1989: Virgin V2-91266
I first heard Future 40s while painting rooms in a veterinary hospital in Renton in 1990 (long story), and I recall stopping work completely and staring at the radio in amazement. So much good music came out in 1989, and an impressive proportion of that was Athens-GA-related . Even though I barely knew of Michael Stipe at the time, his voice is often twangy and always unmistakable, and in this pairing with Syd Straws double-tracked twang and the twangy guitar work, well, that makes for a LOT of twang. I wouldnt have been so inclined to listen to it, but the lyrics were so arresting: the future looked like the 40s and we were ready! / This isnt the way I dreamed it would be someday (This is what Ive settled for) / Hey man Im makin moves and I am so much stronger than you .
When I finally tracked down a copy of this album (first on vinyl, then on CD in an it-fell-from-the-sky kind of miracle) I found that that song was indeed every bit as great as it had sounded; the rest of the album zigzags in quality (to my ear, that is). I very much enjoy Crazy American and Racing to the Ruins, and sometimes The Unanswered Question, but the other tracks either dont move me or do actually annoy me (especially, in the latter case, because some wordplay or joke is being stretched out to constitute an entire song, and the jokes just arent that clever). And maybe Im just from too much of a different culture or heritage, but Hard Times actually hurts to listen to.
So I play my favorites, thank Straw (and Stipe) for providing the stuff I like, and leave the rest undisturbed.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.