Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Gin Blossoms

Out of all of the bands that were buzzbin worthy of the 1990s, I followed the Gin Blossoms more than the others simply of the fact that they came from my old stompin ground of Tempe Arizona and I came across them by accident of being the last second replacement of the beloved Sand Rubies/Sidewinders at Chuy's. So seating in front of them with some super fans and part of the opening act band Echo House I got to see and hear the majority of the Gin Blossoms songs to which their A and M debut was slated to be released later that summer of 1992.

They had a connection with the Sidewinders by releasing their debut on the San Jacinto Label which was owned by Rich Hopkins of that band. The GBs had a great songwriter with another Hopkins, the late genius Doug whose fondness for the outrageous and booze led to his parting of the GBs. The first album Dusted is in that Arizona pop rock that the Sidewinders was famous for and a lot of the songs off that album got remade for New Miserable Experience. Dusted was out of print and highly sought after till the GB's reissued it for a brief time on their Gin Blossom label.

If you want to know about 90s power pop from Arizona, New Miserable Experience remains one of the best albums of the 1990s with songs such as Hey Jealousy, Mrs. Rita, Untill I Fall Away, Found Out About You and Alison Road. It was that rare album that the label picked no fewer than five songs for singles and all got airplay bigtime in 1992-1993. But also the GBs also had minor hits with a nice cover of Soul Deep and another concert favorite Idiot Summer. New Miserable Expierence can be found in the dollar bins but I still think it remains their most perfect album and A and M expanded it with a bonus cd of choice live cuts and a couple from Dusted and other tracks that didn't make it on the album. Critics didn't care much for it, in fact old crank Robert Christgau gave NME a C plus and dismissed it but I believe that record went above him. In the classic rock of the 90s, Mrs Rita or Hey Jealousey is playing somewhere.

But what was supposed to be their shining moment, they never quite recaptured the pop magic of that album after Doug Hopkins departed (Hopkins later formed The Chimeras and wrote songs that would be become Mistaken For Granted before committing suicide). True they continue to have radio hits with Follow You Down and the Marshall Crenshaw cowrite Till I Hear It From You but Congratulations I'm Sorry, while good wasn't great. While A&M backed them wholeheartedly, there are actually more best of Gin Blossoms then there are actual albums. Outside Looking In, pretty much cherry picks the best of both albums and that got replaced by the 20th Century Masters Series.

The Gin Blossoms broke up, Robin Wilson formed the more darker rocking Gas Giants and did a decent album and then did a cartoon recording with famed cult guitarist Tommy Keene. Jesse Valenzula made two decent albums as a soloist and with The Odd's Craig Northney. And then in 2006 The GB's reformed and made Major Lodge Victory on Hybrid, this time with help from Danny Wilde. But Hybrid went bellyup but the Gin Blossoms continue to tour and have a new album coming out on SLG's 429 Records in September.

But I still continue to have good memories of this Tempe band that continues to play up here in Iowa in the summertime. Saw them during the Flood Festival of 1993 and they will be playing at the Bar B Q festival on June 25, 2010. And they still remain one of the best live acts to see, even 18 years after encountering them at Chuy's. And still despite so so recordings remains one of my favorites acts to come out of the 1990s.

"Hello, we are the Gin Blossoms from Tempe Arizona, ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and we all out of bubble gum............................."

The albums:
Dusted (San Jacinto/Gin Blossoms Records 1989) A-
New Miserable Expierence (A&M 1992) A-
Up And Crumblin' (A&M EP) B+
Congratulations I'm Sorry (A&M 1996) C+
Outside Looking In-The Best Of (A&M 1999) B+
Major Lodge Victory (Hybrid 2006) B
In Concert (Cleopatra 2009) B
New Miserable Experience Expanded Edition (A&M 2009) A-
No Chocolate Cake (629/Savoy 2010) B

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bands Of Passing Interest For June

Here at the RSCMC, I keep the subject on music and bands of note. I kinda gotten a bit lazy over the past three months and with further prodding from my GF, I decided to add a couple bands of note, meaning bands that I do have a few albums from but not all of them. Consider them a step ahead of Can't Review Them All but a step below of a discography. Since I don't get much traffic in the RSCMC I pretty much consider this my own reference guide.


They were ahead of the Eagles in terms of forming to play country rock and roll and somehow can be blamed or praised for country music today. I'm not exactly a big fan of Poco but I do have a couple of their albums. My favorite remains Delivern' their 1971 live which is the final album of their famed lineup of Jim Messina, Richie Furay, Rusty Young, Tim Schmidt and George Grantham. Randy Meisner who played on Pickin Up The Pieces was the original bass player and left due to problems with Messina. And they Had a minor hit with A Man Like Me. I could refer you to the Very Best Of Poco, the 2 record overview which showcases the highlights (You Better Think Twice, Good Feeling To Know) as well as the lowlites (Bad Weather) but I perfer their rocking country over the country ballads that tend to drag their albums down particularly From The Inside. But however I docked the CD copy of Very Best Of Poco twice for the omission of Railroad Days which was the hardest rocking track on From The Inside.

Even though the original lineup tends to be fondly remembered it was Paul Cotton and Rusty Young keeping the name and band going throughout their career, espeically after Furay departed after Good Feelin To Know. I do have a fondness for their forgotten Cantamos album and have kept a lookout for their 1975 ABC debut Head Over Heals which includes the beautiful Keep On Trying. Each album got them more closer to MOR than country and radio played Crazy Love and Heart Of The Night from Legend. Under The Gun was uneven as hell despite having a nice rocking title track and though I heard good reviews of Cowboys And Englishmen, never heard the album itself. Last single I brought was 1983's This Old Flame which was on Atlantic and though Rhino issued both of Poco's albums on Atlantic as a two on one, it may have been the weakest albums from them. And then just in time for the CD age, RCA got the original band back together to do the moneygrab Legacy with the original lineup and although they had their biggest hit since Crazy Love with Call It Love, it was not too inspired. Part of the problem was Paul Cotton was missing, they had too many outside songwriters and the music wasn't memorable.

Although they were mostly a cult band, the best album to get remains The Ultimate Collection from Hip-O, since it contains most of their well known songs for Epic, ABC-MCA, Atlantic and Call It Love song. But for original Poco material, it's Deliverin for me and Contamos and Head Over Heals.