I need to acknowledge the walls of the college station where I made my home from 1988 to 1993 (and beyond, truthfully). Not the college issued white blandness, but the scrappy, unkempt cover-up provided by student programmers over the years. The walls were adorned with posters sent by the labels and promotional agencies, hand-lettered station policy announcements peppered with wry comedy, and bumper stickers procured from broadcasting brethren across the nation.
There were also patchwork arrays of album flats, the recreations of covers used to promote new releases. A few of those popped out to me, achieving their insinuating purpose of sending me to the record itself, giving it a place on my playlist. Some of those covers tickled my mind because they were vivid or lovely. Some simply served as a reminder of an album to which I’d already silently pledged my allegiance. Interestingly, one of the album flats that always grabbed my eye and interest did so because of its graphic simplicity.
Bonk, the debut full-length from the Australian band Big Pig, boasted a markedly straightforward cover:
The band name, rendered large, and the album title superimposed over it. That’s it.
The music I found there was very 1988, especially the quasi-hit single known as “I Can’t Break Away” in the U.S. Thumping, post-disco with a fierce female lead singer yearning for Annie Lennox comparisons and backing vocals that try to replicate heavy bass drum urgency in their tone, the song almost seems genetically engineered for the movie soundtracks of the day. Of course, that’s precisely where it ended up, getting sonic space on the TV series Miami Vice and in the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (on the movie’s soundtrack, it is nestled between two tracks by the L.A. hair metal band Shark Island.)
The track worked pretty well in a college radio set, too, although it was likely to send fragile little me scuttling back to the personal safety of some gruffly downbeat guitar band, preferable from the Upper Midwest. I might have been occasionally inspired to sample Big Pig’s Bonk because of the album cover, but I also had difficulty breaking away.
Listen or download –> Big Pig, “I Can’t Break Away”
(Disclaimer: I believe Big Pig’s Bonk to be out of print, at least as a physical object that can be acquired from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensate both the proprietor of said store and the original artist. I suppose it could be residing on a compilation or soundtrack out there, but my crack research department — which is, you know, me — has limitations to how deep of digging will be done when, being real, sharing this song in this way in this place should count as fair use. Regardless, I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this track 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.)