Here’s some absolutely fantastic news: if you’re already a fan, you can’t wait for these pristine new editions; if you don’t know, you’re about to discover one of music’s true gems (or two, in this case).

A Memphis pop icon, Van Duren was not only a contemporary of Big Star, he played with both Chris Bell and Jody Stephens in The Baker Street Regulars. Managed by Andrew Loog Oldham (The Rolling Stones), his 1978 debut album, Are You Serious?, found folks comparing him to artists like Todd Rundgren and Paul McCartney.

Now, four decades later, thanks to the acclaimed documentary Waiting: The Van Duren Story, and its accompanying soundtrack, many discovered Van Duren for the first time, while those who knew about him found out what really happened. Finally, Are You Serious? returns, remastered from the original analog tapes on CD, LP, and—for the first time—digital.

Thirteen originals written by Duren (with Jody Stephens being the only co-writer on one track), and packaging featuring new liner notes from Van and previously unseen photos, it’s time to get serious about the album that has had collectors searching high and low for a copy for years. Looking and sounding better than ever, it’s time for Are You Serious?

After the release of Are You Serious?, Van Duren immediately returned to the studio—recording 14 tracks (one being a medley of two songs) that rivaled his tremendous debut. But, the album was shelved and didn’t see the light of day for two decades, when inexplicably, it was released in Japan without any input from the artist.

The story is chronicled in the aforementioned documentary, Waiting: The Van Duren Story. Now, at long last, Idiot Optimism returns on CD as Van originally intended it to look and sound. Plus, it makes its first-ever appearance on (double) LP and digital.

With full creative control from Duren, this reissue of Idiot Optimism is packaged with new art, liner notes from Van, outlining the story of the album, and many previously unseen photos. Featuring 14 originals and a cover of Chris Bell’s (Big Star) “Make A Scene,” this new edition is remastered from the original analog tapes. Idiot Optimism has never looked nor sounded better.

Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism will be available Friday, October 30th, 2020

By Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been involved in the music industry for over 30 years - as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, freelance journalist, producer, manager and working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star, traveling down South and his orange Gretsch. He's pretty groovy!