Saturday, May 2, 2009

Band of the Week - Lush (My "Bobby's Dead" Season of "Dallas")

If there is an afterlife, I fully expect to "come to" hearing the simple, yet hypnotic beginning of "De Luxe". The song, off the 1990 release "Gala" (4AD), captures all elements of the band, Lush (1988 - 1996), hitting on all eight cylinders (or two cylinders for Fiat 500 fans - the inspiration for "500 - Shake, Baby, Shake").

Back when MTV used to live up to their name, they had a show "120 Minutes". Anyone who had a cassette from any "college music" band is now likely heading to YouTube to find their favorite song. I'd simply ask that you give me five minutes (that will leave you 115 minutes), to tell you a Lush story.

So, in the fall of 1990, I was living with my folks and during a period of mental abstraction, my father decided to get cable television. Having 40 choices soon became irritating for dad, but in the three months we had it, I happened to catch the video for "Sweetness and Light". The next day, I bought Gala. As is often the case, over the course of the next few weeks, I played that tape to the point where my girlfriend nearly didn't become my wife.

In early 1991, I landed a job as a reporter for the finest weekly newspaper in Illinois - The Pike Press. Located 30 miles from any towns with a non-Wal Mart affiliated music department, my affair with Miki and Emma slowly faded. A lot happened the year I moved back to Saint Louis - I got married, we bought a house, I changed professions. I still had "Gala" and it would seem to reappear occassionally - luring me in. By 1996, when tragic circumstances led to the band's eventual breakup, Lush occupied something similar to a cell phone "dead zone" in my brain - any calls out were not being connected. Unfortunately (and as my wife will attest), I believe that cell phone coverage is improving in inverse proprotion to the "dead zones" in my brain.

Fast forward to 2007. We've since moved - "Gala" packed away in box marked "basement" since 2000. Upon returning from a vacation, we find that we've had a bit of leak. We are out of our house for four months. After the reconstruction begins, we are forced to move most of the undamaged furniture in our back basement (which reminds me, we probably ought to start moving it back out). During one of these trips, I spot a box marked "basement" and open it - a snapshot of my musical past! Near the top I find "Gala" and remember "Sweetness and Light". I ran upstairs to find my laptop, got on YouTube and was knocked cold.

Lush didn't just put out "Gala". This one album (actually two EPs "spliced" together) had more than satisfied me. There were three more releases. They were part of Lollapalooza. THEY HAD BEEN IN SAINT LOUIS IN 1994! In 1996, at the peak of their popularity, their drummer ended his life. The band spent much of the next two years trying to lift the weight of crushing sadness and in 1998, sent a brief announcement that they could no longer continue as Lush - an announcement that was largely ignored by the short attention span music press.

I couldn't believe what I missed - damn it all! But then I came across "Superblast!" I never heard that song before - a swirling, soaring, all-crescendo effort that clocks in just over four minutes. If I'm ever going to run a mile in anytime close to four minutes, this song will be the soundtrack of that effort.

I bought Ciao off iTunes, read "at-the-time" reviews of the band's later releases. One song, "Undertow" (on the album, "Split") caught my attention in the 30-second preview. I wanted to hear more...went to YouTube and searched for it and instead of the 4:57 album version, was greeted with a 9:13 remixed epic. While watching the accompanying video (taken during the 1994 tour to support "Split"), I learned Lush was in Saint Louis and apparently we're quite taken with the Arch. There are no performance spots in the video, yet by the end, it absolutely drains you.

And as it fades out, you can't believe its over...

No comments:

Post a Comment