94.5 The Edge was the greatest radio station I have ever heard. It debuted in Dallas in the summer of 1989, and for five years it exposed me to more new alternative music than I could have ever imagined. In this continuing series, we’ll take a look back at the songs that made the Edge required listening for anyone with a musical pulse in North Texas in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Songs From The Edge: 1992
Electronic: “Disappointed” (Sumner/Marr/Tennant)
From the original soundtrack Songs From The Cool World
Warner Brothers Records, 1992
Sometimes supergroups DO work. Perhaps Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr never made the true splash they were hoping for when they formed Electronic, but songs like 1989’s “Getting Away With It” and 1992’s “Disappointed” still stand as some of the best alternative tunes of the era. Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant didn’t appear on all Electronic recordings, but he certainly brought his A-game for “Disappointed.” A true classic.
Cracker: “Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)” (Lowery)
From the album Cracker
Virgin Records, 1992
“What the world needs now are some true words of wisdom
Like la la la la la la la la la la.”
My favorite lines from a song that’s full of great ones. I always enjoyed Camper Van Beethoven’s work when I was in college, but sometimes their weirdness was just a little too much for me. With Cracker, David Lowery channeled that weirdness into a rocking alt-country/punk hybrid that immediately paid commercial dividends. Of course, Cracker was still quite bizarre on occasion. I saw them play Edgefest in the summer of 1992 at the Starplex Amphitheater in Dallas, and guitarist Johnny Hickman played the entire show in nothing but a tiny blue speedo. Those of us unlucky enough with seats in the first few rows have yet to recover…
Ian McCulloch: “Lover, Lover, Lover” (Cohen)
From the album Mysterio
Sire Records, 1992
Everybody knows that Leonard Cohen is one of the most-covered songwriters of his generation, but hardly anyone knows about this fantastic version of “Lover, Lover, Lover” from former Echo And The Bunnymen singer Ian McCulloch. After Mysterio failed to make a chart impact, Ian reteamed with Echo guitarist Will Sergeant to form the guitar-heavy Electrafixion. A few years later, Ian and Will would reclaim the Bunnymen name with 1997’s Evergreen.
Too Much Joy: “Donna Everywhere” (Blumenfield/Quirk/Smallens/Vinton)
From the album Mutiny
Giant Records, 1992
Too Much Joy were quite an inspiration for me. I first heard them on the Edge in the summer of 1990 when “That’s A Lie” became one of the station’s most-requested songs. It became so popular that the station actually let viewers call up and record a lie on an answering machine, and then the Edge would dub in the lie during the song’s breakdown.
Too Much Joy followed up “That’s A Lie” with the fantastic Cereal Killers album, and I saw them live for the first time a few weeks after my graduation from college in May of 1991. They played at the Back Room, a classic Austin dive bar that hosted mostly hard-rock bands. After their set, we hung out with them and drank cheap beer and played video games. They happily signed my Cereal Killers CD, on which bass player Sandy Smallens inscribed the following:
“Gary, you are cool. Primus is not. Love, Sandy.”
The thing I really loved about Too Much Joy was that they were just regular guys who formed a band. They really couldn’t play or sing very well, but they had fun and made catchy music. That summer, I formed the band Zen Pirates with some of my best friends. I couldn’t play an instrument, so I became the singer. The fact that I really couldn’t sing didn’t seem to matter much.
What happens next is a long, crazy story. For the purposes of this blog entry, we will move forward seventeen months to October of 1992. My band was in New York City to play at the CMJ Music Marathon. After our showcase at the Danceteria on Thursday night, I had a couple of days to actually enjoy New York City. On Saturday night, I took my girlfriend Beth to see a great triple bill of Material Issue, the Mighty Lemon Drops, and my buddies from Too Much Joy. After TMJ’s opening set, I found them in the upstairs bar and again we drank cheap beer. I don’t know if they actually remembered me from the year before, but I explained how they had inspired me to be in a band and how far my band had come in such a short time. Sandy actually sad he had heard of Zen Pirates. He was probably just trying to be nice, but it was theoretically possible as we had papered all of Manhattan with Zen Pirates posters. We drank some more cheap beer, and then went downstairs to watch the great Material Issue (rest in peace, Jim).
It was a night I will never forget…and that was before all hell broke lose back at our hotel after the show. That, my friends, is a story for another time. Or, perhaps, for a book…
The House Of Love: “Feel” (Chadwick/Livesey)
From the album Babe Rainbow
Fontana Records, 1992
The House Of Love will always be my favorite shoe-gazers. Guy Chadwick had a sense of melody that many others in the genre seemed to lack. “Feel” didn’t even chart in the band’s native UK, let alone the United States. I don’t think the Edge even played it, although the station did introduce me to the band via massive airplay for 1990’s “I Don’t Know Why I Love You.” “Feel” is still an amazing song, and if one person hears it on this blog and seeks out more from The House Of Love, that will make me very happy.
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
Electronic: “Getting Away With It” [Extended Version] (Sumner/Marr/Tennant)
From the 12″ single Getting Away With It
Warner Brothers Records, 1989
Camper Van Beethoven: “Take The Skinheads Bowling” (Lowery)
From the album Telephone Free Landslide Victory
IRS Records, 1985
Electrafixion: “Zephyr” (McCulloch/Sergeant)
From the album Burned
Sire Records, 1995
Too Much Joy: “That’s A Lie” (Smith/Rubin)
From the album Son Of Sam I Am
Giant Records, 1988
Zen Pirates: “Going To The Prom” (Brown/Martin/Maxwell/Willyard)
From the EP Sleep
Cassette-only release, 1992
The House Of Love: “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (Chadwick)
From the album The House Of Love
Fontana Records, 1990
Still a little pissed y’all stole my name. But damn, “Going To The Prom” rocks.
The Cool World dvd was released in 2003 and used copies start above $20. Been waiting for a bluray remaster but would love to see that film again.
I’m a dinosaur rocker, generally – hence my occasional comment love for The Who, U2, Yes or Creedence – and I spent the better part of my teen years in the ’80s spurning the New Wave tunes my friends adored while diving headlong into flea markets in search of old records by the Kinks, the Who, Beatles, Stones, Small Faces (and every other British rock band of bygone days – looking at you, Pretty Things!) By the ’90s, since most of my heroes had either stopped making records or hadn’t made records that were listenable in a decade (cause The Kinks’ “Arthur” ain’t happening twice), I thought I’d never love again. And then I saw the video for Teen Angst (favorite video ever) and was borne anew in Dave and Johnny’s genius. Thank Christ for Cracker. I still don’t know nearly enough about Camper Van Beethoven, but this site has shown me the error of my ways. Preach on!