The Instant Fan Chronicles, Part 2

Digging back into the hard drives and pulling out another ten tracks that made me a (possibly quite temporary) fan

The Instant Fan Chronicles, Part 2
[dreamy 1986 sigh]

It was not my intention to continue this series so soon, but it's been another long day and I'm just finishing dinner after a somewhat difficult phone call with a family member, so... back into the hard drives we go. Let's see if I can muster the mental capacity to serve up another ten tracks that made me a fan (albeit perhaps not a permanent one) the first time I heard them!

"Sent by Angels," Arc Angels
I spent much of 1992 feeling like the musical landscape I knew and understood had been suddenly ripped up and paved over by acts who wore flannel and were sad all the time, but the fall of that year bubbled up a handful of albums from artists who seemed to be speaking my language. Arc Angels, a sort of supergroup that rose from the ashes of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble after his tragic and untimely death, had a place of honor on that list, cemented by this moody, guitar-driven ode to an object of affection. They're apparently still together in a somewhat modified form, although their self-titled '92 album remains their one and only studio LP.

"How Men Are," Aztec Camera
I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure my first full-time job involved cleaning and then delivering medical supplies for a small mom-and-pop company in the Bay Area. I spent about a year there, and while the work wasn't anything I ever really enjoyed, I made some good friends on the crew, including one guy in particular whose tastes ran heavily toward the adult contemporary side of the continuum. He hipped me to this old Aztec Camera track mere months before the "band" returned with 1993's Dreamland, which includes some fine songs in its own right, but "How Men Are" will always be my first love.

"My Kinda Girl," Babyface
During my sophomore year in high school, I managed to finagle a TA period as one of my electives, which made me a "teacher's assistant" to one of my favorite teachers — I'm putting air quotes around that, because I wasn't ever much help at all. The quarter started out with me and two other guys, which didn't last long; a week or so in, he approached us and imparted some immortal wisdom that I've repeated countless times in the decades since. Here it is: "One boy is a whole boy, two boys is half a boy, and three boys is no boy at all." Before long, the third guy went off somewhere else and I was left with a senior named Mark, who quickly became my best buddy; his love for all things hip-hop and R&B added a bunch of new stuff to my entirely caucasian record collection. Babyface's Tender Lover was far from the best of the bunch, but I'm going in alphabetical order here, so "My Kinda Girl" it is.

"Rock of America," Bad Company
I don't believe in guilty pleasures and I'm also not a big believer in regret, and nine times out of ten, when I take a deep breath and offer up a song or album I loved decades ago, I'm going to own it. There are exceptions, however, and this is one of them. I cannot deny that I rewinded back to the beginning of this song countless times during my walks to high school in the spring of 1989; I also cannot give you a single reason or argument in support of this happening. Equally indefensible is the fact that while I purchased this and the next two studio LPs featuring vocalist Brian Howe, I have never really bothered to dig into the "real" Bad Company discography. Come at me all you want; I've got nothing in defense. Holy shit is this song stupid.

"Friday Night (Is Killing Me)," Bash & Pop
I was a latecomer to the Replacements. I was kinda-sorta aware of "I'll Be You" during its brief chart run, and I purchased All Shook Down from the Columbia Record House or BMG Music Club or something, but the former didn't strike much of a chord at the time and I'm pretty sure I only bought the latter because Georgia Satellites drummer Mauro Magellan played on one song. It wasn't until the mid-to-late '90s that I was bitten by the 'Mats bug and started greedily binging the catalog, along with assorted satellite releases like the '93 release from Tommy Stinson's Bash & Pop. As mournful and resigned as it is catchy, the title track remains a favorite.

"Brass Monkey," Beastie Boys
There's nothing I can say about these guys that hasn't been said already, so let me just say this: Licensed to Ill was so undeniable that it kicked a hole in the Billy Joel-shaped wall around my wholly pop/rock listening habits. Also, my first copy of this album was stolen from the Wherehouse, a cassette that I surreptitiously slipped into one of the many pockets of my Bugle Boy pants. I'm pretty sure a couple of much cooler kids enlisted me to join them in lip-synching "Girls" for the seventh grade talent show. Thank goodness we all ultimately found less humiliating things to do.

"One," Bee Gees
I have absolutely no idea why I did this, but at some point in the spring or early summer of 1989, I purchased the cassingle of this song, and became instantly smitten with the new sound of a group I had never wanted anything to do with because their disco rep struck me as deeply, irredeemably corny. Of course, the Bee Gees of 1989 were just as corny to a whole lot of people, but I still really like the trio of records they released for Warner Bros. in the late '80s and early '90s, along with at least one of the albums they put out for PolyGram. I played the shit out of this record during the summer of '89. Was I spiritually in my 30s? Perhaps.

"Good Night," Bel Auburn
This band hit me up for a record review during the early Jefitoblog days, and I really liked what I heard. I guess I must have been one of the only ones, because the album this is from remains their most recent release. I look them up every so often to see whether time and circumstance might have brought them back together, but so far I've rolled snake eyes on that every time. Alas.

"Mad About You," Belinda Carlisle
Have I ever listened to a complete Belinda Carlisle record all the way through? I'm pretty certain the answer is no, although I did receive promo copies of 1991's Live Your Life Be Free and 1993's Real and I'm sure I heard enough of them to know I didn't want to review either. Still, I cannot tell a lie: "Mad About You" was one of my jams in the summer of 1986. I was 12 and she was Belinda Carlisle; that's all there was to it.

"Jackson Cannery," Ben Folds Five
The truth of the matter is probably more nuanced than what I'm about to say, but here's what I remember: From 1992 through at least 1994, the rock airwaves were clogged with downtuned guitars and a whole lot of moping, with precious little room for anything that wasn't at least grunge-adjacent, and most of that room was taken up by the Black Crowes, who I was irrationally pissed at for reaping the type of success that the very similar Georgia Satellites should have enjoyed. Anyway, I digress; the point is that no one was expecting to hear a peppy record from a rock piano trio in 1995, and "Jackson Cannery" does a killer job of shaking you by the lapels from its first few notes. I'm of the opinion that Folds' output became increasingly less reliable as his career wore on, but this is a helluva way to announce you've arrived.