Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The White Gods! Come From the Sky At Last!

Okay, this one gets my vote for the most gorgeous/perfect powerpop song of the 90s and I'm not sure I've heard a better one since. From 1997, it's Del Amitri and "Not Where It's At."



Seriously -- everything about this record is flawless and brilliant, from the central title/lyrical conceit (you want post-hippie irony? This one beats Nick Lowe's "Peace, Love and Understanding" hands down) to the massive twelve-string riffage (at least as good as anything on any Byrds album, I think) to the vocal performance by Justin Currie (and if there's a more hauntingly expressive pop vocalist currently wearing shoe leather I'd like to meet him).

I actually sang the praises of this song in May of last year despite the fact that the video wasn't then on YouTube (I made do with its almost as good albummate, "Some Other Sucker's Parade"). Well, now it's here, and while it doesn't come close to doing the song justice, I frankly don't care. The music's genius, and like I said -- I'm not sure anybody's topped it in the decade since.

Enjoy!

[Incidentally, today's title is from Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House, and it references a line of dialogue from certain stock Hollywood jungle movies of the 30s which Wolfe used to describe the reaction of the American cultural establishment to the arrival of certain European expat architects. Let me just go on record here as saying that while I think Wolfe's politics are reactionary and appalling Bauhaus is nevertheless a screamingly funny little book. Thank you.]

14 comments:

Speedy said...

Thanks steve. That really is some fine power pop.

peter spencer said...

Made my day. The highest test is if a sad song can cheer you up. This one does. Besutiful.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Shame that "Some Other Sucker's Parade" sunk without a trace upon release.

steve simels said...

KC:

Indeed, a great album. I lost my copy the last time I moved, so I had to content myself with downloading the title song and "Not Where It's At" from iTunes.

Anonymous said...

Steve:

Your joking about the 12 string guitar "riffage" comparing to the Byrds, right?

If your not joking, I am asking you to go back and listen to: 5th Dimension, Younger Than Yesterday and Notorious Byrd Brothers and tell me you still believe your comment is correct.

Get real buddy.

ROT(Plumber)

steve simels said...

ROTP(lumber):

I don't think you're listening close enough...the twelve on this song is vintage McGuinn....

TMink said...

Wow. Great song. Gotta get me some of that.

Trey

MBowen said...

Not bad, but I'm not as taken with the singer as you are, and I find the whole thing a little...classicist, I guess.

A couple more recent power-pop gems I prefer are this from 2004 (you've heard the synth hook in about a half-dozen commercials) and this from 2006.

Not to mention that the best band of the 1990s, The Loud Family, released 3 studio albums and one live album since 1997.

TJWood said...

I'll admit that there were really only two Del Amitri songs I was familiar with ("Roll to Me" and "Always The Last To Night". I checked out all the videos shown he and was impresssed--power pop wise, they know their records and they know their Records. "Not Where It's At" does sound like the great lost Records single, IMHO. They may have gotten lost in the Britpop shuffle of the 90's, but they certainly deserve a better break on modern rock radio than they apparently got.

steve simels said...

mbowen:

I think you're right about this being a little, as you say, classicist, but I think of that more as a virtue than you do, I guess.

In any case, I'm one of those folks who think the Loud Family's first is as close to the Beatles White Album as sentient mammals will ever get, but the best band of the 90s? I don't think any of their subsequent work came close to the sheer mind-boggle of the debut...

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mtrude said...

I don't often hear a tune online and then rush to download it, but this song made me do just that.

By the way, that's at Amazon, where the downloads are 265kb.

Great little tune, Steve. Thanks for turning me on. Most perfect power pop song of the '90s? Well, I don't want to get into that. (Cough. Bill Lloyd's "I Went Electric." Cough.) There were so many incredible power pop tunes during the decade. Nowadays, not so much.

El Tiante said...

Del Amitri's been on my iPod from day one. I'm old enough that I managed to tune out the 90s (grunge and rap did nothing for me) and am making up for lost time with songs like this one, and Matthew Sweet and Fountains of wayne and anything else I can find.

Can't say this is the perfect power pop record, especially with the Rembrandts and Sweet both recording during this time, but it's surely Top 10 All Time.

Mister Pleasant said...

This was one of those songs I heard while shopping (my god, maybe at Walgreens) and I figured I would never know the name of the band. But it is a keeper for sure. The 12 string work is quite fine. My only quibble is that the main melody is a bit too close for comfort to the verse melody of XTC's The Loving.