Inadvertently, this is the second time in the last three weeks that I’m featuring a band that Atlantic Records simply didn’t know how to handle. Map of the World was a band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, signed by the major label in the late nineteen-eighties, a time when A&R men roamed college towns with fevered urgency, so sure that the next R.E.M. was lurking out there somewhere. The group–headed up by the sibling team of Khalid and Sophia Hanifim–had exactly one release for the label, a 1989 EP entitled An Inch Equals a Thousand Miles. When it wasn’t embraced automatically by college radio, Atlantic gave up on the band, and it appears that was the effective end of its existence as an ongoing concern. By some accounts, there’s even an unreleased full-length album moldering somewhere in Atlantic’s vault. The Hanifims wound up in other bands that received similarly tepid celebration.
Oddly, I think one of the reasons I had such affection for this release during my college tenure was because of the fleeting nature of the band’s output. The stacks were littered with groups that only managed to eke out one LP, but EPs were rarer among our collection. Most of those that we had were from the bigger bands, providing some collection of outtakes or live tracks to help keep fickle college programmers invested in the group while they toiled away at a proper release. It seemed like there were far fewer EPs that represented the total output of the band, especially on a major label. It added to the mystery of this band (basically every detail shared here is information I didn’t have back when the only thing the office computer had cause to be connected to was the electrical outlet) and gave the songs a slightly wistful sense of could-have-been.
There was another reason An Inch Equals a Thousand Miles appealed to me. It was one of those releases, highly treasured by me when I was regularly filling radio shifts, that sounded equally good no matter where the needle was dropped. It may not have hand a single stand-out song (which might be part of what flummoxed the label execs), but there was also no way to go wrong. Even now, selecting a song to share was like making an impossible choice among five equals. So let’s just drop the needle.
Listen or download –> Map of the World, “I Fight for My Life”
(Disclaimer: Clearly, Atlantic was disgruntled about even putting this humble little release into print once, so it’s definitely not available now. That’s what it looks like to me anyway. Therefore, this track is shared here with the understanding the it can’t be purchased in any way that compensates both the band and the proprietor of your favorite local, independently-owned record store. I don’t think you can purchase it in a way that compensates the label either, but I don’t actually care about them. Regardless, I will gladly remove the track from the interwebs if I’m contacted by someone with due authority to request its removal and that individual or entity is making such a request.)