One for Friday: The Wonder Stuff, “Closer to Fine”

As I’ve acknowledged previously, I and my college radio brethren shared a certain susceptibility to cover songs. That weakness increased immeasurably when the song getting the cover treatment was something that already fit into our alternative music format, a track we’d played exhaustively in its original derivation. It’s not like the Pixies had trouble getting airplay on their own, but covering a Jesus and Mary Chain song could make even their most skeptical fans in college radio (that would’ve been me) swoon. At my station, it was also sort of a stealth means to get around programming policy designed to prevent the “hits” from being overplayed. In the mood to play “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls, but another deejay got to it too recently? There’s a way around that.

The folks at my station also didn’t need a lot of added incentive to play the Wonder Stuff. A modest but noticeable success for us from their 1988 debut, The Eight-Legged Groove Machine, their elevated stature was fully secured with the release of the 1991 single “The Size of a Cow,” which absolutely caught the attention of a group of college kids toiling away in the heart of America’s Dairyland. So there was a keen interest in digging deeper into anything this band offered, and if there was a little gift of an already familiar song on a single or EP or even new full-length, all the better. If it was a song that has already garnered saturation airplay in its day, then jackpot.

Truth is, I’m entirely certain how much this particular track was played at my alma mater. While I was still hanging around when it was first released, I was detached enough from the station’s operations and daily playlists that I only have my own half-informed notions as to what was big there. I’ve got to imagine this was, though, given its energy. It is preserves the singalong appeal of the song while reinventing it ever so slightly. As I already asserted: irresistible.

Listen or download –> The Wonder Stuff, “Closer to Fine”

(Disclaimer: While a good bulk of the Wonder Stuff material is in print–I’m pleased to recommend Hup–it looks like the only way to acquire this song as a non-used purchased it by digital means. By now, I’ve fully established that I have precious little faith that songs acquired through those means will ever put anything but pennies in the pockets of the performers. And it certainly won’t help the proprietor of your favorite local, independently-owned record store. Thus, I humble share the track here, with the pledge that I will gladly remove it from my corner of the interweb if I’m asked to do so by someone with due authority to make such a request. Besides buying a Wonder Stuff album, it’s probably worth your time and dollars to seek out some of those early Indigo Girls records. Your record store friend can help you with that, too.)