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best albums of the 90's: reader's choice

[I've decided to continue on with this theme daily, but from now on I'm going to call it Essential Media (so I can cover all forms of entertainment) and you can find all the posts on this subject here (I don't know how to get rid of that giant robot in the background there, sorry). Reader's choices always welcomed.]

Today's Reader's choice comes from Matt of Overtaken by Events.

tsh.jpgTrip Shakespeare, the greatest band that never made it beyond regional popularity, produced Across the Universe in 1990 and cemented my love affair with the Minnesota indy scene. I actually bought the first copy of this after having walked into a bar in Kansas City and becoming totally enthralled by the
extremely strange band playing. Two guys singing who sounded virtually the
same (brothers, as it turns out), a gigantic, scary dude playing a fretless bass that would make you cry and a female drummer that played standing up. Thus began a long period of going far out of my way to see them at every opportunity.

Across the Universe was their debut on a "major" label (everyone knows the difference between A&M Records and the Titanic), and far outshined anything that came after (shocking, eh?). From the radio friendly "Pearl" to the "The Nail", a song to chill the heart of any teacher of
music theory, you can pull the other ninety-nine CD's out of your fancy-schmancy player and listen to this for the next year. 

It's an album chock-full of love:

When you lay your hand down on my side 

And my veins are filled with a bracing wine 

Then we lay in a stained glass colorful light


"Not long ago you said your life was ended (over) 

Empty of the poison chemical we call love 

Can you believe we laid our heads down 

And let the blade fall twice?"


"When the dogs of the bank are upon me 

And they've come to repossess my car 

I'll be found at the base of the canyon 

I'll be torn from the wreck of the motor"


Can you see those gullies by the road? 

Those are like the ones by Deegan Curve 

That's a place where no one ever goes 

Where I plan to lay one pretty Pearle

and, most importantly, humor:

In the days when I had a job, I got pretty good pay 

But I became a percussionist, just the other day

Trip followed the first commandment in my music world, "Thou shalt be better live than on a recording". With the utterly sexist and screamingly funny "The Slacks" ("Let the blind bottom of my body do the talking") they created the first non-country line dance. It's hard to hear the song without performing the choreography. This is an album, along with the earlier release, "Are You Shakespearienced?" that one always seems to find floating near the top. I realize that 99% of the listening public has never heard it. I suppose that makes it all the more special.

This was a band of the Midwest, no attitude, no pretension and always
able to laugh at themselves. A truly refreshing alternative.

For those of you completely out of the "know", the band Semisonic is composed of former
members of  Trip Shakespeare. You can also check out The Flops.

The committed among you can hear some Shakespearienced
here ( I recommend "Diane" and "Toolmaster.


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