Continuing to draw inspiration from the recently posted autumn of 1989 90FM album chart, we turn to a band that was one my favorite discoveries upon landing at the college radio station. Close Lobsters hailed from Scotland and played a brand of punchy pop laced with tender paisley twinkling and brutal cynicism in roughly equal doses. In my late teens, nothing could have pleased me more. Headache Rhetoric, the band’s sophomore LP and final full-length release until a reunion some two decades later, landed in rotation during my first summer as a student broadcaster, and I gave it loving attention (though I probably still gravitated my first love, the 1988 EP What Is There To Smile About?). Much as I enjoyed the record, I never owned a personal copy until much later.
When I lived in Asheville, North Carolina, I transferred a reasonable amount of my paycheck over to the good people at Harvest Records. Few annual events in the city stirred my excitement quite like their anniversary sale, which entailed cracking open the doors to their basement storage area packed with records priced at one dollar apiece. It was a crate-digger’s delight, a haphazardly organized bounty clearly drawn from large collections they’d acquired and didn’t want to bother sorting through to cull the few shards of prime material. Sure, the same records cropped up box after box (they had a lot of Bill Cosby comedy albums in last year’s sale), but doggedness yielded wondrous rewards.
Most of the albums in the basement sale hailed from the nineteen-seventies, when, aside from a dalliance with 8-track tapes, records were the prime delivery method of music and everything sold a ton. Linda Ronstadt’s Living in the U.S.A. shipped Double Platinum. There are still plenty of copies out there. On rare occasions, some beloved relic from the college radio era would find its way amidst all the battered copies of the least-loved offerings of Little Feat and Loggins and Messina. I believe I actually gasped when I flipped forward some musty nineteen-seventies record jacket to find the murky purple cover of Headache Rhetoric staring back at me. The hunter one box over even asked about the band, only to immediately lose interest when it turned out they weren’t some obscure blues rock toilers from around 1972. It didn’t matter. The record was mine, all mine. The fact that the sleeve was a little worn out only made it feel that much more like it was a twin of that copy I regularly yanked free of my old station’s music library.
Sometimes I think that my ideal record collection would be an exact duplicate of my college radio station’s music library, circa 1989. My outsized pleasure at unexpectedly acquiring Headache Rhetoric certainly doesn’t refute that notion.
Listen or download –> Close Lobsters, “My Days Are Numbered”
(Disclaimer: I believe Headache Rhetoric — and perhaps the entire Close Lobsters catalog — to be out of print in a physical for that can be acquired from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of said store and the original artist. Much of the band’s music appears to be available for digital purchase. I highly recommend every bit of it, at least from their original run, but I have no faith that money spent in that manner goes into anyone’s pockets apart from the big digital delivery services. What I’m saying is this: I believe that sharing this track in this way in this space cause no real fiscal harm to parties that deserve to have their revenue stream unimpeded. Still, I know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)