Forgotten Albums: The Connells, Ring

When I learned I was moving back to Kentucky from Illinois to start the small-college academic life, a top priority was figuring out where to live. Lexington had many more options for apartment living, so it made sense to concentrate my efforts there. I wound up choosing a complex called Raintree, on the southeastern side of town. Not for the indoor pool, which I never used, but for its fairly easy access to the interstate, and hence work: turn left at a stop light, go two-point-five miles until you hit I-75 North, whereupon after another fifteen minutes you’ve reached Georgetown. I lived in apartment #2602 for not quite a year-and-a-half.

There was a strip mall within easy walking distance of Raintree. Among its offerings was a TCBY, a couple of restaurants (locally-owned Cajun and Italian), a gaming store, and an independent CD shop. I imagine I was in the last of these around twice a week, scoping out both new releases and the used bins. Their prices were only okay–I got more stuff at a couple other places in town–but you couldn’t beat the convenience factor.

In those final months at the apartment, maybe one mid-fall, late Friday afternoon on my way home, I swung by this store (alas, the name’s long forgotten to me now) and picked up Ring, the new album from Raleigh’s Connells. I’d known of the band for a few years by that point, though I wouldn’t be shocked if in-store play factored in my decision to buy it.

I wouldn’t say that Ring ever slotted in as one of my go-to CDs, with repeated listens over several weeks. It does, however, possess a top-drawer first four songs, along with a few other charmers among its thirteen cuts. Let’s take a dip into it.

Leading off was the Connells’ third and final Modern Rock Tracks top 10 song, “Slackjawed.” This would definitely have caught my attention if they played it over the store’s system. Could have been a pop hit in another universe…

Next is “Carry My Picture.” One of a couple of songs here about a romantic relationship gone sideways in one form or another. Nice, driving track.

“’74-’75” was a top 10 hit all over Europe in 1995. I heard it on the radio occasionally here, probably on WRFL, but it somehow never dented a chart in the U.S. “I was your sorry ever after”–this is the one that truly never left my head.

I came across the song’s video a few years ago and was fascinated by the then (as of 1993)-and-now shots of sixteen members of the Class of ’75 from Broughton HS in Raleigh. It was only in writing this up that I learned the director updated the clip in 2015 for their 40th reunion. As you’ll see, one of the 16 had passed in the intervening years. It’s almost as affecting as the song.

“Doin’ You” wraps up Ring‘s incredible start. It’s got quite the load of vitriol, but I way dig it.

We’ll wrap with a couple of the songs from later in the disk. “New Boy” was the B-side to “’74-’75.”

And the closer, “Running Mary,” lopes along nicely, throwing in a time signature wrinkle here and there.

After Ring, things got a little tougher commercially for the Connells (not that success really ever found them). Three more albums followed, the last in 2001. There are hints on their Wikipedia page that there may be another one forthcoming in the near future.

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