One for Friday — That Petrol Emotion, “Groove Check”


Thirty years ago, in the autumn of 1988, That Petrol Emotion released their third album, End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues. The band John O’Neill developed after the breakup of his the Undertones, That Petrol Emotional had some of the spunk of their immediate ancestors with a deliberate attempt to convey something distinct about the Northern Irish lineage of O’Neill and some of his cohorts in the group. That Petrol Emotion’s lead singer was Steve Mack, an American who was discovered by the band in London. The varied perspectives of the members drove a sprightly eclecticism in the band’s music. Any given album by That Petrol Emotion could feel like it was trying to capture the totality of what was happening in college radio, track by divergent track.

On End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues, the stylistic wanderings of the band are even more pronounced, perhaps because O’Neill announced his intention to leave the group just as they were getting the recording process underway. Songwriting was a shared endeavor with the group — of the twelve tracks on the preceding album, Babble, O’Neill took a full or partial credit on four, and the other band members had similar spreads — but O’Neill’s foundational participation and personal prominence made it feel as if something was splintering. Creatively, that proved to be a wonderful thing. The album is wide-ranging and adventurous, infused with a spirit of taking one last taking one last big swing while toppling to the canvas.

End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues wasn’t an album that loomed particularly large for me among the many life-changers I discovered during my first year at the campus radio station. Still, it stuck with me enough that it was very present in my mind when I’d moved up enough in the ranks of our humble broadcast outlet a year later to help set the programming schedule. We decided Saturday night was perfect for a dance music show. In flailing around for a title, I suggested “Groove Check,” naming the program after a song right in the middle of the End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues track list. In truth, the song wasn’t all that well-suited to a showcase of cutting edge electronica, which only illustrates how unlearned I was about the types of music that would usually drive such a radio show. Still, it’s not a bad title for a radio show. And, these many years later, it’s still a dang good song.

Listen or download —> That Petrol Emotion, “Groove Check”

(Disclaimer: I believe End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues is currently out of print 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 shop. There are streaming and digital download means to acquire it, but I have little faith any commerce generated by that approach goes to worthy recipients. Although I believe the legal principle of fair use applies here, I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this 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.)

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