs revolve around such mundane things as neighborhoods, Fender Stratocasters, the bus, and cappuccino, almost as if he's sitting on his porch singing songs about whatever pops into his head. This casual feel could be annoying at the local coffeehouse, but Richman's almost child-like wonder at his ordinary subject matter and his straightforward '50s-style rock & roll guitar capture an innocence that seems remarkable coming from someone who could justifiably act a lot more jaded. The songs on Action Packed may seem a little light and off the cuff to listeners only familiar with his proto-punk recordings, but Richman's gentle delight in making music is infectious and endearing, as this collection excellently proves.
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AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson