One for Friday: Royal Crescent Mob, “5 More Minutes”

College rock in the nineteen-eighties was full of bands that provided a sonic echo of the jangly R.E.M. sound and the nineties was dominated by groups emulating the sludgy assault that was forged by Mudhoney, perfected by Nirvana and turned into a slicked up commodity by Pearl Jam. Those styles were so dominant that it’s easy to forget that there were other bands that were inspiring adherents, including a few fairly unlikely ones. Legend has it that a tour through the Midwest undertaken by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the mid-eighties is what led to the formation of the Columbus, Ohio band the Royal Crescent Mob. Certainly there are points on the records the band eventually released that practically sound like auditions to serve as understudies for Anthony, Flea and the boys.

What makes it a little strange is that this is all well before Red Hot Chili Peppers achieved multi-platinum sales figures and radio dominance. The Royal Crescent Mob wasn’t chasing the other band’s success, which was decidedly modest at the time. Something about the mix of funk, hard rock and little hints of rap just appealed to the trailing quartet. I think that earnestness carries through and makes the music they produced more worthy of notice. Hell, It’s possible that their major label debut, 1989’s Spin the World, was a better, more cohesive release that anything the notoriously haphazard Peppers ever created. Maybe it was saddled with a truly terrible album cover, but even that lapse in visual taste put them right in line with the band that inspired them.

The Royal Crescent Mob didn’t last, perhaps never truly escaping the shadow of their forerunners. Maybe the music world ultimately only had room for one Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s tempting to write their lack of success off to being one of many bands that was out of step just as alternative music turned into a commercial fascination and the scope of what was acceptable within the genre narrowed to a fine point scored with a murky power chord, but the band never really hit with the college kids before the Seattle invasion started. They’re just another one of those bands that crafted a few tight, fine songs in the limited window they were given, only to be forgotten about down the road. They left behind some fierce, bouncy gems, though. All anyone has to do is go hunting for them.

Royal Crescent Mob, “5 More Minutes”

(Disclaimer: I’m fairly certain that Spin the World is long out of print. When I most recently checked, it didn’t even seem to be available for digital purchase. If you can track down one of the band members–many of whom went on to fine careers in the other parts of the music industry, it seems–they may have a load of old cassettes in their garage they’d be willing to trade for money or, you know, chores around the house. The point is: I’m posting this here with the belief and understanding that the song is not available for purchase in a manner that will provide due compensation to the artist and the proprietor of your favorite local, independently-owned record store. Warner Bros. getting stiffed doesn’t really concern me. However, if that particular entertainment conglomerate, or anyone with similar authority over the song in question, contacts me to request or demand its removal, then remove it I shall.)

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