Friday, February 25, 2011


In honor of the SUPER 8 DEBUT ALBUMS Blog Hop coming Monday (have you signed up yet?), here is a review of a classic debut CD that is also one of the best albums released in the nineties.

Way back in the nineties, I was driving somewhere in the greater Philadelphia area, and listening to the alternative rock station. That was back when "alternative" still kind of meant something, and when the alternative stations really played music you couldn't hear on mainstream stations. Anyway, they played a song by some guy named Todd Snider that was styled in the Dylan "Talking Blues" style but the subject was a send up of Grunge-mania.

And it was hilarious.

Hysterical enough for me to seek out that new comic's album. But he wasn't a comic. And when I got the CD (Songs For The Daily Planet) home, I fast-forwarded through a couple of times, and that song wasn't even on the disc. Boy was I pissed.

Angry enough to go back to the record store (Compact Disc World in Cherry Hill, NJ - sadly a casualty of the declining music biz) and complain. Imagine my embarrassment when they told me that it was a hidden track at the end.

A ha!

After "Joe's Blues" ends, you have to sit through a minute or so of nothing to get to that song.

But it's worth it.

A funny song, that was the foreshadowing of Snider's storytelling talent. Although I am glad artists have moved away from such antics as hidden bonus tracks, because frankly, pressing fast forward to skip two minutes of silence is a hassle and CD's are supposed to be convenient.

But I digress.

A funny thing happened.

I started listening to the other songs on the disc.

And as it turned out, "Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues" was far from the best song on the album. In fact, this was a cracker of a debut, that deserved to be listed up there with albums like "Boston" and "Rickie Lee Jones."

Maybe ranked even higher, since Snider actually took the time to think of a title, and those guys chose the lazy eponymous route. Genre-wise, it's in the alt country zone that has since become mainstreamed by Ryan Adams (but in 1994 was alternative enough to earn the "alt" moniker), but the songwriting is from a young man who is gifted.

Call him roots rock or alt-country, Todd Snider has been largely ignored by the musical mainstream, and, to borrow a line from "Alright Guy," I still don't know why. This album is simply a masterpiece, demonstrating that Snider has songwriting chops comparable to guys like Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon, Nick Lowe, and that Dylan feller.

Like the title of his latest live release implies, Snider is a natural storyteller. There are all kinds of characters on the debut album, from the concerned neighbor in the affecting `You Think You Know Somebody,' to the rejected youth in the mournful `That Was Me' and the misunderstood stoner in the third verse of 'Alright Guy.'

If you need inspiration, try 'Somebody's Coming' on for size. After all, "somebody's coming and he don't need your vote!"

Simply put, this CD is amazing. If every generation has their Dylan, Todd Snider had the title for the nineties, and set the bar for a challenger pretty high with this album.

Everyone should own this record. Splurge and buy it new so Snider gets the royalty and credit for the sale. Signing him was one of the few things the record industry has done right in the last twenty years.

And don't forget the SUPER 8 DEBUT ALBUMS Blog Hop coming Monday (have you signed up yet?)


  1. This sounds interesting. Those hidden tracks are one of my peeves. I have one album that has one after about 12 minutes of silence. I recall having listened to the album and then forgetting it had been on and then freaking when the music suddenly started after all that silence. It's a gimmick that may have worked a couple times but it's a gimmick nonetheless.

    Tossing It Out

  2. My Super 8 Debut is ready to go. Dude, that was more difficult than anticipated! But I selected eight.
    Might want to leave a reminder comment on the blogs of those who've signed up. I've found it helps!

  3. Lee-

    In Snider's case, it's a gimmick he used on his first three albums, and none of the songs were throwaways. Not one I'm fond of, however.


    It was tough for me as well. I'll leave reminders tomorrow.