Album: Electric Chair
This is my favorite song in what is perhaps the all-time smallest category: “Late-90s Songs About Gene Hackman as Sung By 1980’s College Rock Icons.”
How small? There are only two songs in this category: The Hoodoo Gurus’ “Gene Hackman” and Robyn Hitchcock’s “Don’t Talk To Me About Gene Hackman,” which may or may not be an answer song. Probably not, as Hitchcock’s is a live acoustic take that was a hidden track on Jewels For Sophia.
Album: In Blue Cave
The year is 1996. I’ve moved to Oakland, and I’m doing what I did at least twice a month on Saturday mornings: digging through the recent additions in Amoeba Music’s used CD section.
It was one of my rituals: driving into Berkeley first thing on Saturday morning, standing in trade-in line with CDs that had run the gamut of usefulness in order to get some store credit to offset the a bit too much I was going to spend on music that day.
After four good-to-great albums in a row, the Hoodoo Gurus finally stumbled with 1991’s Kinky and 1994’s Crank, both of which suffered from songwriting that just wasn’t up to their previous standards.
And when you’re a straight-ahead rock and roll band, and all you are ever going to be is a straight-ahead rock and roll band, you live and die on the strength of your songwriting, and — for the most part, those two records just didn’t have it.
Album: Magnum Cum Louder
I don’t know. While the vast majority of the songs I write about were singles, or at least major album tracks, occasionally I hit upon a song that was neither, and yet speaks so deeply to me that I can’t help but write about it.
Like “Shadow Me,” which is on the list of Prettiest Songs Ever Recorded, Hoodoo Gurus Division, and yet is a song that I expect to get little to no reaction when I post it. But I don’t even care: except for the utterly god-like “Bittersweet,” it’s my favorite Hoodoo Gurus song, and pretty much always has been.
Album: Magnum Cum Louder
After the massive utterly 1980s sound of Blow Your Cool! didn’t raise their profile one whit in America, the Hoodoo Gurus retrenched a bit, changed record labels, and followed it with the more restrained Magnum Cum Louder.
Of course, that “restrained” is relative, but at least the drums sounded like drums again, and the spaces between the acoustic guitars and electric guitars were more defined.
And Magnum Cum Louder sported their only #1 U.S. Modern Rock song (for whatever that’s worth), the pure pop “Come Anytime.”