Best tunes of 1992: #17 Adorable “Sunshine smile”

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Vocalist and guitarist Pete Fijalkowski, guitarist Robert Dillam, bassist Stephen ‘Wil’ Williams, and drummer Kevin Gritton formed adorable in 1990. They recorded their debut single, “Sunshine smile”, the following year. It received positive reviews in the music press but the kicker is, it was never released to the buying public. At least, not that version. After Alan McGee signed them to Creation Records in 1992, the song was re-recorded and Adorable finally released this amazing track that we now know and love. Unfortunately for all involved, it was just a couple of years too late.

Adorable likely only managed two albums and four years of existence because the world had already moved on from the noise pop and shoegaze scenes to which they were pigeonholed. Their singles did well enough. In fact, a couple of them, this one included, managed to travel the radio waves across the ocean to get some play in North America. Their debut album, “Against perfection”, was released in 1993 and climbed into the album charts in their native UK but only just barely. When it was released on this side of the ocean, they tacked on the two non-album singles that had been released beforehand. And so when I found a copy of it in the used CD bins, a handful of years later, “Sunshine smile” was the opening track on the playlist of the compact disc I brought home with me to learn and love.*

This song is a great introduction to a band that sadly never really got the due they deserved. “Sunshine smile” starts all chiming and jangly while frontman, Pete Fijalkowski waxes poetic about his subject’s smile. Then, it gets all noisy, guitars move to crunchy and then, seamlessly back to reverberating chimes. The bridge gets all quiet with some taps at the cymbals and Pete goes quiet, too (“how does it feel to feel?”) and the feeling explodes and it all races to a crashing crescendo. It’s got Creation all over it.

And now that I am writing about this song and listening to it over and over, I am kicking myself for not thinking to include it in my Valentine’s Day playlist post last month. It’s quite lovely.

*Sadly, this song was left off the playlist again when Music on Vinyl pressed it to vinyl for a special 25th anniversary edition a couple of years ago but I bought it nonetheless.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.

Best tunes of 1992: #18 Morrissey “Certain people I know”

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You may have noticed that I’m on a bit of a Smiths bender here, running through my “Complete” box set, one piece at a time, in my weekend ‘Vinyl love’ series. And if you did notice, you might be thinking that I’m a bit of a fanatic of the band, which, of course, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking. However, things didn’t start out that way. I actually came to them late. And it was long after I was fan of Morrissey’s solo material.

Back when I was in the dog days of high school, my friend John fed my suddenly voracious appetite for new music by getting me into bands like Depeche Mode, The Housemartins, and The Cure. He would loan me a handful of compact discs at a time and I would record the ones I enjoyed before returning them. A couple early Morrissey albums came to me in this way but he would never allow any of his Smiths discs to leave his possession. I later learned while living him with him during my last few years of university that this was because he was constantly playing them, ad nauseum, which further delayed my ability to form an appreciation of their music.

Morrissey’s third solo album, “Your arsenal”, was my gateway to his music, being, first, the latest of his works at the time, and second, being that it was a change in direction towards a more rock edge, likely appealed to my transforming tastes. Morrissey had formed a new backing band for this album and together, they infused some glam and rockabilly sensibilities to the work. Track number five, “Certain people I know”, our song of today, for instance, has that twangy slide guitar and swinging beat, a comfy bed that surprisingly feels tailor-made for Morrissey’s warbling vocals. And there he is flirtatiously playing upon words, sneaking a side-long and knowing glance, and dancing across the stage with abandon. He’s taking a cue from his heroes and other certain people he knows and having a blast while doing it.

“They look at danger and they laugh their heads off.”

I once bought a T-shirt with that very line emblazoned on the back. It was on a solo trip to the big city with birthday money burning a hole in my pocket. I had gotten the lowdown from friends on where to look for eight-hole Doctor Martens on Yonge Street and took the GO train in, listening to “Your arsenal” on my Walkman all the way to T-dot. After purchasing the boots, I happened into a store selling what I’m pretty sure now were bootlegged concert Tees and came out with a black one with “Your arsenal” album cover art on the front and said lyric on the back. I wore it countless times over the following months, that is, until it fell into the wrong laundry wash load and was shrunk a couple sizes too small. I ended up giving it to that same friend, John, who introduced me to Morrissey in the first place.

“I use the cue and then I hand it on to you.”

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.

Best tunes of 1992: #19 New Fast Automatic Daffodils “Stockholm”

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Near the very end of 1994, a bunch of my high school friends and I converged upon the city of Waterloo, Ontario, where our friend Tim was attending university. He was renting half of a house with a couple of friends he had met at school and they had planned for a New Year’s Eve party from which seemingly no one would be turned away. Some of my friends arrived for just the one night but I was amongst a handful that made a whole weekend out of it. We arrived a few days in advance and spent a few days warming up the apartment and our livers, visiting local watering hole, Phil’s Grandson’s Place, playing video games, listening to tunes, and having a lot of laughs. The New Year’s Eve party was epic and one from which I took many days to recover. But that’s a tale for another day.

One of Tim’s two roommates at that time was Mark, whom I’ve since met and with whom I’ve become quite good friends over the years. However, I didn’t meet him that weekend. (He didn’t make it back from St. Catharines in time, due to a miscommunication with the other roommate, Terry.) Instead, I met his CD collection and his stereo, with both of whom I immediately became enamoured. The day after arriving at the house, I made sure to find an establishment from which to purchase some blank cassette tapes so that I could bring home some pieces of Mark’s collection.

One of the albums I recorded from the grand selection on Mark’s CD shelves was “Body exit mind”, the second album by Manchester’s New Fast Automatic Daffodils. I had heard the second single from the album, “Stockholm”, many times over on Toronto’s alt-rock radio station, EDGE 102.1, and had recorded the music video to one of my by now multiple video cassettes filled with music videos, but had never seen any of the band’s music out in the shops. The high quality recording I was able to make of the album spent lots of time in my tape deck in the early weeks and months of 1995, with this particular track getting the multiple rewind and re-play treatment.

For a band so short-lived, the New FADs had a sound that was all their own and produced a hell of track here that made an indelible impression upon me. Not quite Madchester baggy and not quite shoegaze or noise rock, “Stockholm” was all of these. That jangly guitar hook does a freaky dance with a bongo drum and frontman Andy Spearpoint produces an iconic introductory lyric in that drawling sing speak he does. “Lately, lately, I find I rush.” And then he belts out, as much as one could call what he does belting: “Can’t piece together the sun in the sky or the spots on my face.” I don’t know what any of it means but the groove and the noise gets to me every time. It just feels so powerful. And when the gritty guitars chime in at the midway point, you just have to turn it up and close your eyes.

I’ve since thanked Mark many times over for the use of his CDs and stereo and he can only shake his head at the memory of missing that legendary bash.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.