Learn more about an era of music and the connections behind the songs. Interwoven with personal anecdotes, commentary and artist history. A unique way to tap into music nostalgia and discovery.
The companion Spotify playlist has all the songs discussed in the blog that are available. Individual playlists for each blog entry are available on My YouTube channel.
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
YouTube playlist with the songs from Part 6
Part 6, Familial Ties and Unties (Let the Meek Be Strong) and the Ladies Who Lilith
The Eurythmics /Power To The Meek (8)
The Eurythmics went 10 years between the 1989 album “We Too Are One” and 1999’s “Peace”. In-between Annie Lennox had a successful solo career which included the fabulous album “Diva” and Dave Stewart formed the band the Spiritual Cowboys, with members of the Pretenders and Ian Dury & The Blockheads, which released 2 albums. He also released 2 solo albums later in the 90’s.
The “Peace” album was not the comeback they had anticipated with the first 2 singles failing to make the UK top 10 (“I Saved The World Today” reached #11 and “17 Again” #27). A dance remix of “17 Again did reach the summit on the U.S. Dance chart. ‘Again’ was also featured in a season 4 episode of “Will & Grace”. Those 2 songs, and another single “Peace Is Just A Word” only had minor impact on me, none rising higher than #85 on my personal chart.
I was looking for a highlight from the album and found it in ‘Meek’, the fifth single released from the album; a song that played off of their rockier side (it peaked at #3 2 weeks earlier in April). My 2 favorite songs by them, “I Need A Man” and “Missionary Man” both had a prominent guitar edge, that I feel complimented her voice well. That is not to say she couldn’t kill it on a ballad, check her solo debut single “Why”. ‘Meek’ ended up my #32 of 2000, the sixth and final time the band made my top 50 of the year.
Fiona Apple was in my top 20 this week with “Limp” (16). It was a slow burn type of song for me, taking 17 weeks to reach my top 10 (eventually it peaked at #7). Since the release of her debut album “Tidal”, Apple has taken a strange path to stardom. She just released her fifth album (and first since 2012), “Fetch The Bolt Cutters”, to critical acclaim in April. It debuted on the Billboard 200 at #4 and the single “Shameika” is her first to garner significant radio airplay in well over a decade.
A lot of her work can be described as “Art Pop”, not dwelling on the confines of a true pop structure. Rhythm changes, Jazz flourishes, deep poetic lyrics, all combine to create something singular. “Limp” follows some of these. The background of this sounds like it comes from David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”, a percolating cauldron. The song comes from her second album, When The Pawn…’’, which at the time boasted the longest album title ever; 88 words and 444 characters, actually a poem she had written.
A reviewer compared the title to Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping”. Not sure what the reference pertains to, but it was that UK band in 2008 that broke her record with a title that had 865 characters. They appeared on my chart this week with “She’s Got All The Friends” (140). If you can believe it, they released 19 albums (7 before “Tubthumper”) and were together for 30 years (1982-2012).
Apple had my #1 song of 1997 with “Criminal”, a smoldering, sexy song that was #1 for 11 weeks. The dissonant piano led song “Fast As You Can” was her only other radio top 10, making it to #8 at AAA. Her father is actor Brandon Maggert who was Buddy in the Jim & Buddy skits on the first season of Sesame Street and played the oldest brother on the Showtime sitcom “Brothers” between 1984-89. Her half-brother Garrett Maggert is also an actor.
My Personal Chart, April 29, 2000
YouTube playlist with the songs from Part 5
Part 5, Clueless In Minneapolis, A Basement Full of Music and Indie in the Heartland
Camel Junkies /Beats The Hell Outta Me (4)
I have extraordinarily little information about this indie band. This is a brooding rock song with an impassioned, if not perfect, vocal. I cannot pinpoint what it was that struck me most about this song even though it spent 2 weeks at #1 on my chart at the beginning of April. It starts with acoustic guitar, eventually brings in fuzzy electric guitar, has modulation and gets more intense as the song goes on. The song is not available on any streaming services, YouTube or sites like LastFM of Bandcamp.
I knew I had the CD, so I went to my CD graveyard in the basement. My basement is mostly unfinished with a dirt floor and minor moisture problems. Most of my CDs, albums and singles are down there as we don’t really have space to display them; sad. I was trying to wear a mask as I went through boxes but, oy was it humid. It was not the most fun I’ve ever had though it made me want to figure out how to get these things displayed. I had separated the CDs and books from their cases for the most part and some were in alphabetical order, but not the Camel Junkies. After a third attempt (I have a lot of music down there), I found a promotional case with a sticker listing 5 of their songs. The CD was actually in it! It was blank so I was not even sure that it would have music on it, but it did. I know I have the full album “Random Events & Narrow Escapes” as well but have not found that yet. It was great to hear this angsty song again (I’ve now probably listened to it 10 or 15 times in the last week).
The internet provides scant info on the band. I do not know where they are from. I do know that a Camel Junkies song was added to 2 college radio stations in Jan/Feb 2000, one in Great Falls, Montana and the other in Hoboken, New Jersey. The CD is available on Amazon for $38.99 and one of the 3 reviews on Amazon is from a guy whose friend’s sister dated the lead singer. I love random, stupid stuff like this.
The track that was pitched to radio I believe was “Fuzzy”, which I remember but did not chart. It is a bit of a raunchy song but lively and perfect for college radio at the time. I did chart 2 others though, “I’m Okay” and “Lack Luster Life”.
A good amount of American indie music at the time had an Alt-Country framework. The Scott Laurent Band from Minneapolis was among those. “The Next One” (116) had just spent a couple months in my top 100. In the 80’s the Minneapolis rock scene had produced 2 influential Alternative bands in The Replacements (their biggest hit was 1990’s “I’ll Be You”) and Husker Du (“Makes No Sense At All” peaked at #2 on the UK Indie chart in 1985), and both the Junkies and Laurent seem to be born out of that wheelhouse.
I have to stay with Husker Du for a second. The B-side to ‘Sense’ was a remake of the Mary Tyler Moore show theme “Love Is All Around”. Bob Mould, the lead singer, had a solo #4 Alternative hit in 1989 with “See A Little Light” and went on to form the band Sugar in the early 90’s and had 3 songs make my top 100 of year in 1992 including “Helpless”.
The next band, also Minneapolis bred, is Johnny Clueless, a band that credits their sound to a mix of the Heartland Rock of Indiana’s John Hiatt with the Pop Rock of the Bay City Rollers. You can hear these influences on different tunes from the album “What’s Your Flavour?”. I was clearly enamored with the band in the spring of 2000 with 4 songs on my chart this week.
**UPDATE May 19: I searched through the last 2 boxes of CD’s this morning and I found the actual Camel Junkies CD. It was the third to last of the bunch (a few hundred), of course.The liner notes said it was recorded at Oarfin studios and that record label also was the home of Johnny Clueless and the Scott Laurent Band. They were indeed from the Minneapolis area. In googling the band members I found one, Shaun Felegy, who still lives there.