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Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Liar's Club-Drop Dead. (1994)

(Photographs by Steve McElrath; Design by Ben Thompson with Jayson Jarmon)
With songs referencing Fred Astaire, Holly Golightly, and Elvis (almost added "Twin Peaks" to the list, but actually that was pretty current at the time...and has indeed become very current again), The Liar's Club always seemed a bit before their time (even the name appears to have come from a 60's/70's game show). That's not necessarily a bad thing for a pop/ rock group of their ilk, but it is always a looming presence. Fortunately The Liar's Club don't spend much time pining over some "golden era gone by"; they spend their reverential energy on crafting pop hooks with the same care and attention to detail as their forefathers (Lennon, McCartney, Emmit Rhodes, Ray and Dave Davies...) and adding that distinctly 90's "tang". Unfortunately, as the Wikipedia article points out, these guys were from the Seattle area (Tacoma to be exact), and everybody knows what the Seattle zeitgeist was in the early 90's (and yes, it was frickin' awesome!)...and it wasn't this (frickin' awesome in a different way). Sometimes this "band against the world" ethos surfaces in subtle ways-perhaps most pointedly on the wonderful "Whatever..." which appears to poke fun at the hip "affected cynicism" of the time ("Whatever I say, whatever I do,  "whatever" is all I ever get from you..."). It skips along on the legs of a melody that would have sounded as good now as in 1967...or, for that matter, probably as good as it would have sounded at the time the first Ichthyostega pulled itself from the primeval seas and drew its first gasping breaths- easing itself forward on it's newly evolved forelimbs under the hot Devonian sun."Fred Astaire", "Triage", and "The Redundant Romantic Fool" are other can't miss moments.
There's also a sort of running joke underpinning the album's marketing-I pulled this from the Discogs page:
"The concept behind Drop Dead was simply: a band so desperate for commercial success - they faked their own deaths hoping to pique consumer interest.

The catalogue number (614) was taken from the Dewey Decimal classification for "Forensic medicine; incidence of injuries, wounds, disease; public preventive medicine"

And, as you can see, this joke carries through into the album's packaging and artwork. I particularly like the legal notice on the back of the jewel case: 

"WARNING: A curse be upon ye who would defile our memory or disturb our bones. 
Unauthorized duplication of this recording will be met with swift retribution from beyond the grave"

I should add that the group would not release another album until 2013, so those who had initially laughed at the whole "death joke" were probably getting a bit concerned.

Unfortunately this is the only (out of 4) Liar's Club album NOT on iTunes. I can't find much on Youtube either- but here's what I have unearthed:
"Triage" live on The Spud Goodman Show: 

"Cinnamon Smiles":

I cheated and got my copy online, but if you ever come across it at a used record shop I recommend-no, PLEAD- you pick it up. And of course, check out the albums that ARE available on iTunes (although this is their finest in my opinion).

(Art/Design credits same as above)

(Charlatan Record Cartel-CRC 614)

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