The Screaming Blue Messiahs were a blast. More specifically, just about any track from either of their first two full-lengths — both of which sat snugly in the music stacks when I arrived at my college radio station in the late-nineteen-eighties — was a blast of bristling rock ‘n’ roll energy in the midst of a playlist.
I don’t think anyone at our station would have held up the band as some pinnacle artist, transforming the landscape of college rock music nor issuing records that we knew — just knew — would be enduring classics. They weren’t R.E.M. or the Smiths or the Jesus and Mary Chain or any of the other acts that were brandished like irrefutable evidence of the superiority of the music we used to fill up our days and nights. But I’ll bet the first two albums were dropped onto the turntables almost as much as the pinnacles of their rough contemporaries, at my sliver of the left side of dial anyway.
And around this time of the year — when a certain patriotic holiday loomed — there was a good chance that someone at the station was going to turn to the 1987 album Bikini Red and play track four of side one. “I Can Speak American” provided exactly the level of on air protest any twenty-ish college radio kid could crave, especially those (like me) so susceptible to pop culture references that the chorus citations of Charlie Chan, Lois Lane, and Superman sweetened the power-fighting pot.
Listen or download –> The Screaming Blue Messiahs, “I Can Speak American”
(Disclaimer: It appears to me that Bikini Red is out of print as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that properly compensates both the owner of said store and the original artist. It can definitely be bought online, but who knows if anything other than pennies cut in half make it to the band when commerce runs through that platform. If I’m wrong, go buy it from your favorite shop. They can use money for sparklers, too. I believe that sharing this song in this way constitutes fair use, but I do 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.)