Strangely enough, you often can judge an album by its cover. While the old adage about books and covers remains fairly sound when applied to the products of the publishing industry, there’s a remarkable correlation between awful album art and bands that have plainly run out of ideas. Similarly, an album cover that absolutely leaps out and grabs the viewer often houses a record that contains equally striking music. And then there are those particularly fortuitous times when an album cover somehow conveys the entire sense of the music it fronts and promotes.
The second full-length from the U.K. punky pop band Senseless Things, the deceptively titled The First of Too Many, boasted cover art from Jamie Hewlett, then best known as the artist and co-creator behind Tank Girl and now best known as one of the forces behind cartoon dance floor heroes Gorillaz. Just look at that cover: boisterous, fevered, exuberant, colorful, endlessly engrossing. All those descriptors can be fairly ascribed to the music on Senseless Thing’s album, which is breathlessly energizing with hearty doses of the brand of britpop that seemed unstoppable when it was released in 1992 (not for nothing did they open for Blur). I remember just staring at that cover in the college radio air studio as I sent some infectious track out over the air. If nothing else, I still know quite a few people who would love to have that lovely green-haired girl’s leggings.
It was also one of those albums that was so uniformly good that no particular song or songs ever stuck out for me, a quality that was both, as the other saying goes, a blessing and a curse. Sure, maybe that They Eat Their Own album only had one good song on it, but that helped make the song memorable and, in our crowd, ensured that it showed up on a whole lot of mix tapes. I’d bet that a lot of my college radio compatriots don’t remember much about the music of Senseless Things. But surely they remember the cover.
(Disclaimer: I could surely be wrong, but it looks to me like The First of Too Many is entirely unavailable for purchase, either as a new CD or as a digital download. Dedicated scroungers may be able to fit it in a used bin somewhere, which of course means that it’s just a few keystrokes away online. But that won’t provide money to the artist, so sharing one song here shouldn’t unduly harm anyone’s bank account. While I earnestly believe this–and believe even more strongly that the wounded principle of “fair use” also means it’s entirely okay for me to post the song here–I also understand that there are things in this world called copyrights. I will gladly acquiesce and remove the file from the interweb if I am asked to do so by someone with due authority to make such a request.)