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SupadragKnoxville, Tennessee combo Superdrag’s 1996 major-label debut, Regretfully Yours, will always remind me of driving. Y’see, I was finishing up college at Cleveland State University, which was about a 40-minute drive from my place in suburban Elyria, Ohio. Not exactly a hotbed of culture, mind you. Luckily, Regretfully was about the perfect length for the one-way trip, so that final semester of school, I would use it as my driving music. By the time that last song hit, I knew it was time to start looking for parking (of course, I could play it all the way over again by the time I’d find a spot on a busy Wednesday).

I came across Superdrag the same way most of the alternative nation did, via the video for their first single, “Sucked Out,” (download) which got some pretty heavy airplay on the MTV Buzz Bin days. The Wikipedia page for Regretfully Yours says “Sucked Out” was about the record industry, and taking a listen to the lyrics, particularly the chorus of “who sucked out the feeling,” it’s tough to argue that assessment.

“Sucked Out” was cute for a while, but after quite a few listens the hoarse screaming on the chorus nearly crosses over into novelty territory. I much preferred the follow-up single, “Destination Ursa Major,” a tasty power-pop rocker with another nifty video to match:

My favorite track on Regretfully, though, has to be the album’s closer, “Rocket,” (download) with its bordering on simplistic lyrics and heavenly harmonies. I could be giving this song more credit than it deserves, simply because hearing it always filled me with relief that my commute was almost at an end.

The band’s debut did some pretty fair business, so when work began on the follow-up, titled Head Trip In Every Key, Elektra Records was hoping for another 40-minute blast of power-pop goodness.  What they got instead was a darker, more introspective set of songs focused more on the piano and orchestral instrumentation that the group’s debut power-trio blast.  While the lead single “Do The Vampire” (download) was fairly reminiscent of the group’s first disc, much of Head Trip delved into late Beatles territory, not a bad thing by any means, but tougher to get on the radio and MTV in Creed-lovin’ 1998.  Of course we know those “difficult” second albums tend to stick with us a little longer and pay off over time, as tracks like “Amphetamine,” (download) while not as instantly catchy as “Sucked Out,” have aged much better.

Sadly, Elektra was lacking that patience and Superdrag were cut loose to go the indie route for a few more releases before splitting, only to regroup last year.  The band continues to have a strong cult following (both Regretfully and Head Trip remain in print to this day), even spawning a tribute album.  But Superdrag will always have my gratitude simply for making a long, boring drive just a little more exciting.

“Sucked Out” peaked at #17 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart in 1996.

Get Superdrag music at Amazon or on Superdrag