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.
My Personal Chart, September 8, 1990
The companion Spotify playlist has all the songs discussed in the blog.
My Personal Chart Blog, September 8, 1990
Part 2, Section 1 – The Anatomy of a Jellyfish and the Power of Pop
The King Is Half Undressed/Jellyfish (24)
This song was my introduction into a band that would become one of my favorites of the early ‘90s. The band only released 2 albums, “Bellybutton” in 1990, and “Spilt Milk” in 1993 but they have a legacy that has brought me back to their brand of Power Pop 30 years later. The band has/had a cult following, though some critics derided them as derivative. True that the influences from the Beatles, Queen, the Beach Boys, and XTC are evident, but the pastiche of melody and lyric is what made them special. This is not to say they were not praised as well, one writer calling “Bellybutton” the “Pop album of the year” and the influential Q Magazine giving it 5 stars.
The band was unfortunately lost in a world that was not part of the prevailing popular music trends though they did find an audience on Modern Rock radio. ‘King’ made it to #19 and the follow-up “That Is Why” reached number 11 (and #1 on my personal chart). The bubblegum of “Baby’s Coming Back” took the band onto the Hot 100 where it reached #62, their only appearance on that chart. They fared better on the UK singles chart, hitting that one 6 times with ‘King’ the only one to crack the top 40. 2 other “Bellybutton” appearances on that chart were “I Wanna Stay Home” and “The Scary Merry-Go-Round” EP that featured the song “Now She Knows She’s Wrong (15). The album was co-produced by Albhy Galuten, producer of the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack and 13 U.S. #1 songs by the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb. Barbra Streisand, Frankie Valli, and “Islands In The Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. My friends Brian and Steven gave me a heads up on that separately.
I found an interesting commentary while doing research. “Contributing bass guitar to the album was Redd Kross’s Steve McDonald, lured in by the promise of an album that was meant to sound “somewhere between Queen and the Partridge Family”.
Anyone who knows me well is aware that the Partridge Family is partially responsible for my deep dive journey into music consumption. Indeed, the opening of ‘King’ features a harpsichord, so central to PFam’s “I Think I Love You”, while the ending of ‘Baby’ is the most overly Partridge of the bunch. In addition, and funny, Redd Kross contributed to the soundtrack and had a cameo appearance in the 1990 movie “The Spirit of ‘76”, starring David Cassidy. Their song from the soundtrack, “1976” is a fun slice of Power Pop. They also made the Modern Rock top 20 later in ‘90 with “Annie’s Gone”.