It was late in 1991, or maybe early in 1992 and I heard Two Princes – it had a slinky groove that I really liked. I wasn’t quite as fond of Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong but I must have liked it enough because next thing I owned the album.
I’m talking, yes, about the stupidly titled Pocket Full Of Kryptonite by the almost absurdly awful Spin Doctors. The lead singer looked like the son Ginger Baker disowned because of the stupid hat he was wearing and/or because of the really daft songs he was singing – and that really dumb way in which he wore the hat and sang the songs.
But the grooves, man. I thought they were pretty sweet. The drummer, Aaron Comess, had something as far as I was concerned. And he applied it well – within the confines of this pesky, perky pop combo.
I blame Modern Drummer magazine. As a keen reader I’d follow whoever was on the cover, always sure to check out their material. And Comess made the cover one issue. So I kept going with collecting Spin Doctors material. Someone sold me a cheap copy of the live album, Homebelly Groove because they had hated it (the correct response to this band by the way).
And that’s where I zeroed in on Refrigerator Car, also from the Kryptonite album but it was the live version that really caught my attention. Comess again, that’s the story I’m sticking to – that was the reason to be (in any way) involved with this music. That 9/8 intro really killed.
But what a stupid song.
There would be (plenty) more stupid songs from this band. I know because I bought and paid for them, I collected and listened to them.
Amongst my group of friends at the time if there ever was any interest in the Spin Doctors it was fleeting and – perhaps fittingly – you thought of a better way to explain your interest (like saying you only really listened to the drummer). But certainly by the time of 1994’s Turn It Upside Down the band was done. Over. Right?
Well, not so for me. An appalling song called Cleopatra’s Cat sucked me in. You’re cringing right? You should be. I was cringing just pasting in that hyperlink. What a revolting song. But Aaron Comess had a groove going that I liked. (I listen to it now – as painful as it is and I can still, almost, hear that groove and what I liked about it. Though of course I’d prefer not to).
Excuses were wearing (very) thin and in 1996 I purchased You’ve Got To Believe In Something – even if, if anyone asked, I most certainly did not believe in the Spin Doctors. (Not any longer).
But something made me keep buying the albums. I know now that the something wasn’t just Aaron Comess. It was my own stupidity.
These days that lure isn’t there – not so much. There are ways to get hold of the things you want to hear or feel you need to hear. You can, most simply, preview tunes online. You can go to YouTube to check out a link – or to a bunch of other sites as well or instead. So perhaps this sort of story really is a thing of the past.
But I was wondering if you were ever conned (by yourself) into collecting up the music of an artist because of the contribution by one member. It happens in a lot of cases if you’re paying attention to one of the instruments for research/practice purposes. You’re a guitarist so you buy everything that features the work of a really great session player. Or you play the drums so you get hooked into buying anything that features a particular drummer.
The careers of Fourplay and Toto exist largely because other musicians buy up this hideous music. Same with The Yellowjackets. I even sat through a Yellowjackets show one time. Well, some of it anyway…
But were the Spin Doctors that sort of band? I don’t think so. I have a feeling it was just me. I was alone in treating them with some form of reverence (albeit very short-lived) because I liked the work of the drummer. That was my story. And I’m sticking with it.
But I thought about this because I found a copy of Pocket Full Of Kryptonite – a burn. A blank CD with the album title and band’s name scrawled angrily across it in black marker.
Obviously, many years ago, I gave away the CD – or threw it away, most likely traded it in at a second-hand store for 20 cents. But I was sure to make a copy of the music – for reference.
That was always the excuse.
And I listened to it – because, well, you can’t get much worse than listening to a Rick Astley tape twenty-five years after it was released and because I wanted to see if Aaron Comess still sounded good and if the music really was horrible.
The music remains horrific, of course. And even if I could still feel some attachment to the groove-playing I recognise now that there are plenty of players every bit as capable and many far more interesting. Many of them are also blessed with plying their trade as part of songs that still sound good, that still feel fresh, that have no embarrassment-factor attached at all.
So – care to confess to any music that you bought and followed even if you knew it was
terrible but you were hooked in from an early age and/or you liked the work of one of the players in particular?
And anyone else have memories – good or (most likely) otherwise of the band Spin Doctors? I hear they’re still going. And going. And going…I got out around 2000, having purchased – yes – sad, but true, Just Go Ahead Now: A Retrospective.