5. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Brainbloodvolume
As happens from time to time in this crazy endeavor of mine, I find myself downright startled by the high placement of an album on the chart being scaled through. The U.K. band Ned’s Atomic Dustbin had a couple of enormous hits on 90Fm during my time there. The band released their debut album, God Fodder, in 1991, and the singles “Kill Your Television” and “Grey Cell Green” were as constant of a presence on our Central Wisconsin airwaves as station policy would allow. Their follow-up, Are You Normal?, also did well, though I don’t recall it being nearly as dominant for us, a funny wrinkle considering its lead single, “Not Sleeping Around,” was by far the band’s most successful in the U.S., topping the Billboard Modern Rock chart. That album was released in 1992. There was a long three year gap (a timeline that would be reasonable enough now, but seemed like an eon in the era when memories of R.E.M. and other modern rock acts in the nineteen-eighties putting out new records at roughly a yearly clip) before Ned’s Atomic Dustbin got around to crafting their third proper album, Brainbloodvolume. In that time, their jagged, roughly hewn pop was supplanted by the far more booming, aggressive grunge sound. They were bound to have a hard time cutting through the din.
That indifference from the alternative radio programmers was a little ironic, given that the label evidently thought Brainbloodvolume was likely to be a stateside breakthrough for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. Though the band had been arguable more successful in their native land, where their singles regularly jockeyed with more mainstream pop releases for chart position, Sony opted to release the album in the United States well before it landed in U.K. record shops. The most devoted fans were forced to purchase the latest from their countrymen as a pricey import, stirring up a certain amount of resentment and dampening sales. The lopsided distribution strategy helped develop an icy relationship between the band and the label, a situation that couldn’t have been helped when the anticipated adoration of grunge-fueled U.S. fans failed to materialize. On commercial radio, lead single “All I Ask of Myself is That I Hold Together” barely registered.
On at least one college station, though, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin were clearly as big as ever, outpacing seemingly more significant bands and acts on the year-end chart. I wonder what made it click. It seems like plenty of the material on the album is far more relaxed and gently tuneful than the gun-blazing songs that had captured their predecessors’ eager attention. Maybe that was part of the appeal. The drive for variety was one of things I appreciated most in college radio. As the overall scene was becoming monolithic, there likely would have been a shared instinct among the student deejays to break up the drone with something a little different, but also tinged with just enough fuzz to fit in well enough.
Brainbloodvolume was the last album for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. They officially disbanded less than a year after the album’s release. Of course, in the manner of any number of the left of of the dial stalwarts of the nineties, breaking up didn’t necessarily carry true finality with it. Reunions happen.
— An Introduction
— 90-88: The Falling Wallendas, Parasite, and A.M.
— 87-85: North Avenue Wake Up Call, Live!, and Life Begins at 40 Million
— 84 and 83: Wholesale Meats and Fishes and Orange
— 82-80: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, Fossil, and Electric Rock Music
— 79-77: Coast to Coast Motel, My Wild Life, and Life Model
— 76-74: Gag Me with a Spoon, Where I Wanna Be, and Ruby Vroom
— 73 and 72: Horsebreaker Star and Wild-Eyed and Ignorant
— 71 and 70: 500 Pounds and Jagged Little Pill
— 69-67: Whirligig, The Basketball Diaries, and On
— 66 and 65: Alice in Chains and Frogstomp
— 64 and 63: Happy Days and Exit the Dragon
— 62-60: Lucky Dumpling, Fight for Your Mind, and Short Bus
— 59-57: Good News from the Next World, Joe Dirt Car, and Tomorrow the Green Grass
— 56 and 55: …And Out Come the Wolves and Clueless
— 54-52: We Get There When We Do, Trace, and Twisted
— 51-49: Thrak, Stoney’s Extra Stout (Pig), and You Will Be You
— 48 and 47: Shamefaced and Here’s Where the Strings Come In
— 46 and 45: 13 Unlucky Numbers and Resident Alien
— 44-42: Elastica, Private Stock, and Death to Traitors
— 41-39: Optimistic Fool, Ben Folds Five, and Above
— 38-36: Collide, Cowboys and Aliens, and Batman Forever
— 35-33: Taking the World by Donkey, One Hot Minute, and Dog Eared Dream
— 32 and 31: Straight Freak Ticket and Besides
— 30-28: Sixteen Stone, Big Dumb Face Shoe Guy, and Cascade
— 27-25: Born to Quit, King, and Hate!
— 24 and 23: Sparkle and Fade and Brown Bag LP
— 22 and 21: University and Pummel
— 20 and 19: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Thread
— 18 and 17: Ball-Hog or Tugboat? and Rainbow Radio
— 16 and 15: Let Your Dim Light Shine and Day For Night
— 14 and 13: Tales from the Punchbowl and Sleepy Eyed
— 12 and 11: Post and Deluxe
— 10: Yes
— 9: To Bring You My Love
— 8: Garbage
— 7: 100% Fun
— 6: Only Everything