American Music Club: Classic or Dud?

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I've been listening to "San Francisco" all the time lately so the question just popped up...

Simone, Friday, 9 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Most definitely a classic, but not necessarily for San Francisco. The production issues, the more-problematic-than-usual internal tensions, and Eitzel's more-problematic-than-usual demeanor during those sesssions led to some big flaws. I haven't listened to it in a couple years, but I'd bet "It's Your Birthday" and a couple others would still hold up. There's a weird slickness in the production; it makes them sound like a rock band, which isn't exactly what they were about. Everclear does the most for me, followed by Mercury and Engine.

Andy, Friday, 9 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

All of 'California' - Classic. 'Western Sky', 'Firefly' 'Last Harbor', 'Pale Skinny Girl' - all great.

Unfortunately everything else - Dud. Particularly 'San Fran' and 'Mercury' - horribly produced, and the songs had gone by then.

Dr.C, Saturday, 10 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I appear to be the only guy who actually likes "San Francisco". Ok, SF is AMC at their most commercial and maybe adding the "slick" production was a conscious move to improve sales but hey, there are plenty of good songs anyway (even among the slick-produced ones). "Can you help me?", "wish the world away" are just a couple of examples... Everclear is their obvious masterwork, that much is sure but I love SF all the same.

Simone, Saturday, 10 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Classic: all of 'California' - absolute masterpiece. most of 'United Kingdom', although I think it only came out in the UK and it's definitely their bleakest album. Most of 'Everclear' too. As for the later albums, i would say that there are some really good songs (particularly on 'Mercury') but I never quite got into 'San Francisco'. Come to think of it I'm not quite sure where my copy is...

Jonathan, Saturday, 10 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

All I've heard from them is the Mercury album, and if it's typical then they're a big-time Dud. I'm sure there are good lyrics in there, but the music is so drab and dull and lifeless that it gives me no reason to pay attention.

Patrick, Saturday, 10 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

dud & dull alterna-rock; I would say : avoid it unless you are a college-radio dj.

fernando, Monday, 12 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

nine years pass...

They're not totally classic for me, "Everclear" and the "Live At Slim's" promo are damn good and pretty much all I need.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 24 June 2010 23:50 (nine years ago) link

this is a band I didn't like at all when everybody was going nuts for them and then 2-3 years ago their album The Golden Age basically punched me right in the damn face and it was like, oh, eureka, I get it, this is incredible.

I remember successfully trolling cosloy via letter to conflict in '88, comparing AMC to the indigo girls. I didn't get 'em either until after it was all said and done, when I stumbled across a used copy of mercury. I guess if you don't like lyrics AMC's gonna be a hard plough to pull, but eitzel's one of those guys who at his best transcends the singer-songwriter stink.

don't really understand all the hate for mercury. the production feels like a warm woozy cocoon of whiskey, but even if you don't dig the production, three of eitzel's best songs are "apology for an accident", "I've been a mess", and "johnny mathis' feet".

(e_3) (Edward III), Friday, 25 June 2010 01:58 (nine years ago) link

^ I like the part where he shows johnny his old collection of punk rock posters

(e_3) (Edward III), Friday, 25 June 2010 02:03 (nine years ago) link

J0hn's take on The Golden Age is the only wholly positive one I've read, but it caused me to revisit the record earlier this year. It is perhaps cliche or at least expected to arrange the word "devastating" near an American Music Club album. The Golden Age is a different sort though--imagine Love Songs for Patriots without its political eruptions, giving way entirely to songs like "Myopic Books" and "Another Morning." Even this is wrong--those songs were captured light in an otherwise dark and wrecked ship. There is no light in The Golden Age, just a dull, ornate grey. In that way it reminds me most of the slow, contemplative songs on Everclear but less drunk, more acknowledging depression as the necessary color of life.

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Friday, 25 June 2010 02:15 (nine years ago) link

if that all sounds dumb as hell then my excuse is i just woke up. just trying to make sense of why The Golden Age kind of scares the hell out of me.

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Friday, 25 June 2010 02:32 (nine years ago) link

no you actually made me want to hear it

(e_3) (Edward III), Friday, 25 June 2010 02:32 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

To restate the obvious: Mercury is awful. Holy shit, I can't make it through a single song.

john. a resident of chicago., Saturday, 6 August 2011 18:58 (seven years ago) link

it's messy but has a few great tracks - I've Been A Mess is wonderful

Jamie_ATP, Saturday, 6 August 2011 19:21 (seven years ago) link


This reminds me of the Jeff Buckley c/d thread.

john. a resident of chicago., Saturday, 6 August 2011 19:27 (seven years ago) link

To state the obvious: Mercury is great. No question.

President Keyes, Saturday, 6 August 2011 22:13 (seven years ago) link

There's some crap on Mercury

Apology, Mess, Mathis, Gratitude are all A grade

Too much noodling, half formed songs elsewhere.

Everclear is tight, nowhere near as much filler

Master of Treacle, Saturday, 6 August 2011 23:54 (seven years ago) link

Oh and Hammer is great too

Keep Me Around is just a throwaway single, they never integrated the rockier and the more reflective stuff that well.

Master of Treacle, Saturday, 6 August 2011 23:57 (seven years ago) link

two months pass...

If I snap my fingers what will I get?
If I snap my fingers what will I get?
If I snap my fingers what will I get?
That's right, anything I want
Anything I want

Moreno, Wednesday, 12 October 2011 03:28 (seven years ago) link

in case anyone was wondering. I wouldn't put bets on seeing AMC again, but then, that's what I thought ten years ago.

akm, Wednesday, 12 October 2011 05:53 (seven years ago) link

^That's a great lyric. Note to self: listen to more Eitzel

spellcheck is really advanced these days (cajunsunday), Wednesday, 12 October 2011 11:20 (seven years ago) link

To restate the obvious: Mercury is awful. Holy shit, I can't make it through a single song.

Mercury is a complete classic. Not as much as Everclear but means almost as much to me, for various other reasons.

akm, Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:38 (seven years ago) link

now listening to an AMC album through for the first time (Mercury). I like it a lot. Reminds me a bit of Red House Painters although a bit more hard edged.

spellcheck is really advanced these days (cajunsunday), Wednesday, 12 October 2011 17:45 (seven years ago) link

Mercury is great. Means a lot to me too -- still remember buying it when it came out.

Duke, Wednesday, 12 October 2011 19:47 (seven years ago) link

Mercury is certainly an extremely 90's sounding record, with too much Froom calliope circus noise and chamberlain and tympani and oompah and crap but the songs on it are, from top to bottom, great, and I like Froom's work on this album, in fact, I think it's his best production work. But there is an alternate, Kevin Killan version of the album around if you prefer that. The big change was making If I Had a Hammer 3/4 rather than 4/4.

akm, Wednesday, 12 October 2011 20:04 (seven years ago) link

seven months pass...

I astonished by all the hate for Mercury. It might be my fave and it is certainly one of the most important albums in my life.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 15 May 2012 20:53 (seven years ago) link

incidentally I saw mark last week or the week before in SF, he played with Marc Cappelle and a pickup band that included a bassist and the drummer from Loquat, and it was wonderful. Mark and Marc together are really great. It's not AMC but he's worked with Cappelle longer than anyone in his career at this point and they ahve their shit down. Mark is finishing an album right now (Vudi is on it and a bunch of other people are as well but it's not coming out as an AMC record) and I expect it will be very good.

akm, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 04:02 (seven years ago) link

Mark is finishing an album right now (Vudi is on it and a bunch of other people are as well but it's not coming out as an AMC record) and I expect it will be very good.

I'm sure it will be as well but unfortunately I would only buy it if it came out as an AMC record

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 10:02 (seven years ago) link

If I snap my fingers what will I get?
If I snap my fingers what will I get?
If I snap my fingers what will I get?
That's right, anything I want
Anything I want

God, that song. Easily one of the best things Mark and the band ever did. I'm resigned to buying everything that he ever puts out, just because, but I'd love it if AMC could have another one-last-hurrah, with Kaphan back because their sound was never lovelier than with him. Can't imagine it will ever happen though.

Mark and Marc together are really great

co-sign. I saw their man and piano show in the UK a few years back and it was wonderful.

that mustardless plate (Bill A), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 10:19 (seven years ago) link

I think Mercury may be my favorite AMC album, I'm surprised it is so hated.

Moodles, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 15:28 (seven years ago) link

one more rep for 'California'

great album. sad, lonely, and drunken, but great.

nicky lo-fi, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:56 (seven years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Tim Mooney (AMC's drummer on Mercury, San Francisco, and Love Songs for Patriots, as well as being drummer for Toiling Midgets and others) passed away last night. he was 54.

akm, Thursday, 14 June 2012 23:41 (seven years ago) link

sad news! he was an amazing drummer, also in The Sleepers.

nerve_pylon, Thursday, 14 June 2012 23:52 (seven years ago) link

Oh no! I enjoy his drumming in Toiling Midgets.

Evan, Friday, 15 June 2012 01:04 (seven years ago) link

What?!? That sucks, so sad. He was a great drummer. I was bummed when he didn't appear on The Golden Age after producing and playing on Love Songs For Patriots. Was hoping he'd get back with them some day, but I guess that won't be happening.


Moodles, Friday, 15 June 2012 06:03 (seven years ago) link

I've just discovered this. Really gutted.

Duke, Tuesday, 26 June 2012 21:24 (seven years ago) link

Damn. RIP.

that mustardless plate (Bill A), Tuesday, 26 June 2012 22:26 (seven years ago) link

one month passes...

Mark and Vudi are selling the original paintings by Jean Lowe for the Everclear and San Francisco covers, with all proceeds to Tim Mooney's family. Wonderful paintings, and a beautiful gesture by them - if had sufficient funds to spare I'd love to own either of those pieces (but esp. San Fran).

Everclear on ebay now, San Francisco to follow

that mustardless plate (Bill A), Thursday, 23 August 2012 18:56 (six years ago) link

wow, wish I could buy the everclear one

Moodles, Thursday, 23 August 2012 19:13 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Have had the pleasure of listening to Mark's new album, "Don't be a Stranger". It's very nice. Maybe too nice for some people; it's a mature work, that recalls 60 Watt Silver Lining more than anything else he's done. It's missing some of the fire and intensity of Love Songs for sure, and probably has more incommon with the Golden Age, so if you liked that album (I loved it; it wasn't really meant to come out as an AMC album either) you will probably like this. He is doing a short promotional tour of the UK now with a bigger tour (backed with a band) to follow this fall.

akm, Tuesday, 11 September 2012 03:28 (six years ago) link

one month passes...

Just picked up 'Don't Be a Stranger' this weekend, really enjoying it. '60 Watt Silver Lining' a good reference point, was listening to it earlier in the week and the new one has a similar mood to it.

FWIW 'Mercury' and 'San Fransisco' were the first full albums I owned by AMC and they didn't put me off. Easily available at the time! It was actually hearing "Another Morning" on an Uncut CD that first piqued my interest, but I'd known of them well before then.

michaellambert, Sunday, 28 October 2012 21:08 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Gotta get this new one, I never got Brannan Street, that one had a smaller print

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 17 November 2012 16:30 (six years ago) link

One of my favorite songs of the year:

Simon H., Saturday, 17 November 2012 20:56 (six years ago) link

His voice is fucking amazing. I saw him live two years ago in a bar in Berlin, on his two-man with Marc Capelle, and it was one of the most memorable gigs I've attended because it suddenly occurred to me (embarrassingly, after 20 years of fandom) that he is such a great singer.

Duke, Saturday, 17 November 2012 21:33 (six years ago) link

*two-man tour*

Duke, Saturday, 17 November 2012 21:34 (six years ago) link

yes, the piano + mark thing totally reveals his voice as being UNBELIEVABLE.

Jamie_ATP, Saturday, 17 November 2012 22:19 (six years ago) link

Jamie_ATP, Saturday, 17 November 2012 22:25 (six years ago) link

Jamie_ATP, Saturday, 17 November 2012 22:25 (six years ago) link

I love San Francisco, probably their strongest from a production and musicianship perspective, but a bit overlong and lacking the emotional impact of Everclear and Mercury.

The first time I ever dropped acid was the night this was released. I spent the whole night lying in bed listening to this and Miles Davis Pangaea on my headphones.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 26 May 2018 16:20 (one year ago) link

Eitzel still performs "What Holds the World Together".

Duke, Saturday, 26 May 2018 16:26 (one year ago) link

The vinyl version of SF was so messed up in that it didn't include either Cape Canaveral or The Shadow Of The Valley, which I still think are the two strongest songs on the album. And yeah, the CD should've closed with Two Sleeping Pills (with California Dreaming remaining as the encore.)

doug watson, Saturday, 26 May 2018 17:11 (one year ago) link

Weird, can't imagine leaving off those tracks

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 26 May 2018 17:28 (one year ago) link

I'm making my annual attempt to get into San Francisco today.

I've never been able to divorce it from it's context where it was obviously a last gasp.
I like 'Hello Amsterdam', but then I like the 'Crabwalk'/'Gary's Song'/'The Horsehoe Wreath In Bloom' songs.

campreverb, Saturday, 26 May 2018 17:58 (one year ago) link

Who doesn't like "Crabwalk"?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 26 May 2018 18:33 (one year ago) link

The sad sack version on his solo acoustic CD is pretty good too

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 26 May 2018 18:34 (one year ago) link

It's the upbeat songs (esp "Wish the World Away") that make San Francisco a bummer for me

Simon H., Sunday, 27 May 2018 01:03 (one year ago) link

Yeah. Fearless is a brilliant opener but the album gets derailed fairly quickly with It's Your Birthday. That and Six Packs are the big duds for me. Hello Amsterdam gets a pass for purely nostalgic purposes.

doug watson, Sunday, 27 May 2018 17:59 (one year ago) link

Engine. Patchy? You're having a giggle...California has Bad Liquor, Jenny and Now You're Defeated - far patchier, even though the rest of the album is wonderful.

I like San Francisco because even its less good songs are intriguing. It's probably the weakest of the discography from Engine up to it though.

Everclear > Engine> Mercury> California> United Kingdom>San Francisco....possibly.

yugi ex, Sunday, 27 May 2018 23:25 (one year ago) link

I need to give Engine another try.

Front to back, the "reunion" records are more consistently great than everything that came before besides Everclear, though there are fewer hallelujah peaks.

Simon H., Monday, 28 May 2018 04:19 (one year ago) link

California is their best. Because I heard it first.

Agreed the reunion albums are great.

Duke, Monday, 28 May 2018 17:06 (one year ago) link

I found the Eitzel "demos of shame" on slsk and it's very cool. (What on earth is going on with "Royal Cafe"?) This version of "Kathleen" sounds like Benoit Pioulard or something.

Simon H., Tuesday, 29 May 2018 10:19 (one year ago) link

For me it's Mercury>California>Everclear>Engine>LSFP.

That's the most love I can score for a reunion album, the rest are unranked, as is SF. (Though 60 Watt would probably go ahead of California).

campreverb, Tuesday, 29 May 2018 15:07 (one year ago) link

Mercury, Everclear and United Kingdom are my top3

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 1 June 2018 20:41 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

Hey Mr Ferryman.

My favorites are "An Answer", "Mr Humphries" (which I think is similar to "Johnny Mathis' Feet") and "An Angel's Wing Brushed The Penny Slots".

"Nothing And Everything" is one of the bleakest things I've ever heard by anyone.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 16 November 2018 18:12 (eight months ago) link

It's a great album.

Duke, Friday, 16 November 2018 20:50 (eight months ago) link

Tis the season.

wayne trotsky (Simon H.), Friday, 16 November 2018 21:16 (eight months ago) link

Yeah that album rules

President Keyes, Saturday, 17 November 2018 01:49 (eight months ago) link

three months pass...

I enjoyed Songs Of Love. That version of "Western Sky" is amazing. "Crabwalk" works surprisingly well without a band, still amuses me when he goes "ooh-oohhhh"

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 8 March 2019 20:17 (four months ago) link

I have that one on LP. the number of times he apologizes never fails to crack me up.

Simon H., Friday, 8 March 2019 20:18 (four months ago) link

Forgot to mention "Nothing Can Bring me Down" (an early version of "What Godzilla Said...") is quite special too, I cant quite describe the difference, perhaps a little more mysterious?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 8 March 2019 20:21 (four months ago) link

Mark is playing a living room show in Detroit in mid-April for 25 ppl btw. I really wish I could go

Simon H., Friday, 8 March 2019 20:23 (four months ago) link

His solo performances are very emotionally intense

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Friday, 8 March 2019 20:54 (four months ago) link

I'm still bummed about him saying he won't tour canada due to (perceived?) lack of demand :( :( :(

Simon H., Friday, 8 March 2019 21:00 (four months ago) link

I've never been to an AMC or Eitzel show that was particularly well-attended.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Friday, 8 March 2019 21:04 (four months ago) link

He'll play in Canada if he's invited, the issue lies with local promoters. xp

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Friday, 8 March 2019 21:24 (four months ago) link

all london shows have been small but packed. and yes, always intense. which is good!

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Saturday, 9 March 2019 00:16 (four months ago) link

His current live shows are pretty amazing, he really throws himself into his songs with an emotional intensity that I didn't detect when I used to see him with AMC back in the day.

henry s, Saturday, 9 March 2019 11:52 (four months ago) link

one month passes...

I am going to see a living room Eitzel show next week and goddamn I am excited...been listening to AMC and his last solo album a lot, I kinda forgot how big of a thing they were for me at a certain point in time

this really holds up well

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 16 April 2019 15:03 (three months ago) link

extremely jealous. I actually pondered making a road trip to one of those gigs but I just couldn't make it work w my schedule+budget.

Simon H., Tuesday, 16 April 2019 15:05 (three months ago) link

I've got two coming up in the bay area; maybe a third as well. feeling spoiled again as I used to when he still lived here and actually played out.

akm, Wednesday, 17 April 2019 05:15 (three months ago) link

Any news on those AMC reissues, akm?

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Wednesday, 17 April 2019 07:05 (three months ago) link

Where is Eitzel based these days?

Duke, Wednesday, 17 April 2019 16:34 (three months ago) link

Went last night, so amazing

Was sitting about 10 feet from him

Opened with Western Sky, did pretty much everything I wanted to hear

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 26 April 2019 21:26 (two months ago) link

Mark lives in LA with his soon-to-be husband.

I'll follow up on the reissues. I know they got all the tapes transferred.

akm, Tuesday, 30 April 2019 13:11 (two months ago) link

extremely jealous, ums

Simon H., Tuesday, 30 April 2019 13:13 (two months ago) link

He plays Seattle tonight at Boeing's Museum of Flight. Cool switch for a 'living room' tour. Bummed that I'm elsewhere, as the location doesn't get much more convenient for me.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Tuesday, 30 April 2019 16:51 (two months ago) link

without going into too much detail on the reissues, I can say: tapes have all been transfered but there are further bumps with contracts and ownership and some disagreements and lawyers giving poor advice.

This is probably what will happen:

akm, Sunday, 5 May 2019 15:34 (two months ago) link

So the re-releases will be 35 years after the first release? Or am I being stupid? California in 2023?

Duke, Sunday, 5 May 2019 20:38 (two months ago) link

Would fully welcome this if the band finally seems some reward for their work.

Duke, Sunday, 5 May 2019 20:40 (two months ago) link

THast's what I was hoping not to be true from what was being said. Hoping things would be coming a bit faster, BUt at least that would be a finite time.
JUst hope to get it in decent sound on a medium I can play. & not 4 years from now.

Stevolende, Sunday, 5 May 2019 20:42 (two months ago) link

Or taht is to say, the heavy delay.

Stevolende, Sunday, 5 May 2019 20:42 (two months ago) link

I've all the early releases on both LP and CD. I'm also not unhappy about how they sound. So I can wait. But I'm still excited by the prospect of reissues. Such an important band to me.

Duke, Sunday, 5 May 2019 21:02 (two months ago) link

the albums will either come out 35 years after their first release or Mark will bit the bullet and just put them out and then deal with whatever blowback occurs.

akm, Monday, 6 May 2019 02:11 (two months ago) link

"if the band finally seems some reward for their work"

"the band" at this point is just Mallon's estate, Danny, and Vudi. Mark is giving up his share of whatever these make from sales the them. But there are still some feelings somewhere that this isn't good enough and some thought that these albums are worth more than we know they are on the marketplace. Anyone who has released an album on this board knows the reality of the marketplace is that there is shit little money in physical releases now and streaming revenue doesn't bring in very much either. Mark will always own any royalties for the actual licensing of the songs should that ever happen (which he says it never will; in his words, "when I die it's not going to be Pink Moon in a VW commercial, it just isn't") because he was the songwriter. So in a rational world this is easily solved but there are some irrational feelings at play. My recommendation has always been to self-release this and don't take it to a label because what good is a label at this point for something like this? We can put some money toward PR when they come out to help sales. But a label is just going to siphon off money frankly.

akm, Monday, 6 May 2019 02:20 (two months ago) link

Well shit, I guess I have to give up on my dream of hearing "Patriot's Heart" used as the theme song for my favorite NFL team.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Monday, 6 May 2019 05:57 (two months ago) link

revision on all of this though: I think things are moving along better than how Mark portrayed it to me the other night. So fingers crossed this stuff will be happening soon(ish)

akm, Monday, 6 May 2019 13:21 (two months ago) link

Chanel No 5, hello?

calstars, Monday, 6 May 2019 14:16 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

Headed to the UK in a week to do another recording with @Bernard_Butler Looking forward to it!

— Sir Arthur Palgrove (@MarkEitzel) June 6, 2019

hell yeah

Simon H., Thursday, 6 June 2019 19:26 (one month ago) link

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