The Del Fuegos was one of the important band names I carried with me when I first started at my beloved college radio station in the fall of 1988. I’m not precisely sure how I’d heard of them. Since I don’t believe I’d actually heard a note of their music by that point in time, it was probably through some effusive praise printed in the pages of Rolling Stone, my deeply imperfect but still useful peephole through the fence that held me apart from the realm of better, bolder music than what was being played on local radio stations where I went to high school. The Del Fuegos definitely sound like the sort of left-of-the-dial band Jann Wenner’s publication was willing to champion back in the day: loud, bruising, tough, but still playing something that was recognizably grounded in the blues-derived garage rock so prominent when the magazine originally launched. The sad truth about the eighteen-year-old version of me is that if a band was safe enough for Rolling Stone, that meant it was also safe enough for me.
I may have brought anticipation over discovering a band with me as assuredly as if it was a physical object I carried in my backpack, but that doesn’t automatically mean the artists in question locked in as part of my dependable repertoire. I have almost no memory of every slipping a Del Fuegos record over the turntable spindle during my many shifts at the station (I find it remarkable, all these years later, how many records I do have very specific memories of playing). My nostalgia for the band more often manifests in happy appreciation of the way they were namechecked in the Juliana Hatfield 3 single “My Sister.” I actually wonder if we collectively defaulted to the Bodeans as our choice when it came to time to play a rootsy artist that spent time on Slash Records (we did follow a clock at the station, but it wasn’t quite that specific). They were Wisconsinites just like us, you see. On the odd occasion that a Del Fuegos song like “Don’t Run Wild” shuffles up on my iPod, it sounds like something I would have played with relentless vigor back then. Instead, it becomes a dispatch from phantom playlists of the past. I must admit, the radio shows that exist in that alternative history give my real ones a run for their money.
Listen or download –> The Del Fuegos, “Don’t Run Wild”
(Disclaimer: While some other Del Fuegos albums remain in print, it appears to me that Boston, Mass., home to this particular song, is not available as a physical item that can purchased from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in such a way that it duly compensates both the artist and the proprietor of said place of business. Thus, I am sharing it here with the belief and understanding that doing so will not impede fair commerce, but might pique someone’s interest in a foggily remembered band just enough that they’ll go out and order, say, Smoking in the Fields. I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd. Regardless, I recognize how current copyright law works, even if I don’t necessarily agree with certain elements of it, and I will therefore gladly remove the song from the interweb if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)