As is often the case when Friday comes around this space, it’s time for another tale of the 90FM “C Stacks.” When I arrived at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, the greater music library was divided into three sections, the bands placed in them sorted roughly by notoriety: the A,B and C Stacks. Obviously the C Stacks was where the most obscure music went to live out its days at the radio station, until some college kid a generation later pulled it out, muttered, “What the hell is this?” and relegated it to the deep storage in the basement. I always took a special point of pride in finding something especially wonderful in there, and would return to favorite albums placed in there with added affection.
Although “favorite” is probably overstating it. Yes, there were some albums placed there that I counted (and still count) among the most treasured in my collection, but just as often I found myself simply sampling the familiar comfort food of the section, those albums that I remembered as sturdy and enjoyable when they originally passed through the new music rotation. I wasn’t trying to convince the listenership that there was a neglected classic they just had to know as much as I was giving a nice, agreeable record another moment or two on our modest airwaves. It was that sort of motivation that led me to periodically revisit the self-titled debut from Cruel Story of Youth.
Released on Columbia records in 1989, the sole album from the New York quartet was in some ways a perfect product of that oddball musical decade. It was equal parts earnest and earthy, in the manner that made college radio programmers swoon, but it was also glossed up in a sheen of studio production that was the ugly side effect of the squishy hair metal that dominated MTV request shows at the time. Surely record execs looked at this band as an artist potentially equipped to bridge the aesthetic divide between Green and Hysteria, making themselves a kajillion dollars when every last twenty-year-old in the country bought the resulting record. Instead, the release made only minor headway on the album rock radio charts, then was almost immediately forgotten, with the band never apparently releasing another scrap of music and only a ghostly presence on the websites hyper-obsessed with documenting every last artifact that could conceivable produce music with the help of a spindle, a rotating circular surface and a needle.
Hell, I’m sure it’s even long gone from the 90FM C Stacks. Luckily, that doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t go ahead and play a track off of it, albeit in a virtual manner. It will help fill out any set nicely.
Listen or download –> Cruel Story of Youth, “You’re What You Want to Be”
(Disclaimer: I’m fairly certain that Cruel Story of Youth is well out-of-print, and even if it were purchasable in any way, shape or form, I’m even more convinced that Sony’s legal orchestrations would prevent any compensation from reaching the pockets of the artists anyway. Surely, there’s something else that could be purchased from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in the near future. Regardless, I mean no harm in sharing this track, and will gladly and promptly remove it should I be contacted by an individual or entity making such a request. I’d prefer is that person is duly authorized under current copyright law to make such a request, but I guess I’d also take it down if some person agitated for a general reason reached out to me about it. Seriously, I’m not that invested in it staying here.)