Well, hello! Have you ever walked into a record store and something was playing on the stereo and it sounded so firggin’ good that you had to ask the person working what was playing and then buy the album right away? This has happened twice in my lifetime, both times at a record store called The Quonset Hut in some small town near Cleveland, Ohio when I was college. The two albums:
1)Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque: when I walked into the store there was a song called “December” playing, and to this day it remains one of my favorite songs by this band, and Bandwagonesque remains one of my favorite albums of the 1990s. I remember reading that year that Spin magazine labeled Bandwagonesque their #1 album of the year. Teenage Fanclub don’t just wear their Big Star influence on their sleeves, they wear it as a suit of armor. Think of them as Scotland’s version of Big Star – sprawling harmonies laid over blissful and catchy music – simply a must-have album. I was 21 when it came out, and about two weeks later, we saw they were playing in Cleveland at a club called “The Empire” (now closed) and after just two weeks of listening to this record, we were psyched to see them live. So off we go to my very first club show and it was a dandy. Teenage Fanclub were just great live. By the way, we saw the opening band and thought they were really good, too, although I remember by friend telling me he liked them but they seemed to be an “REM knockoff.” Little did we know it was Uncle Tupelo, who turned out to be one of my favorite bands of the 1990s, also.
2. Dramarama, Vinyl: when I walked into the store it was a song called “What Are We Gonna Do?” that was playing and I found out it was Dramarama, a band I had never heard of but liked instantly. Originally from New Jersey, this was their 3rd or 4th album, and they previously had some sizable success on the west coast because the big station in Los Angeles, I believe it’s KROQ or something, got a hold of a couple of thier songs in ’86 and ’87. Anyway, “Vinyl” was really quite an album, I thought, mixing modern rock and classic rock so well, with really great lyrics and a singer who has one of those distinctive voices that you just know immeadiately when you hear it because it’s so……different. His name is John Easdale, and I always thought if anyone should hit it big, it should have been him. He’s put out a solo album or two since Dramarama broke up, and he still does some great stuff.
Anyway, two great albums by two great bands if you’re looking to take a chance on something.