A debate flared up from time to time at my radio station regarding the relative merits of digging into albums versus concentrating on the singles. It was more of a jabbering-over-beers debate than an almost-coming-to-blows one, but still it was there. Generally, I opted for the deep cuts argument, feeling it was what most differentiated us from just about everyone else on the dial. Especially in an era that found some of the most unlikely college rock bands and tracks crossing over (seriously, how on earth does “I Touch Myself” become a Top 5 song?) sticking to what the labels chose as the best three-and-a-half minutes on any given album would have made us sound too much like everyone else. What if there’s something better to play just a little further down the long groove?
But there were definitely instances when I was a one-song deejay. Surely I played other tracks from the Shaking Family’s debut album and sole full-length release, Dreaming in Detail, but I don’t remember any of those needle drops. I do know with certainty that I played lead single “Tic Toc” a lot. It is a quintessential 1990 single, poised at the convergence of rootsy music and slicked-up pop with just a touch of left-of-the-dial edge. Barbara Carter’s powerful, pristinely rough vocals seem like they were genetically engineered to appeal to those radio programmers who were constantly chasing the next Toni Childs or Melissa Etheridge. It is built on one of those hooks that doesn’t immediately announce itself as ingenious but gets deeply embedded in the brain anyway. I couldn’t get enough of it.
There weren’t any additional albums from the Shaking Family, and I doubt anyone else at the station I called home gave them much thought after Dreaming in Detail moved somewhat rapidly through the rotation. I went back to “Tic Toc” with some regularity, though. And when the twelve-inch single of the song eventually made its way into the “up for grabs” bin, I was damn sure to snag it. All these years later, it still gets semi-regular plays.
Listen or download –> The Shaking Family, “Tic Toc”
(Disclaimer: A new copy of the CD is available for purchase on Amazon, but I don’t believe for a second that Elektra Records has actually kept it in print for twenty-five years. Other sources I check seem to back that up. So I operate under the belief that you cannot cross the threshold of your favorite local, independently-owned record store and ask them to procure a copy of Dreaming in Detail, eventually acquiring it in exchange for United States currency in a manner that will compensate both the proprietor of the shop in question and the artist. I don’t really care if what corporate entity has its claws in the Elektra back catalog gets any money. The song, then, is shared here with the understanding that doing so impedes no fair commerce. I will gladly and promptly remove it if asked to do so by any entity or individual with due authority to make such a request.)