Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Extra: Eurotrash Girl

Cracker: Eurotrash Girl

If you purchased Cracker’s 1993 CD Kerosene Hat and looked at the track listing on the back, you would see 12 songs listed (including track 12, a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Loser”), followed by a statement that 13 & 14 were “No Songs,” and number 15 was a :40 track called “Hi-Desert Biker Meth Lab." But if you put the disc into your CD player (I’m sure this sounds to some readers like, “if you put the wax cylinder onto your phonograph…), it registered 99 tracks. Hmmmm.

Now, the first 12 songs on Kerosene Hat are, for the most part, excellent—it really is a fine album, by a band that put out a bunch of good ones. So, even after “Loser” was over, you probably felt pretty good about your purchase. But you needed to hear "Hi-Desert Biker Meth Lab," so you let it run. And frankly, that “song” is just a bunch of random sound. So what about tracks 16-99? Let it run, right?

17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24…nothing…nothing....nothing…60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68……hey, it’s an extra song (at 69, designed to get a laugh from all teenage boys, and teenage boys at heart, or, as we call them, most men)! And it turns out to be a good one, “Eurotrash Girl.” An 8 minutes plus wistful travelogue of misfortune experienced by the singer as he searched the world over (actually, it seems, just Europe), for a “Eurotrash Girl.” I understand that the song was a popular part of Cracker’s live show, and it in many ways typifies their music—a somewhat skewed Americana sound with clever/funny lyrics and a catchy chorus. I’d note that at the time I first heard the song, back in 1993, my daughter was not quite born yet, and now she lives in Barcelona. She has no car, so hasn’t suffered the same fate as the singer, who had his car broken into, but she has had her wallet and phone stolen a few times.

Now, I’m sure that you are asking yourself, OK, Mr. J. David, that’s track 69 (yuk, yuk), but there are 99 on the CD. What gives?

More extra music. Track 88 is “I Ride My Bike,” a perfectly fine song, and the last song is a demo/outtake of the title track.

Cracker guitarist Johnny Hickman explained how and why they put this extra music on the disc, and in such an unusual way:

The story behind that was at that time we had a lot of songs. We’d been playing “Eurotrash Girl” live for awhile and fans were really reacting to it. There were even a few radio stations playing live bootlegs of it. The word got out amongst the fans, “Hey, check out “Eurotrash Girl.” They were talking about it and it developed its own bit of momentum. We told our record company, Virgin Records at the time, we gotta put this one on here too. They said, “But your record is already too long. People only have so much of an attention span. Save it for the next one. Blah blah blah.” We just snuck it on there anyway. We went to the mastering lab and just put that song and “I Ride My Bike” on there. 

[Virgin] had no idea. We just went in and put it on anyway. We just snuck in the tape and said, “Just put it deep in there.” It was [producer] Don [Smith]’s idea to make it track 69 with his perverted sense of humor, which was fine with us. It was frustrating to some people with the song because they had things on shuffle. We basically just gave them another song. You only get paid for so many songs. We just said, “Well, the fans obviously like this one. We’re just going to put it on there.” So we did. 

Apparently, it also helped them catch bootleggers, who manufactured discs without the extra songs.

In the spirit of extra, here’s some more information—the album title, Kerosene Hat, refers to a hat that singer David Lowery wore when he bought kerosene for the heater in the crappy house in Richmond, VA where they were living while recording demos.

And here’s a bonus track—Son Volt’s “Medicine Hat,” because I always think of that song when I think of Kerosene Hat, and because it is also a good song from the 1990s.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

leftovers: wine: spill the wine

purchase [Eric Burdon - Spill The Wine]

I believe it was Darius who once noted that even a short post was better than none. I'm going to add "better late than never" to his remark. We've moved on to our next theme, but since it hasn't yet been touched, it looks like I might get away with this cheat.

<Spill the Wine> is a classic - first published by Eric Burdon and the Animals -  no wait ... Eric Burdon and War.

The conceit of <spilling wine> is neither new nor unique to this song nor The Animals (has something to do with the properties of wine itself perhaps?)

But this song is a narrative that might best be relegated to the frame of mind of some of us who came of age in the early 70s, even if it is a classic example of that compus mentus, with lyrics like:
just a dream/all in my head..
mountain kings and long-haired leaping gnomes

above, the same by The Isley Brothers