It’s A New Breakthrough, It’s An Old Breakdown

A week between posts is a lengthier gap than normal for me, but there are reasons. I’ve been distracted some by my newfound interest in Strat-o-Matic, gearing up for a second month-long tournament (I did not reach my goal of .500 play in the first one, but hope springs eternal). We’ve drafted again and I’ve been spending too much time thinking about lineups, opponents, etc.

I’ve begun prep work for the fall semester, learning the content of a new class I’ll be teaching and starting a short course on structuring online classes. We’re beginning to get information from the Provost’s office about how teaching in the fall will (or may) be conducted. It’s going to be a busy summer; I’ll mostly be planning for bad-case scenarios.

But I’ve also been feeling the weight of current events and experiencing a bit of guilt over not acknowledging that in this space. I am not a deep thinker and possess a lifelong aversion to conflict, so perhaps it’s better to say little. I’ll leave it at this: 1) over the last few years, I believe I’ve begun to awaken to how much my white, American, middle-class maleness shelters me from the poor-to-horrific treatment so many blacks, other people of color, women, and LGBTQ people regularly receive; 2) I’m embarrassed it’s taken so long for this to penetrate deeply; 3) I can do so much better myself going forward. If that makes me heading down the road to becoming woke, so be it.

On to some music. I was churning out mixtapes at a pretty regular rate between 1992 and 1995. Here’s side A of one that was likely produced around May of 1994, as it includes several songs from purchases I made that spring (it was a regular in my car’s tape deck by June).

Lindsey Buckingham, “Countdown”
Didn’t really get into “Wrong,” the first single from LB’s 1992 release Out of the Cradle, but the follow-up sure was a winsome, catchy piece.

Sam Phillips, “Signposts”
One of the true musical highlights from the first half of 1994 was Phillips’s mash letter to middle-era Fab Four fans, Bikinis and Martinis. (It’s not just the sound she tried to capture; song titles include “Same Rain” and “Strawberry Road,” and there’s also a cover of Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.”) This is one of three songs from it that made its way to mixtapes. Wound up seeing her do a set at an outdoor festival in the DC area that summer.

The Monroes, “What Do All the People Know”
80s New Wave nostalgia was already on its way by early 1994, when EMI started releasing its Living in Oblivion series. There are at least three songs I ripped from Vols. 2 and 3 for this effort. First up is a great lost hit from 1982 (first mentioned here a couple of years ago). You never know what might have happened chart-wise had their record label not folded soon after its release. I’m wondering now if I heard this on WCLU the summer before I left for college–it must have been on their playlist then.

Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Kiss Them for Me”
With “Peek-a-Boo” and this one, SatB put out two of the era’s most arresting sounding college rock lead singles. The Eastern influences made this stand out particularly.

Adam Schmitt, “River Black”
As much as I like its sound, for several years now I haven’t been able to look past that this is a story song that culminates in killing a woman for rejecting the narrator’s advances (or maybe he’s an abusive boyfriend). I’m not saying I’ll skip over it the next time I put World So Bright in my CD player, but I’m not going to embed a video here.

I enjoy power pop quite a bit, but have to admit that misogyny–casual and otherwise–appears in it with some frequency.

Voice of the Beehive, “I Say Nothing”
A trans-Atlantic group, fronted by California sisters Tracey Bryn and Brooke Belland; the Brits included Danny Woodgate, former drummer for Madness. I’d picked up Let It Bee, VotB’s 1988 debut, sometime in the spring. It’s got a few excellent tracks, and this one is my favorite. The slide into singing about arcades is a bit goofy, but I think youthful enthusiasm overcomes that. The single version softens more bad male behavior: the line “He’ll rip your heart in two” we hear below replaces “He’ll rip you right in two” from the LP version.

The Gin Blossoms, “Allison Road”
I’m a big fan of New Miserable Experience. “Hey Jealousy” is my pick for the album’s high point, but “Allison Road” isn’t all that far behind. What would this video look like today–would someone be lugging 40″ flat panel TVs through a house, up and down the stairs?

T’Pau, “Heart and Soul”
One of my faves from the summer of 87, this is another from a Living in Oblivion disk. I suppose it’s the juxtaposition of Carol Decker’s two very different sets of vocals overlaid on each other that made it such a stunner.

Lush, “Nothing Natural”
Not sure why a cut from Split, their early 1994 release, isn’t here instead (“Kiss Chase” and “Hypocrite” did appear on other tapes). Lush has any number of great songs, but this 100% pure shoegazer (produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, if you couldn’t tell) is decidedly my favorite. The official video is cool, but only features the single edit.

The Sugarcubes, “Coldsweat”
I don’t like this song as much as I used to, but those final, ferocious forty seconds still deliver a shiver.

Counting Crows, “Omaha”
My sister lived in Spokane for almost a year right after she got married in May 1993. I visited her and my brother-in-law early the following January and picked up August and Everything After while I was out there. I’ll confess to having been hooked on “Mr. Jones” for quite some time; here’s another of its many fine tracks.

Shawn Colvin, “Round of Blues”
I kinda dissed “Steady On” a few months ago, but “Round of Blues,” from Colvin’s second album Fat City, is brilliant–I think it’s her best song.

Kim Wilde, “Kids in America”
Reached back again to 1982 to wind up side one. Y’all already know I really love this one.

Side two leads off with a big hit but on average it songs are less well-known; a recap will appear soon.

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