Anyone who’s ever worked at a record store that buys and sells used CDs can tell you what titles they see over and over again.Â Jagged Little Pill, Cracked Rear View, the entire Cranberries catalog … these are discs that clog the bins coast to coast, as music buyers buy, absorb, and ultimately get sick of these huge mega-hits.Â The second type of disc you see a lot is the one-hit wonder album – Vanilla Ice’s To The Extreme or today’s featured artist’s album, Chumbawamba’s Tubthumper.
A loose collective of musicians who had been making music in the U.K. since the early ’80s, Chumbawamba had a number of indie releases under their belt before signing to EMI in 1997.Â Tubthumper, their major label debut, was their 7th overall (or so, depending on whether you count live sets or offshoots), so calling them a one-hit wonder, while technically correct in the States, seems a little unfair.Â But that one hit, “Tubthumping,” was a doozy, blasting out of radios and MTV for what seemed like an hourly basis.Â The single went Top 10 and it brought the album along with it, eventually selling over three million copies.Â Trouble is, most people who bought it listened to the hit and had little time for the other eleven songs.
That’s a bit of a shame since at least one other song on the album isn’t bad at all.Â It just happens to be the second single “Amnesia,” (download) a charging, horn-accented driving song that should be used as the theme music to some sports highlight show somewhere.Â While American radio seemed to embrace the single, sending it fairly high up the airplay chart, singles buyers were nonplussed and the song failed to chart on the Hot 100.Â Perhaps it was Alice Nutter’s, um, uncertain vocal that kept it from being a hit.Â While a little Nutter went a long way as an accent on “Tubthumping,” perhaps a lotta Nutter was too much.Â Or maybe it was the tango break in the middle of the dance/rock hybrid that threw people off.
Mainstream Rock: The Tubes, “She’s a Beauty” (1983)
Michael: I like this song a lot. I like “White Punks on Dope” even better. I still remain confused that the same band is responsible for both songs.
Zack: I can’t help but find the opening hook to be pretty interesting, but it doesn’t quite sustain itself beyond that. It’s certainly not bad, and Fee Waybill’s channeling of Roger Daltrey makes it interesting, but by the end I find myself just slightly on the positive side of indifference.
Jon: I always used to parse the lyrics of this song the way you parse a Clinton speech. I could never figure out the exact situation Fee was describing here, and the video didn’t help. If the pretty girl is “behind the glass,” how do you get to “talk to” her? If we’re objectifying the poor girl who’s being kept behind the glass, what’s the point in talking to her anyway? And why would you bother to “fall in love”? Of course, at age 17 I had no first-hand understanding of strip clubs, but Fee sure seemed to be setting up a complicated scenario for a place where I was pretty sure you just went to watch women take their clothes off. Call me naive. Really, go ahead.
David: Being of an impressionable age when MTV first hit, I was unsurprisingly a big fan of the Tubes, thanks to MTV’s near-nonstop playing of “Talk to Ya Later,” “Prime Time,” and “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore.” By the time “She’s a Beauty” dropped, it could have been any old piece of nonsense — and as it turns out, it was — and I would have rubber-stamped it. But shhhhhh … I was a much bigger fan of “Out of the Business.”
Will: Given that I didn’t know the first thing about music in 1983, let alone the Tubes, this was another case where MTV was directly responsible for my introduction to both a song and the band who sang it in one fell swoop. I still think this video’s pretty creepy, but damn, what a chorus.
Mike: Fantastic hook. Sad to say, before I saw the video, that was all I remembered of “She’s a Beauty.” Very strange (but entertaining) video. And who the hell thought Fee Waybill would be a good stage name?