Forgotten Compilations: Just Say Anything

By the time Sire Records released the fifth volume in their Just Say… sampler series in July 1991, records, cassettes, and CDs had, as deemed necessary, been graced with some variant of the “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” warning label for almost six years. U.S. record companies chose to include the labels in late 1985 after the Parents Music Resource Center began raising a ruckus (which led to a Senate hearing on what the PMRC hailed as smutty and/or violent song lyrics). Needless to say, musicians weren’t happy about the PMRC’s efforts at the time, and nerves were still raw in the summer of 1991. Sire was by this time the home of the edgier acts in the Time Warner family, generally modern/college rock groups but also rappers. The liner notes for Just Say Anything have the included acts’ angry takes on censorship, both real and perceived.

Greg had purchased this CD shortly after we moved into our new apartment, and we listened to it a few times that fall. Quite a few highlights, so let’s get on it.

The disk kicks off with a duet by John Wesley Harding and the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn, written especially for this compilation. “Warning Parental Advisory” imagines a world where it’s the mediocrities of the music biz that receive the dreaded black-and-white warning–you know, Richard Marx, Phil Collins, Heart (well, “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You” is pretty bad), L.A. Guns, Poison, etc., etc.

Next up is “Body Count,” from Ice-T’s O.G. Original Gangster, thus well earning the album’s own Advisory label.

After that, though, it’s mostly a parade of songs that wouldn’t have been completely out of place on last week’s Modern Rock Tracks recap (in fact, two of them were on that chart):

The JudyBats contributed “Don’t Drop the Baby,” a phrase which earned some good-natured fun poked in its direction from Greg and me.

Shoegaze legend Ride contributes the mesmerizing “Today.” Another band added to the get-to-know list.

One of the two actual reasons I wanted to put this post out is JSA‘s inclusion of the Throwing Muses’ “Not Too Soon.” Tonya Donelly really shines, pointing toward her upcoming departure from the Muses and the formation of Belly.

One of the classic late 70s British New Wave songs is the Only Ones’ “Another Girl, Another Planet.” This cover by the Mighty Lemon Drops is pretty straightforward, but I may just like it better than the original.

Not sure how I let Richard X. Heyman’s “Falling Away” escape my notice 30 years ago. A stone cold power pop gem, it could well be the best song on the CD; I put in my order for Hey Man last night.

The two songs this disk shared with the 8/3/91 Modern Rock Tracks chart are “Crazy,” by Seal, and the Farm’s “Groovy Train.” The latter was #17 on both the chart and the disk–I skipped over it last week, knowing I could catch up with it here. Peaked at the dreaded #41 spot on the pop chart in mid-November. Super infectious.

After a few spins in August and September, Just Say Anything got filed away, supplanted by newer discoveries. I did eventually pick up my own copy before I left Champaign-Urbana. While very much of its time, the high points make it worth the occasional listen still today.

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