Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Another fun find from YouTube. "Erica's Word" was a 1985 single from San Francisco's Game Theory, a group led by Scott Miller. Miller's taste in lyrics tended to run towards clever wordplay, and I especially like the lines "Make believe and pretend/I remember when they served the same end." The highpoint of the group's career was 1987's Lolita Nation, a double album of new wave/powerpop meets postmodernism lyrics meets collage and cutup. Unfortunately the group wasn't able to capitalise on it when their followup Two Steps From the Middle Ages came out just before their label at the time, Enigma, went bankrupt, followed by the departure of guitarist/vocalist Donette Thayer and an injury that prevented drummer Gil Ray from touring with the band. The group never really recovered, but Lolita Nation has become sort of a cult classic, no doubt helped along by the fact that CDs of the album are apparently almost as rare as hen's teeth and have been known to sell for considerable sums, as the album has remained, as the late great Clyde Gilmour might say, "in cutout bin limbo." I really need to dig out my LP copy and give it a spin one of these days.
It's interesting to compare Game Theory's fate with another band that released a double album in that period, Sonic Youth. While Game Theory got the short end of the stick Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation played a key role in getting the band signed by Geffen, leading them to become the most successful group to come out of the New York underground scene of the 1980s. Like Game Theory Sonic Youth were signed to Enigma, although unlike Game Theory they had another outlet for their album, England's Blast First.