Best tunes of 1992: #6 Spiritualized “Run”

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Did you ever discover a band in their very early days with one particular song, a song that you loved so much but then never really managed to find out anything out about them until much later? And by much later, I really mean just a handful of years later when this same band has released an album so mind-blowing that they are instantly a favourite band. And did you then think to yourself “I’m sure I know this band” and go back in your mixed tapes and rediscover that ‘one’ song all over again?

If your answer is ‘no’, you might be too young to remember a time before the internet and Google and Wikipedia, when the discovery of music came by chance, close friends, and hours of listening to alternative and college radio, while poring over music mags and fanzines.

If your answer is ‘yes’, I’ll happily say: “Me too”. Perhaps a few times over.

Two examples of this phenomenon that I always have readily available is (The) Verve and their early single “Slide away” and of course, Spiritualized with “Run”. It wasn’t until 1997 that I really ‘discovered’ both of these bands. Spiritualized’s “Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space” was my favourite album that year (“Urban hymns” was very, very close second) and it only took a bit of pre-internet research for me to discover that it was their third record. The hunt for the two previous ones at the CD shops started immediately.

Spiritualized was formed from the ashes of Spaceman 3 when Jason “Spaceman” Pierce acrimoniously split with the other creative force of that band, Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember. The first iteration of Spiritualized was basically Spaceman 3 without Kember but with a few replacements, most notably, Pierce’s then girlfriend, Kate Radley, a distinct band began to rise out of the ether. The sound of their first releases also didn’t stray too far from the tried and true Spaceman 3 sound. Pierce would really hit his stride with that aforementioned 1997 album but their first two albums are very excellent as well.

“Run” was originally released as a single in 1991 but was included on their debut album, “Lazer guided melodies”, the following year and was when I first heard it. The album’s twelve songs are presented as four colour-coded suites and “Run” leads off the ‘Green’ suite, which appeared on the second side of the first disc. Part of the songwriting credits are attributed to J.J. Cale and there’s more than just a subtle wink and hesitant nod to The Velvet Underground here. You know the track I mean. Listening to it, “Run” has got a bass line that rumbles and thumps down, down, down into the depths of your heart. The drums just don’t quit, a droning dream, a brilliant epiphany, loops of ecstasy and rip-roaring guitars. It sounds like a high from which no one should tumble. Yeah. This is how addictions get started. Check it out.

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

Best tunes of 2002: #14 The Polyphonic Spree “Light & day / Reach for the sun”

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The Polyphonic Spree has already appeared twice on these pages: once for their cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium” for my ‘100 best covers’ series and for the second time, this very song was included on the playlist I created from bands I’ve seen as opening acts. In both of those posts, I wrote about how I discovered the band because of their opening spot on David Bowie’s “Reality” tour so I won’t bother rehashing that tale. Instead, I just want to say a few words about a great film called “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.)

If you haven’t seen it, the film is a weird, wonderful, and truly beautiful story about love, starring Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey. It was directed by Michel Gondry and the screenplay was written by Charlie Kaufman so that might give an inkling of you might be in for, should you decide to watch it. (And if you do, I’ll try not to spoil it for you with any of the following words.) It’s a film told out of sequence and through the use of memories (and lack thereof) in Jim Carrey’s character’s head. He has just recently broken off a two year relationship with Winslet’s character, who has taken the drastic next step of erasing him from her memories. In a vengeful fit, he decides to do the same. What we see in the film is this very process and posits answers to questions like: what happens when he decides he doesn’t want to forget her anymore? What happens should these two meet up with each other after they have both had this process done? Is the love we feel for another just a culmination of the memories and images we have of the other person or is it something bigger, something more innate, more ingrained in our natural fabric?

I originally watched this film while living in a basement apartment in Vanier with my wife. I think it was likely a few months after the release date early in 2004 because I remember getting a copy of the DVD from the Ottawa Public Library. I watched it by myself and then convinced Victoria to watch it with me a few days later. We both loved it, of course, though I was probably slightly more enamoured with it. I’ve since seen parts of it on television and whenever I do, I linger on the channel if I have the time and just appreciate the ingenuity of how the story is told. Just last week, I rewatched the whole film again when I saw that this post was on deck for me to write.

And in case you’re wondering why all the talk of the film, this song, “Light & day / Reach for the sun”, (as well as another of the group’s tracks) is on the soundtrack for “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”, though I never did place it within the film itself. (Let me know if you are able to do so.) It originally appeared on The Polyphonic Spree’s debut album, “The beginning stages of…”, and was released as a single the following year, along with its original video. The video was redone (see below) when the song was included on the soundtrack and the band began to pick up more steam. It is just as quirky as the film and the gigantic, cult-like band itself and features scenes from the film with superimposed mouths singing words of the song.

Have a look and let some sunshine in on your life.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.