Sunday, February 08, 2004

 
Most Fountains of Wayne songs can ultimately be traced to other, more interesting, sources...one good example of this is No Better Place. The little guitar-based riff that starts about five seconds into that song (and repeats after each "no better place") is from Ultra Vivid Scene's Portion of Delight, a great song by a great band who deserved more attention than they got. (Kurt Ralske, who basically was Ultra Vivid Scene, produced Adam Schlesinger's "grown-up" band, Ivy, way back when.)

Ultra Vivid Scene are pretty well documented on the internet, often in a great overlooked band sense. They were on the 4AD label which has very thorough discography pages, and their used CDs tend to be fairly cheap, so if you're intrigued it shouldn't take much effort to fill in any blanks. It's much harder to get information about Kurt Ralske's previous band, Crash (the Allmusic entry is particularly un-useful).

Crash mostly featured songs written by lead singer (now deceased) Mark Dumais. They put out a few singles and one album called I Feel Fine. It's a frustrating record...mediocre production and often-off-key singing take a toll on some pretty good songwriting. Side one of the record is very Smiths influenced and sounds like something that might have appeared on the Sarah label (like, say, the Orchids but less polished). From the sound of things, though, someone bought a copy of Psychocandy right before they recorded side two. The first track (also the only one to feature a Ralske songwriting credit) is probably the best on the record. It's called I Feel Fine, and features Linda Smith on backing vocals, as well as a very Ultra Vivid Scene-sounding guitar break.

One Dumais-written Crash song appeared on an Ultra Vivid Scene b-side. It's called Don't Look Now, and it makes me wish that someone would go back and cover other Crash numbers. To the best of my knowledge, the only other band to do this is the Magnetic Fields-related Moth Wranglers who have an interesting version of the same song on their album Never Mind the Context.

Following Crash, Mark Dumais had a band called Tangerine who put out a CD and a single, that I know of, on the Creation label. I haven't heard this yet, but I have to admit that I'm curious.



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