I feel like I have a pretty strong memory when it comes to the music that landed at my college radio station during my tenure there, especially the first year or two. There have been a few hundred of these “One for Friday” posts by now, for example, and a whole mess of them include songs that were released between 1988 and 1990. Despite my proclivity for reminiscence in this digital space, I don’t live in the past. But I sure do like to listen to music from back then.
My self-congratulatory assurance of my own exhaustive expertise on the music library of 90FM during a certain era took quite a hit several weeks back, when I shared one of the station’s Top 35 lists from the fall of 1989, the beginning of my second academic year at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. This is when I had the most specific and clear responsibilities related to the selection, review, and tracking of new music. Still, for each of the major enduring favorites that appeared on the list in question, there was another album which stirred no recollection. That included a couple of releases that settled in fairly high on the list, such as the self-titled debut from Flies on Fire, which held down the #12 position, just behind Big Audio Dynamite and Hoodoo Gurus.
The Los Angeles band was signed to the faltering major label Atco Records (within a couple of years, Atco would merge with another Atlantic Records subsidiary before disappearing altogether, at least for a time) and surely got a decent push on college radio. They may have gotten even more aggressive promotion with straight rock stations. Listening to them now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the label felt they had a shot at the same unexpected success the Georgia Satellites enjoyed in the mid-eighties. There was a fleeting stretch when earthy rock ‘n’ roll was trending, identified chronologically as the span when John Mellencamp could receive saturation airplay on MTV.
I think Flies on Fire even skews close to the distinctive sounds of Indiana’s favorite rockin’ son at times, especially on the track “Baptize Me Over Elvis Presley’s Grave.” As I noted when I shared the bygone Top 35 list, I’ve little doubt I played that song back in the fall of 1989. I had no resistance to a title like that. Shame I can’t remember it. Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter if the memory eludes me. Thanks the miracles of the modern age, I can pull it up and listen to it anew. And, I have to admit, it sounds pretty good. No wonder we gave it some spins.
Listen or download –> Flies on Fire, “Baptize Me Over Elvis Presley’s Grave”
(Disclaimer: I believe Flies on Fire to be out of print and unavailable for purchase, at least as a physical item that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of said store and the original artist. Even though I mean to cause no fiscal harm to anyone, I will gladly and promptly remove this music file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)