The Groceries: Part of the New America
I was a college radio DJ at WPRB in Princeton, NJ during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and we enthusiastically supported a couple of local bands—Regressive Aid and The Groceries. Someday, I will try to post about Regressive Aid, who had a few members that went on to more well-known projects, but this post is about The Groceries, particularly, their song Part of the New America.
I liked The Groceries, and almost certainly played them on the air. Through the fog of history, I’m pretty sure that I saw them play live, at both an eating club on campus (Terrace?) and at the somewhat legendary City Gardens in Trenton. Based on some recent research, they are fondly remembered in the Central New Jersey area. They were a good band, with an interesting sound. My friend and former WPRB colleague Hal posted on his blog a few months ago—“The Groceries were musical soup. In today’s terms, boil the Barenaked Ladies, and drop in Bob Marley and flavor with Madness, and you get the taste.” That’s a pretty fair description, and I don’t think I can do better. To my knowledge, were never signed by any record label and I don’t think you can buy it anywhere. (Aside—after I graduated from college, I worked at a major record label for the summer, and worked with another kid my age who later became a serious player in the industry. I found a Groceries tape or record in a pile of submissions and asked him about them—he told me that the band had been trying to get signed for a while, but no one seemed interested.)
The song is a satire of the American materialistic culture that was being fostered by the Reagan administration, but the song also skewers liberals and the “politically correct”. I’d have to say that its message is still timely in the “Occupy” era, too. (Another aside—the lead singer of The Groceries was Richard Auguste Morse, who later moved to Haiti, has released music under the name RAM and bought the supposedly world-famous Hotel Oloffson—and in that role appeared in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.) It is a fun song, and if you look on the Internet, you can find an amusing video.