I’ve alluded to the following before: Being immersed in a college radio station is a little like living in an alternative cultural dimension. This is especially true back in the pre-internet era, where there wasn’t a towering wall of external music websites offering guidance about the vital music of the day. Except for a little prompting from certain publications, college programmers were basically on their own. The on-air staff elevated bands on the basis on their own taste and predilection. What the record sounded like mattered.
In my cultural universe, then, Will and the Bushmen delivered one of the surprise hit albums of 1989. The self-titled effort was the Alabama band’s debut with the upstart major label SBK Records. The lead single, “Blow Me Up,” completely won over my crew (and became a holiday staple for several years, thanks to the repeated chorus line “She’s better than, much better than Christmas”), but that song was hardly the end of our affection for the music of Will and the Bushmen. As I recall it, the album was played extensively, with several different cuts flaring up as favorites.
I still hang onto this album as a personal treasure, an artifact of the time when earnestness and earthiness were valued qualities in the music that filled out the corners of my life. The song “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” for example, is about as straightforward as the title implies, offering encouragement to anyone who needs to “get the sour grapes and the moldy bread out of your basket.” It had — and still has — precisely the right rejuvenating effect for me, serving as a battle cry of perseverance built upon a dandy hook. In my slightly fantastical memories of music in the world, that combination is the making of a smash hit.
Listen or download —> Will and the Bushmen, “It’s Gonna Be Alright”
(Disclaimer: Though I’m not certain, I believe Will and the Bushmen to be out of print, at least as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the original artist and the proprietor of said place of business. I offer that track here with that understanding, and mean no fiscal harm to deserving souls. Also, I mean for this be an encouragement to seek out more music from the artist in question, not a replacement for snapping up any record of theirs that you ever encounter. Although I believe my use of the material here qualifies and fair use, I know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this file from my little corner of digital world if asked to do so by any entity or individual with due authority to make such a request.)