Camper Van Beethoven is a Santa Cruz-based indie punk band founded in 1983, disbanded in 1990, and reformed in 2002. The band consisted of David Lowery, Victor Krummenacher (bass), Greg Lisher (guitar) and Jonathan Segel (violin/keyboard/mandolin). Self-described as "surrealist absurdist folk," the band ushered in the new wave of alternative music. They were signed on I.R.S. Records and Virgin Records.
The 1985 re-release of their debut, Telephone Free Landslide Victory, made the Top Ten in the 1986 Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll, as did their next albums, II & III and Camper Van Beethoven, both released in 1986.
The band mixed elements of pop, ska, punk rock, folk, country, and acid rock into an eclectic, catchy formula years before the alternative rock movement took shape. The group's trademark violin-coated melodies and ironic, Zappa-influenced lyrics put them one step away from being a novelty act in the eyes of many critics, but the band had gone from silly to experimental with the intricate, psychedelic pop meanderings of their self-titled third album. After signing to Virgin in 1988 and releasing two eclectic yet slightly more accessible LPs, they disbanded in 1990; David went on to start the band Cracker.
In 2000, ex-members regrouped to compile the experimental rarity set Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead. Long Live Camper Van Beethoven. In 2002, they released Tusk. Allegedly recorded in 1987, it had all the same tracks as the Fleetwood Mac album of the same name, and a parody of the original album's cover art. A series of reunion tour dates followed with many of the band's former members. The group officially reformed in 2004 to record New Roman Times, their first official studio album in 15 years. A live concert disc was also released entitled In The Mouth of the Crocodile, capturing a 2004 reunion performance in Seattle. Also, segments of a 2004 performance in Chicago were released the following year as a collection only available at a limited number of record stores. This disc was called Discotheque CVB: Live In Chicago.
CVB's 1985 staple "Take the Skinheads Bowling" was covered by Teenage Fanclub and used as the title track for the 2002 Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine. A portion of the original Camper Van Beethoven recording can be heard as an introduction to the DVD release of the film.
- Telephone Free Landslide Victory (1985)
- II & III (1986)
- Camper Van Beethoven (1986)
- Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (1988)
- Key Lime Pie (1989)
- Tusk (2002)
- New Roman Times (2004)
Compilations & Special ReleasesEdit
- The Virgin Years (1993) (by Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker)
- Camper Vantiquities (1993) Rarities Compilation
- Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead. Long Live Camper Van Beethoven (2000) Rarities Compilation
- Cigarettes & Carrot Juice: The Santa Cruz Years (2002) Box Set. Includes Telephone Free Landslide Victory, II & III, Camper Van Beethoven, Camper Vantiquities, & Greatest Hits Played Faster, a bonus live disc.
- In The Mouth of the Crocodile - Live In Seattle (2004)
- Discotheque CVB: Live In Chicago (2005)