Realistically, it was all about R.E.M. I arrived at the college radio station in the fall of 1988, one year after the little ol’ band from Athens, Georgia released Document, the album that can be fairly termed their breakthrough into broader commercial success. Even before that, though, the were in complete command of the college charts. The dominance was so complete that any artists even mildly associated with R.E.M. got a boost. By the time I arrived, that absolutely extended to any band on the same label that launched R.E.M., the mighty I.R.S. Records.

It’s not unusual for college radio kids to adhere lovingly to a label, of course. But I always thought I.R.S. Records was a little different from the firmly focused independent music shingles of my day, which could be almost monolithic in their sound. I liked SST Records, but I can’t say they ever surprised me. Right or wrong, I always felt like dropping the needle on an I.R.S. Records release could take me just about anywhere. There was a confidence about taste level, but that’s where the certainty ended. Of course, what other certainty would I need?

All that means there are a bevy of records from my first few years that haven’t necessarily endured as huge favorites, but that still stir up some nostalgia, just because I played them so much back in the day, hunting for that next band of the caliber of R.E.M. that the label might unearth. From memory, I couldn’t provide a single detail about the band Caterwaul or their 1989 album, Pin & Web. But I know I played the record plenty. Just one listen to “The Sheep’s a Wolf,” the album’s opening track, and I can feel myself back in the studio, studying the art on the jacket.

Listen or download –> Caterwaul, “The Sheep’s a Wolf”

(Disclaimer: To be honest, I haven’t really checked on the availability of Pin & Web as a physical item that can purchased from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor or said store and the original artist. Since it’s a fairly obscure album and act, I’m assuming it’s fallen out of print. Regardless, my intent in sharing the file is not to impede commerce, but to provide a fair use sample of the band’s music. I will gladly and promptly remove the 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.)

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