When I was a naive, scruffy undergrad working away at the college radio station, I spent a lot of time on the phone with record reps. We ran a relatively modest station, but a fair number of the labels still called us on a weekly basis. We got a lot of attention from Mercury/Polygram and regularly related the details of our charts to duly appointed representatives for the likes of Alias, Giant, SBK, Virgin and Geffen. These were our conduits to the music that we loved, and, in some sense, people who were working in our dream jobs. They were immersed in the music industry, spending their entire day talking about the records that we loved. This was undoubtedly a flawed view as they were likely plugging away at mind-numbing work in crummy little offices for meager pay. Still these were the people that we knew in the industry, people who had inside information and early access to new releases. They were our connection. After dutifully reciting the chart placement of their records, we’d often spend time yammering away on the phone about anything and everything. I recall once having an extended conversation with a record rep about Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse, particularly about the way it progressed in real time.

So when one of the reps we worked with the most showed up as the drummer for a new band, many of us felt an almost familial responsibility to play the record. Stephanie Seymour was, if I recall correctly, the rep for Island Records, and in between checking up on releases from U2 and Melissa Etheridge, she slyly mentioned a pending offering from I.R.S.,: Love With the Proper Stranger by The Aquanettas. Even though Stephanie had probably made a personal connection at one point or another with almost every college music director in the country, the album didn’t turn into a resounding chart success. I think it gained some traction on the CMJ charts, and we certainly gave it a healthy number of spins in our little studio on the ground floor of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Communication Arts Center. And I’ll wager that I’m not the only person who worked as a Program Director around that time that still has the CD nestled into my own personal collection.

Weirdly, the incredibly brief allmusic entry on the band was based on quirky vocal stylings and strange hair styles, as if someone tried to save time by cutting and pasting a single sentence out of an old B-52’s review. The Aquanettas’ hair didn’t look strange to me.

The Aquanettas, “Love With the Proper Stranger”

(Disclaimer: The album in question sure looks to me like it’s out of print, but it is readily available for purchase as a hefty batch of digital songs. So if you like the song you hear here, you should think about going and making a purchase. And if anyone with due authority to do so asks me to remove the song from the Interwebs, I should think about doing so. In fact, I will. Quickly and happily.)

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