Oh, god, I mean, seriously, it’s also what college emo angst sounds like, all lispy and emotional and barely able to sing as well as you did in that one good take – the only one people remember because it’s the only one that’s on the record – and let’s all just go get a cup of coffee and compare our rare vinyl collections, already.
All of those bobbing heads in the audience? They were all fighting to stay still, staring at their shoes like they were taught to at those old Fugazi concerts, but shit – they couldn’t, could they?
They couldn’t stand still. They couldn’t help but to move to this barely-in-tune and OMG SO DORKY band.
That’s why The Promise Ring was fantastic. Because they brought happiness back to a legion of ex-Sunny Day Real Estate fans.
They brought dorky back, too. And there was much rejoicing.
It was never meant to be listened to in order – in fact, Apollo 18 was designed to be listened to on shuffle. Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that, on a few glorious select occasions, They Might Be Giants used to rock the hell out of the entire 21-track “Fingertips” suite.
And if this doesn’t make your skull ache for more, you don’t understand the FANTASTIC parts about the soon-to-be-stilted early-90s alternative scene – most of which stood on the line between ridiculous and brilliant.
Linnell: “The project was to write a bunch of choruses and nothing else. In other words, I had to restrain myself from writing any other parts of the songs. I wanted a collection of choruses that’s something like what you see on TV late at night, like that old K-Tel commercials. I was thinking about how you know a lot of songs from these ads, but the only part you know is maybe one line, which is half the chorus. And yet they stick in your head in the way a whole song would. in a way, these tiny chips of songs seem complete, because you don’t know the rest of the song.”
I’m listening to a pre-release of Ben Folds’ new album, Lonely Avenue – a collaboration with writer Nick Hornby – and it’s fantastic, just as you’d expect if you’re a fan of either guy. And then there’s “A Working Day,” the first song on the album, which is probably one of those love letters to how awful it can be to be a writer, which both of these guys totally understand.
The song itself is fantastic. Again.
I can do this/Really I’m good enough
I’m as good as them but don’t take it from me
Ask my friends/Ask my sister
They all think my stuff is great
Up there with any of them
I just need a break
I’m a genius/Really I’m excellent
Better than them I kick their asses
All of them/Even that guy
Who thinks he’s fucking cool
Gets all of the attention/He doesn’t sell shit does he?
Some guy on the ‘Net thinks I suck/And he should know
He’s got his own blog
I’m a loser/I’m a poseur
Yeah, really/It’s over
I mean it, and I quit
Everything I write is shit
I’m a loser and a poseur
It’s over/It’s over
I mean it, and I quit
Everything I write is shit
Hey Hey/It’s a working day. (x3)
You’re all nodding. You know.
The ‘Net’s going to HATE this album. Predicting a Pitchfork review of 2.5.
(Bonus! Here’s a preview video of a song that’s not on the album, featuring Pomplamoose. Also awesome. If you ignore the cutesy blah blah after the song.)
It was kind of a perfect storm: R.E.M. had released what is easily one of the best albums of the decade and, months later, the Reagan/Bush era had been put on notice thanks to Bill Clinton’s win in the 1992 presidential elections.
R.E.M. chose not to tour with Automatic for the People. But, nestled in the warm embrace of their home town, Athens, Georgia, and in the name of a Greenpeace benefit, they played an invitation-only event at the 40 Watt Club.
The version of Drive that came out of this show is still one of my favorite live performances ever. Yeah. I just said “ever.”
I had a copy of this show. It was the first bootleg I’d ever fall in love with. Thanks to the professional recording, it sounded fantastic, and the setlist was brilliant.
“Monty Got a Raw Deal”
“Man on the Moon”
“Losing My Religion”
“Begin the Begin”
“Fall On Me”
“Me In Honey”
“Drive” – second take for the Greenpeace recording
“Love is All Around” – cover of The Troggs
“Fun Time/Radio Free Europe” – cover of Iggy Pop, bleeds into “RFE”
Somewhere along the way, I lost the album. And I’ve been looking for it since.
To be honest, it hasn’t been that far away. Because of the nature of the performances – rare live recordings of songs from Automatic for the People, superb sound quality, a fantastic re-imagining of what would become one of R.E.M.’s biggest singles – the show was split up and released as CD B-Sides to many of Monster’s singles. I have many of these singles and so, unknowingly, I had a good chunk of this performance already hibernating on my iPod.
But, to quote a post from “rec.music.rem,” the sum of the songs does not equal the brilliance of the whole show.
…While the songs themselves sound incredible (especially “Country Feedback”, which by late 1992 had not yet been turned into the pompous dirge it became during the Monster tour), the end result did not add up to a complete presentation of the show: apart from the first take of “Drive,” one more song was left off (a not particularly strong version of “Love Is All Around,” the Troggs cover which the band had performed so well in acoustic guise during the promo-tour for Out Of Time), as well as the major part of the great chats in between songs.
So I continue to look for this show, happy to have some of the songs – especially “Drive,” – but ultimately left feeling incomplete. In a rare occurrence, the Internet has left me riddled as to how to pick a copy up without spending a huge chunk of money. R.E.M.’s liberal bootlegging policy approves of bootleg trading and downloading in an effort to curb illegal sales – they have a message board devoted to it – but this show is strangely absent.
Someday it will turn up. I’ll download it. I’ll love it. And until then, I continue to search.
As I should have expected, this post was responded to within hours by twofriends who could help me find this show. And find it I did.
It’s just as good as I remembered. A stunning version of “Fall on Me.” And a fantastic – and surprising – off-the-cuff version of “Radio Free Europe.”
Now that I have this in my possession, I guess I could probably scale back the R.E.M. fanboy-hood a notch.
Hey, you know how fantastic classic jazz album art can be?
Well, here’s proof. In live action.
This is “Hi-Fi,” for the Bellavista Social Pub (in Italy) and its upcoming summer concert series. It’s a celebration of Blue Note’s 70th Anniversary. It’s a sampler of living picture form. It’s the type of thing that makes so many of us jealous of talented film producers and designers and other artists on a daily basis.
When Jets to Brazil formed from the ashes of Jawbreaker and Texas is the Reason, they went on tour with The Promise Ring and ran through Minneapolis on their way to bigger and better things. I missed the first song of their first MPLS show, showing up just as they were finishing. It was this one: a song so filled with hope and happiness and love that the crowd was left wondering if this, indeed, was the same Blake Schwarzenbach that had filled an entire career of Jawbreaker songs with depression and broken hearts.