At 90FM we used to have these stretches of programming that we called, admittedly without much ingenuity, Free Music Weeks. Making one of these happen started with us pulling something that was especially tricky for a little station like ours. We needed to convince a label to give us fifteen copies of a new release. That was our minimum for running a Free Music Week, the number of freebies we decided were needed to make it feel like the programming week was suitably inundated with one particular new album. Since our protocol at the time involved the DJ playing a song off of any album as they gave it away, we could also be assured that fifteen copies would mean the album in question was almost guaranteed to appear at the top of our weekly chart, a significant carrot for us to dangle in front of the labels that were perpetually reluctant to part with so much product.
We had some pretty good albums as the focus of a Free Music Week, including Material Issue’s sophomore effort, Destination Universe. The interesting marker of our audience’s collective interest in an album wasn’t how briskly the phones rang when it was time for a giveaway, but how quickly the prize was picked up from our studio. We insisted winners come down to the station to claim the spoils of their quick-dialing victory, and they had around a month to do so. One of the albums I recall going unretrieved in sizable numbers was Kingmaker’s Eat Yourself Whole.
It’s too bad, because the debut from the British band was actually a nice little record. It was punchy and catchy, built out of songs that were nicely suited for blasting out of an open car window on a warm summer day. That’s certainly the case on the lead single from the album, which was really the band’s only taste of any sort of chart success. If 90M hadn’t also had a “no repeat” policy during the days at the time, every DJ giving away the album would probably have accompanied the contest with a fresh airing of “Really Scrape the Sky.” Actually, that song along may have encouraged more people to pick up their prize, now that I think of it.
(Disclaimer: To be honest, I didn’t make my usual effort to see if the song in question is actually available for purchase. Since Kingmaker never got much traction beyond the one song, and that was in 1991, I just operated under the assumption that the record is out of print. Maybe that’s wrong. Maybe it’s been available for ages. Maybe it’s the beneficiary of some sort of nineteenth anniversary deluxe reissue with bonus tracks and a commemorative booklet. If so, or really if anyone with due authority to make such a request wants it removed for any reason, I will gladly and promptly see to it that it is no longer available for free sampling at this corner of cyberspace.)