Well I thought there was more to life than finishing a POLL: The American Music Club album poll

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I've been listening to American Music Club again lately and thought it would be interesting to poll this, as I really like their last two 'reunion' albums and would find it difficult to say that these later albums do not hold their own against the classic late 80s-early 90s stuff. But I got into AMC in 1990, so my emotional bond is perhaps more with the albums of that era.

Anyway, I'd be interested in your views on their oeuvre...

Poll Results

1991 - Everclear 9
1988 - California 7
1993 - Mercury 6
1986 - The Restless Stranger 0
1987 - Engine 0
1990 - United Kingdom 0
1994 - San Francisco 0
2004 - Love Songs for Patriots 0
2008 - The Golden Age 0

Duke, Saturday, 30 January 2010 21:31 (ten years ago) link

Lots of good choices here, but Mercury is my sentimental favorite. It was my jam back in High School.

Moodles, Saturday, 30 January 2010 22:49 (ten years ago) link

Every one of their albums has something to love, even The Restless Stranger, but Everclear is the album I keep coming back to...

Deluxe Merseybeat Wig (Jack Battery-Pack), Saturday, 30 January 2010 22:51 (ten years ago) link

Mercury is an interesting choice, as some complain about it being a little anaemic in its production etc. (I love them all, I should say).

Duke, Saturday, 30 January 2010 23:26 (ten years ago) link

Everclear literally changed my life when I first heard it in 91. But I love Mercury for other reasons as well (and all the others for other reasons). Tough call. Everclear though.

akm, Sunday, 31 January 2010 03:49 (ten years ago) link

I love California. It's a great drinking companion.

nicky lo-fi, Sunday, 31 January 2010 03:56 (ten years ago) link


Duke, Sunday, 31 January 2010 10:09 (ten years ago) link

This is very difficult.

Engine side one is perfect-- "Outside this Bar", "Nightwatchman", "At My Mercy"--but I rarely play the 2nd side (literally, since I have it on vinyl.)

Everclear is their most consistent, mood-wise. Can't understand why it's not an object of worship.

Mercury seemed to be the album most pushed by critics at the time, but despite a lot of great songs it didn't quite match its immediate predecessors.

California has most of my favorite of their songs ("Western Sky" "Blue & Grey Shirt" "Last Harbor" "Firefly") and I picked it as my #1 in the 80s poll, so I'm voting for it here.

President Keyes, Sunday, 31 January 2010 14:35 (ten years ago) link

California is definitely classic.

Some people at the time thought that Everclear's production was too glossy (perhaps not surprising since it followed the rough and ready United Kingdom). But I think it works well, and your point about the consistent mood is a good one.

The band rehearsal for Everclear and Mercury are widely available (you can buy them on CD from the band website http://amc.bigcartel.com/product/amc-everclear-rehearsals-cd) and are a good listen if you're interested in the development of the songs.

Duke, Sunday, 31 January 2010 17:33 (ten years ago) link

Without any hesitation at all: California.

I was utterly obsessed with them in the late 80s and early 90s, but I thought it then, and I think it still, that they peaked with California and that it was diminishing returns from then on. At the time I wholeheartedly believed that Engine -> California -> United Kingdom was as great a three-album run as had ever existed in popular music. I didn't get to hear Restless Stranger until the reissue programme, so it remained (in those pre-internet days) an elusive (impossible) dream.

Everclear had too much sonic sheen for me, but contains some of their greatest songs. I'd have loved to have heard it produced by Tom Mallon. Despite the sheen, I still loved it.

Mercury was the moment where they really started to stumble for me... the numerous B-Sides of the singles were the first tracks of theirs that I'd heard that were clearly unessential, and on the album itself I was heartbroken at what they did to Nothing Can Bring Me Down/What Godzilla Said To God. Despite some reservations, they still had some outstanding songs on that record.

Unfortunately, San Francisco was pretty much no good, and I haven't given more than a handful of plays to the two new ones.

But California... I love everything, everything about it. I was evangelical about it, despite being crushed with disappointment on first play. I'd read some review of their live shows that went on about sheets of guitar feedback and tortured anguish, and I was all about Big Black and Swans and Sonic Youth, so I laid down my heard-earned cash without ever having heard them... and I was horrified. This wasn't screeching, squalling guitars at all! These days I wouldn't have given it a second listen, but back then £7.50 for an album was a huge outlay from my part-time job and so I listened to it again and again, determined to find something in there of worth, and gradually, one track at a time, I realised that this was solid gold genius. I lost count of how many times I taped it for people, or how many tracks I put on mixtapes.

The fact that it is currently unavailable to buy in any physical format (it's probably on iTunes... or is it?) is perverse in the extreme.

Officer Pupp, Sunday, 31 January 2010 21:00 (ten years ago) link

Mercury is an interesting choice, as some complain about it being a little anaemic in its production


鬼の手 (Edward III), Sunday, 31 January 2010 21:04 (ten years ago) link

one of my favorite production jobs

鬼の手 (Edward III), Sunday, 31 January 2010 21:05 (ten years ago) link

I think Mercury is Mitchell Froom's best work that I've heard, except for maybe "woodface" or something. I know the band had issues with it but they have never been their own best judges.

San Francisco is overproduced and I went from loving it on release to hating it for years back to quite liking it. I think chicharelli did the best job he could do with it. The worst thing about the album is that it's too long and they left "sleeping pills" off the CD for some bizarre reason when it was better than a good number of songs that were included.

Bruce Kaphan was underserved and underutilized by both producers though. Live shows from around Everclear and Mercury really show what he was capable of doing with a pedal steel guitar.

akm, Tuesday, 2 February 2010 07:06 (ten years ago) link

personal resequencing of san francisco improved its listenability 100% in my household

鬼の手 (Edward III), Tuesday, 2 February 2010 21:16 (ten years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Friday, 12 February 2010 00:01 (ten years ago) link

one of the weird things about SF (and AMC in general) is the inclusion of Hello Amsterdam, and it's choice as a single. And AMC's insistence that it was a good song. There are a few things like that in their catalogue, just "WTF" moments. It seems so obvious to me that by the time SF was recorded, what AMC really excelled at were atmospheric ballads; they could rock, and Wish the World Away was proof of that (even though the production on the end product is mushy), but things like 'sleeping pills', 'cape canaveral', 'revolving door' were so much better. maybe they didn't want to produce a huge downer of a record, and AMC can certainly be funny, but 'hello amsterdam' wasn't, really, unless you knew the whole backstory, and who the hell did?

akm, Friday, 12 February 2010 00:22 (ten years ago) link

i have no idea what the "hello amsterdam" backstory is -- i didn't even know there was a backstory -- but i think it's a nifty pop-rock song (on a not-very-good album).

fact checking cuz, Friday, 12 February 2010 00:36 (ten years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Saturday, 13 February 2010 00:01 (ten years ago) link

I was sure I voted Engine...apparently not

Ork Alarm (Matt #2), Saturday, 13 February 2010 01:43 (ten years ago) link

in grade 10 or so I was a big fan of the Richard Thompson and Suzanne Vega albums that Mitchell Froom did so I started looking up his other productions, starting oddly enough with Mercury. it doesn't really have a lot in common with those other records but I ended up listening to it over and over. Still my favourite from AMC or Mark Eitzel.

have we polled his solo records?

derrrick, Saturday, 13 February 2010 09:44 (ten years ago) link

Hello Amsterdam was originally written about an argument Eitzel and Vudi had with a journalist in Amsterdam about the importance of pop music (the journalist insisted AMC were great artists, Eitzel insisted they were making worthless pop trash etc, etc, etc). They then changed it to refer to a chance meeting with Tesla in a music store in SF.

SF would definitely benefit from having 4 or 5 songs culled from it.

Duke, Saturday, 13 February 2010 10:47 (ten years ago) link

that's the presidents test for physical fitness. hello amsterdam was just about touring and playing in amsterdam and playing 'fernando' to a group of uncaring nederlanders

akm, Sunday, 14 February 2010 06:29 (ten years ago) link

You're right -- I got it the wrong way round. That was one of the b-sides on the Hello Amsterdam ep thingy.

Duke, Sunday, 14 February 2010 17:17 (ten years ago) link

I'm a little surprised at all the San Francisco hate. It isn't my favorite of theirs, but I think it is really good. Could have been possibly been better with a few songs shaved off.

Funny story, my first LSD experience was on the night San Francisco was released. I spent the entire night lying in bed with my headphones on, tripping balls, listening to San Fran and Miles Davis' Pangaea. It was kind of an odd night...

Moodles, Sunday, 14 February 2010 17:56 (ten years ago) link

Also surprised that only 3 albums received any votes at all.

Moodles, Sunday, 14 February 2010 17:56 (ten years ago) link

Didn't see this in time to vote. Not sure what I would have chosen; I might have been the lone vote for Engine. My favorite Eitzel release ever is Songs of Love Live, which is a solo concert of AMC songs. The version of "Western Sky" on that is amazing. The two newer albums are actually pretty decent too. Plus there's an itunes only live release that is worth hearing for the great version of "Patriot's Heart".

purrington, Sunday, 14 February 2010 18:50 (ten years ago) link

I have a live CD called "A Toast To You" from the Love Songs For Patriots tour. They were great on that tour and seemed to have fun. The album reflects that.

Duke, Sunday, 14 February 2010 20:47 (ten years ago) link

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