A couple weeks ago, I posted the 100th One for Friday entry. It came and went without me noticing, even though I tend to be hopelessly geeky about such things. With so many of these weekly wallows in sonic nostalgia, I can easily lose track of which songs I’ve already celebrated with a few hundred typed words. A few weeks ago, I even broke down and worked up a spreadsheet to make sure I don’t repeatedly indulge in the same tired story about, say, a a crazy album cover being discussed on air during a year-end countdown show. Turns out, it’s not just a handy bit of data collection to prevent redundancy. It also helps me figure out that I’ve unexpectedly neglected a song that I would naturally assume I’d gushed about at my earliest opportunity. So I checked through every means I have, and I swear I haven’t written about one of the finest pop songs that a late eighties playlist could hold.
The Jack Rubies hailed from England, and they sounded it. They had that offhand command of a perfect pop hook, delivered with the bright insolence of a bully boy, that should have made their efforts the envy of brethren across the pond. It seemed there was just something about crafting songs in a music culture that still valued–even venerated–singles that inspired bands to throw their metaphorical shoulders into the task of making something brilliant that would wrap up in three-and-a-half tight minutes. Their single “Be With You” found its place onto college radio stations and into the admiring confines of MTV’s 120 Minutes. It wasn’t, as it turned out, the opening salvo in a long, prosperous career. Nothing else from their debut album ever took off (not even the ironic cover) and their sophomore release, the scary-clown-faced See the Money in My Smile languished on our shelves, sampled occasionally by DJs hoping to find that magic song that recaptured the verve and drive of the first single.
But longevity isn’t everything. There’s something to having that one great song, that joy-inducing charge of pop greatness that is utterly irresistible, no many how many times it’s been heard. That’s what The Jack Rubies produced with “Be With You.”
(Disclaimer: As best as I can tell, Fascinatin’ Vacation from The Jack Rubies is out of print, although I’ll readily concede that this song just might stir up enough nostalgic goodwill among smart compilation assemblers that it could be available out there somewhere. I’m posting this here under the belief that it’s not something that can be purchased with ease in a way that will provide compensation to both the artist and the proprietor of your favorite independent, locally-owned record store. Though I embrace this rationalization, I don’t do so with such stubbornness that I would petulantly refuse to remove it from the Interweb if contacted by anyone with due authority to make such a request.)