Friday, February 1, 2013

My 90's Flashback: I Don't Know by Too Much Joy

 My 90's flashback week has come to a close, and I've decided to end it with one of my favorite bands of the 1990's, Too Much Joy. The song selected for today is 'I Don't Know' which is featured on their 1992 album Mutiny.

Too Much Joy was a band from New York that released some great alternative rock in the late 80's to the late 90's. Their sound was influenced by 1970's power pop and punk music, especially The Clash. Too Much Joy's lyrics are filled with the dark and witty kind of humor you would find from the minds of the smart ass kids that sit in the back row of a college classroom.

Wittenberg University's campus radio station is WUSO and I was a volunteer disc jockey there from 1989 to 1991. I didn't attend Wittenberg University, but the station was desperate for volunteers during the summer that they agreed to let me, a high school student, have my own show. My goal was to get a classic rock show. The station manager from 1989 to 1990 said I needed a FCC license and I had to promise not to play any obscene gangsta rap songs.That sounded easy and I was excited that I would have a radio station all to myself for three to four hours to play anything I wanted.

When I stopped by WUSO for my first show, I found out there were more rules. Every hour, I had to play songs from CDs or records that were labeled for heavy, medium, and light rotation. I could play my own songs after I met the hourly rotation requirements. I had to do multiple station identifications and play three to five public service announcements per hour. I had to do one to two campus announcements per hour. I had to keep a log of songs I played, plus I had to track the public service and campus announcements. Talk about bait and switch.

I didn't like the fact that I had to play "weird college music" that was on the rotation list because I wanted to play classic rock like Skynyrd and Bad Company. My goal was to find songs by artists that were under the two and a half minute mark so I could get my music into the rotation. It was devious, but they didn't give me specific songs to play.

A total spaz named Steve was responsible for training me before my first show. He had a saliva problem that led to me dodging bits of spit as he spoke about working at WUSO. Steve asked if I could play a song for him when I opened the show. I agreed and he handed me an album from a band called Too Much Joy. It was a single for their song 'That's A Lie', and someone had written on the album sleeve "THIS IS AWESOME!".

I was pissed that I was going to play some goofy ass college rock song. He showed me how to properly cue a record for radio, and I gave 'That's A Lie' a spin. My dislike of college rock began to slowly melt away as the song played. I had no idea it was a cover of a LL Cool J song, but it was fantastic. I've included the song below. It's awesome and LL Cool J appears in the video.

Thanks for opening my eyes, spittin' Steve. I was still a classic rock disciple, but I was introduced to Too Much Joy and many other cool college rock acts like The Lemonheads and The Church.

After my time at WUSO was up, I enrolled at Wright State University. Their station was WWSU, and I was able to get a show as a freshman. It was a Saturday afternoon show, and it was required that I dedicate ten minutes every hour to two clowns who had to give sports scores. Apparently, those guys were not aware of the fact that everyone in the area turned on the TV or tuned into a major sports radio channel to get college football updates.

WWSU had the rotation rule like WUSO, but I had developed a bigger love for college music. I was beyond thrilled when I saw a new album by Too Much Joy titled Mutiny. I played the hell out of 'Donna Everywhere' and decided to go out and buy the album.

Mutiny is one of those college rock albums that should have been massively popular. From start to finish Mutiny is a solid piece of power pop influenced perfection.'Donna Everywhere' is a fun song and the video has Penn and Teller. Too Much Joy brings a strange kind of beauty to Mutiny with 'Sort of Haunted House', a interesting tale of love and murder. I was amazed to find this cool cover by Brown University's acapella group.

My song selection for today is 'I Don't Know'. I selected this song because it contains one of my favorite lines, "I'm ahead of my time, but only by a week". This is the kind of great rock and roll music you get from Too Much Joy. I hope you enjoy this selection embedded below and have a great weekend.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter.

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