College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 3

3 new tale

3. Love and Rockets, “No New Tale to Tell”

“This was our ‘getting it together in the countryside’ acoustic album,” David J wrote on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Earth, Sun, Moon, the 1987 release from Love and Rockets.

The third album from the English trio that emerged from the collapse of goth icons Bauhaus, Earth, Sun, Moon was a deliberate attempt to move away from the jagged, buzzy music found on their prior album, Express. That was partially inspired by a desire to keep the audience guessing, but at least some of the band members were willing to concede it was also a matter of getting better at their jobs.

“The songs are more like crafted songs, whereas on the other albums you’ve got chunks of noise,” said David J, at the time.

A couple of years later, David J would go even further in assessing the earlier material, considering it within the framework of withering appraisals of the band’s music in the U.K. press.

“I must say, I think a lot of criticism aimed at us in the past was more than valid,” he said.

It was one of David J’s contributions that delivered a major commercial breakthrough for Love and Rockets. “No New Tale to Tell,” released as the second single from Earth, Sun, Moon, became a MTV staple and found a modest but noticeable place on the U.S. charts.

The inevitable music video had several striking details, including a cameo appearance by the Bubblemen, a sort of performance art band Love and Rockets occasionally masqueraded as, but years down the road, David J noted that one participant in the video shoot was especially memorable. The song included a flute solo at the midpoint, and someone alit upon the idea of giving a pan flute to a monkey and making it appear as if the furry little fellow was delivering the showcase moment. In order to get the monkey to position his mouth convincingly around the instrument, the trainer placed peanuts inside the pipes.

“Worked out pretty well,” David J recalled. “But when the little bugger wasn’t trying to get at the peanuts, he was wanking. Endlessly. For hours. Hours and hours. And staring at us. It was quite impressive, actually! And a little terrifying. No one wanted to go near the filthy thing.”

The individual members of Love and Rockets have made it clear that there’s no chance of any further reunions of the band, which means no more live performances of this college radio staple. But, if you play your cards right, David J just might come and play it in your living room.

 

As we go along, I’ll build a YouTube playlist of all the songs in the countdown.

The hyperlinks associated with each numeric entry lead directly to the individual song on the playlist. All images nicked from Discogs.

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