It’s so bizarre to me that the 90FM charts from around this time are peppered with the sort of improbably enduring prog rock bands that I thought I and my cohorts had swept out of the main airplay times with an aggressive recalibration of the stacks a couple years earlier (the 1996 list previously counted down had a Rush album in it, which I think is at least partially explained by the fervent fandom of a good friend who graduated that particular year). Thrak was the first full-length studio album by King Crimson in over ten years. Multi-instrumentalist Adrian Belew was part of the lineup at the time, and he was both a station favorite and a Wisconsin resident. That could cover it. Without that explanation, I frankly don’t hear the appeal.
The smart aleck punkers from Philadelphia were one of the staple bands during my early years at the college radio station, fueled largely by the surprising success of their 1988 single “Punk Rock Girl,” which in turn served to keep us returning to their earlier college radio hits. By the time I graduated, in 1993, they’d eroded some of that goodwill with increasingly strained and unfunny albums. By most accounts, Stoney’s Extra Stout (Pig) arrived as the immediate nadir of the band’s catalog, with a flurry of songs that certainly had that Dead Milkmen sound but maybe didn’t strike the ear as jarringly original any longer. This album also represented a retreat of sorts, with the band returning to their original home with Restless Records after a unsuccessful dalliance with the major label Hollywood Records. They officially broke up shortly after this album. As with many of their contemporaries, a reunion eventually happened, although only after the untimely death of bassist Dave Schulthise, better known as Dave Blood, in 2004. They’ve released a pair of albums in recent years, including the fairly well regarded Pretty Music for Pretty People, just last year.
The Hatters were a band from New York City that melded funk with bluesy folk in a way that undoubtedly spoke directly to the genial Midwestern folks at the radio station, who strongly responded to those groups that sounded like they’d fit real well into the corner of a bar that did heavy business in Leinenkugel’s. Similarly, the fact that the lead single was called “The Naked Song” probably made the college kids feel like they were getting away with some bold, naughty, and adult by playing it. I fell prey to all the same enticements just a couple years earlier, so I’m not criticizing. I’m merely reporting what I believe to be the basic trends that help explain how music that is now completely forgotten (thought I hardly engaged in the most rigorous digital detective work, I can’t find a single track off of this album that is readily available for listening out there in the well-stocked web) could have briefly been popular enough to raise it almost halfway up the station’s year-end chart. You Will Be You was the band’s final album.
— An Introduction
— 90-88: The Falling Wallendas, Parasite, and A.M.
— 87-85: North Avenue Wake Up Call, Live!, and Life Begins at 40 Million
— 84 and 83: Wholesale Meats and Fishes and Orange
— 82-80: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, Fossil, and Electric Rock Music
— 79-77: Coast to Coast Motel, My Wild Life, and Life Model
— 76-74: Gag Me with a Spoon, Where I Wanna Be, and Ruby Vroom
— 73 and 72: Horsebreaker Star and Wild-Eyed and Ignorant
— 71 and 70: 500 Pounds and Jagged Little Pill
— 69-67: Whirligig, The Basketball Diaries, and On
— 66 and 65: Alice in Chains and Frogstomp
— 64 and 63: Happy Days and Exit the Dragon
— 62-60: Lucky Dumpling, Fight for Your Mind, and Short Bus
— 59-57: Good News from the Next World, Joe Dirt Car, and Tomorrow the Green Grass
— 56 and 55: …And Out Come the Wolves and Clueless
— 54-52: We Get There When We Do, Trace, and Twisted