At the college radio station, I was always firmly committed to the idea that we were supposed to dig deeper onto albums. Our commercial competitors up the dial were the sad souls that could only be bothered with one or two tracks from most artists, blandly following the directive of label executives who deemed certain songs more likely to burrow their ways into the minds of helpless listeners. Those of us who staffed the student-run outlet were no sycophants. We still believed rock ‘n’ roll was about rebellion and open expression. Personal choice dictated our playlists, not craven market-researched grasping for that next big hit. There were times, though, that the most hyped albums to hit our heavy rotation really did come down to just one song.
Southside, the debut album from the U.K. band Texas, was released in the United States during the summer of 1989, several months after it had already stormed the charts in the group’s home country. So it came in with a full load of record label excited urging, conveying to the college kids that this group was the next big thing. It was important to get on board early. It proved to be a solid radio album, with all sorts of songs up and down the track listing sounding agreeable nestled in the middle of a summer afternoon set. But it was the lead single that was irresistible. “I Don’t Want a Lover” was a breakup song built out of resilience, unfolding as tender and easygoing, with just a hint of a highly buffed modern blues. Sharleen Spiteri’s rich vocals helped the recall the Cowboy Junkies, who’d claimed lots of college radio airtime with the previous year’s album The Trinity Sessions. But the Texas song moved and glistened in a way the more somnolent Cowboy Junkies material didn’t.
Here in the States, “I Don’t Want a Lover” can reasonably be heard as the beginning, middle, and end of the Texas story. Back home, though, that single was truly only the beginning for the group. They chugged along and even had a string of Top 10 hits, beginning with “Say What You Want,” in 1997. I’ve barely sampled their other material, but none of what I’ve heard sounds nearly as earthy and warm as the material on their debut. That might be part of the reason it became more successful. For me, I’m happy to stick with the pleasing memory of setting the needle in place to play their first single back in my first summer at the college radio station. Like almost everything else I played, it was somehow imbued with possibility.
Listen or download –> Texas, “I Don’t Want a Lover”
(Disclaimer: Okay, so this is one of those weeks where I admittedly cheat a little. While it’s unclear to me whether or not Southside is available as a physical item that can be purchased at your favorite local, independently-owned record store — or, for that matter, if there is some Texas “greatest hits” style compilation, sure to include this song, still in print — I believe the band’s stateside success to be so fleeting that sharing this seems like fair game. Regardless, it should be considered fair use, but I’m aware that concept has been all but obliterated. So, while I mean no fiscal harm to the artist, and, despite the framing of the above piece, actively encourage anyone who listens to and likes this song to seek out Southside, I will still comply with the rules. This means I will gladly and promptly remove this music 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.)