Edie Brickell and New Bohemians
Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars (Geffen 24192)
I think a good argument could be made for this album being the most influential white rock album of the 80s. It seems like most of the huge bands of the 90s (and I am intentionally forgetting about the blight that was grunge rock) spring directly out of Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars.
Dave Matthews, Phish, Jewel, Sheryl Crow I wonder how many bands' careers were made possible by the success of this album? Does anyone hate this album? It seems impossible.
At the same time, it's very possible that I think about this album as being much bigger and more important than it is because it was a huge one for me when it came out. But there are plenty of albums I loved back then that I wouldn't make the same argument for now. I hear Edie Brickell & New Bohemians in tons and tons of bands, and while they're almost never bands I even remotely like, it makes me wonder what the hell happened with the band that made this great record. Almost every track is a marvel, and the only real drawback to the album is a fairly strong case of "late 80s" (as in production values). Why, then, has it become so tremendously irrelevant?
I think we can safely blame the music business for killing another good thing. Geffen milked Rubberbands then allowed the arguably stronger follow-up Ghost of a Dog to stiff, which killed the group.
And Edie herself seemed to kind of fade away after marrying the Graceland guy. One pleasant solo album and then a whole lot of nothing is all we saw. Apparently, though, she has recorded more stuff that's never been released, and unbeknownst to most, Edie & New Bohemians actually recorded new material for a greatest hits record that Geffen ended up shelving.
They reunited a couple years back for a really half-baked record that they put out themselves sad. I wonder what would happen if Geffen released some new remasters, calling attention to Edie's highly individualistic voice and the invisible influence of this band.
There's a lot of good uncollected material too (anyone remember Edie's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" from the Born on the Fourth of July soundtrack, or the great b-side "Plain Jane?") but I'm sure the album sells enough to keep the label happy as it is. People buy it, yet you never hear people talking about this album. That bothers me, so I shall devote more HTML to exclaiming my Edie fandom for all the world to see.
At the time, Shooting Rubberbands seemed really groundbreaking, and while now it seems kind of VH1, I don't consider that a necessarily bad thing. The songs are really strong throughout (especially "side 1"), with the singles ("What I Am," "Love Like We Do") not even being the best of the bunch. "Circle" and "Air of December" still french-kiss me passionately (I'm an eternal sucker for the slow songs, regardless what album we're talking about).
"Keep Coming Back" still rocks my withered ass. "Little Miss S" is great jangle-pop. "She" is a good 'un, with lots of Edie's wonderfully creamy, drawly "la-la-la's." "I Do," the unlisted track that closes the disc, is always fantastic, just a beautiful acoustic guitar and voice thing, my favorite kind.
Edie's voice is so pure and fresh, she's really one of the best singers around. Too bad Paul Simon keeps her captive in his opulent mountaintop castle, a bird in a gilded cage. While he moodily walks the long halls with chalice of brandy in hand, waving the bejeweled scepter that "Kodachrome" bought, she sings to no one in a lonely parapet, remembering the real world in rose-colored retrospect.
Oh, you wanted an album review, not fan fiction? Pardon me. Some of the "side 2" tracks slip off me like wacky wall-walkers at this point in my life, kind of grabbing me momentarily but ultimately ending up on the floor. "Beat the Time" annoys me now as then, "Nothing" is like potato chips, and I couldn't tell you how "Now" goes even though I'm listening to it right "now."
The noodly guitar work is something I appreciated in '88 but have come to sort of smirk at, ditto the impulse to "groove." I'll likely never get into Critters Buggin, the New Bohemians spin-off. Who knows, though, if I actually started to smoke pot as I've been threatening to do, I could potentially turn into a real granola kid.
This is an album that deserves to be remembered more than it is. I refuse to join the conspiracy to forget about Edie Brickell and New Bohemians! I shall INSIST it be played at my high school reunion, shortly before I dynamite the gym. THEN THE WORLD SHALL KNOW MY NAME AND THAT OF EDIE BRICKELL, FOREVER ENMESHED!
Jesus Christ, pot? I think I need some Thorazine.
Review by Rollie Fingers Jr.