There are so many albums out there, meaning countless efforts that once stirred interest, even in a small pocket of listenership, get entirely left behind. My recollection is that when the self-titled, debut release from Boston’s East of Eden arrived at our radio station, sometime in 1989, it got a respectable amount of airplay, especially for the single “Mystic Love.” It was preceded by some modest hype, helped along significantly by the release’s major label status. It didn’t become some major hit for us, as evidenced by its absence from the year-end chart, but it landed on the station turntables with some frequency.
As far as I can tell, this was the band’s only release, so there was no reminder to the on-air staff of their previous record’s existence upon the follow-up. Instead, the album that was added to playlists when it was in our rotation was all but forgotten when it moved into the general stacks. Certainly the slicked up pop sound (Trouser Press compared East of Eden to Simple Minds as a means to dismiss them) was already starting to fall out of favor as the eighties were giving way to the nineties. The buzzy insistence of the Pixies was fast replacing the grandiosity of Tears for Fears on the left end of the dial. A band like East of Eden never had a chance.
This isn’t a woeful lament for a band that should have been huge. I’ve listened to East of Eden fairly recently, and it’s not a lost classic. It’s fine, solid enough, and there’s definitely an appeal to lead singer Cinde Lager’s vocals. Like a lot of releases from the time, it’s tempting to imagine it with at least one less layer of studio shellac on it. But I also need to admit that this kind of sound — professional, controlled, produced — stirs a very different nostalgia for me, and an appreciation for the time when labels and bands felt they needed to put some real effort into courting the college radio crowd. By the time I returned to the noncommercial trenches some ten years later, there was such a defiant adherence to sometimes painful lo-fi sensibilities that a band that tried for audio gussying up would have never made it off of music directors’ desks. Hell, no one would likely send it to the college stations in the first place. It was a turn of events that could make college radio feel like an afterthought. Songs like “Mystic Love” make me pine for the brief stretch of time when labels really wanted the attention and affection of student programmers.
Listen or download –> East of Eden, “Mystic Love”
(Disclaimer: It is quite difficult to find information on the band East of Eden. There are simply too many other, far more popular options that spring up in online searches, including a whole other band of that name. Still, I’m more confident than usual, just by the way the band and its sole release feel like they’ve been erased from the collective memory, that East of Eden is out of print, at least as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a way that fiscally benefits both the proprietor of said store and the artist. That is the context I carry as I share this song on my humble little corner of the internet. I mean no harm. That typed, I will gladly remove this track if asked to do so by any entity or individual with due authority to make such a request.)