Friday, May 8, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 53)

53. "Sittin' Pretty"
Artist: Brendan Benson
Year: 1996

Here is yet another album I discovered through the many arms of Jellyfish. More than half of the songs on Brendan Benson's debut album were co-written by power-pop wizard Jason Falkner. The two of them put together a six-song demo that Virgin seemed to like, and they eagerly signed Benson. Falkner was on board as producer and all-around brother in arms for the LP, but as often happens in the majors, the big boys meddled. Benson agreed to use the label's preferred producer, Ethan Johns, for a do over. To these ears, Johns did a fine job on 'One Mississippi,' and it's without a doubt one of my favorite albums of the decade. So, I'm not complaining. Unfortunately, Virgin ended up not giving a damn about the finished product. There was no single, no promotion, and the label quickly dropped Benson. The album went out of print in a heartbeat, at least here in America, and very few of heard it in its first go around. I snagged a Dutch copy in 1997 and played it for all who would listen.

It would take about six years before we would hear from Benson again, but it was worth the wait. 'Lapalco' came out on Star Time International, a little engine that could, and this time there was airplay and well-deserved critical acclaim. The label even reissued 'One Mississippi' not long after the success of the second album, complete with the six recordings Benson and Falkner used to wow Virgin so many years earlier. I chose "Sittin' Pretty" for this countdown, but it easily could have been "I'm Blessed" or "Me Just Purely." The nearly (but not quite) lost album has so many gems.


1001Songs said...

Infectious! A fave of mine as well

The Swede said...

Marvelous. Any friend of Jason's in the 1990's was a friend of mine. I saw Brendan supporting The Wallflowers at Dingwalls in 1996, then by chance caught up with him again 13 years later in New York, on a double header bill with The Posies. 'One Mississippi' is a really great LP, though for me the one track would have to be 'Me Just Purely'.

McPop said...

Awesome post. I'm a big Brendan Benson fan! I've got all 6 of his albums and love them all. 3 songs you mentioned are my favorites off One Mississippi. Lapalco is fab as well. But don't sleep on 'The Alternative to Love', also a necessity in everyones collection. My two sons gave me his latest 'You Were Right' on vinyl this past Christmas (along with Mike Viola's Electro de Perfecto)!

Brian said...

Nice to see some fans out there. Nice to hear from you, 1001.

Swede, very cool that you saw him from the beginning. I have seen him quite a few times, but the first time wasn't until right when the second album came out. One of the greatest nights for me. I saw him at the tiny Schuba's Tavern in Chicago. Get this: Watched an up-and-coming band outside in the garden with one album that had just come out... it was the Shins. Might have been 50 people there. The second they finished I ran inside to watch Brendan Benson. He was followed by Archer Prewitt from the Sea and Cake. Quite a trio!

McPop, I really like the Alternative to Love too. I have a vivid memory of buying it when it came out because I got it while on a trip to Arizona. It became the soundtrack to the entire vacation. The album will forever be linked to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. I have lost track of his most recent stuff, however. I did get the Upstairs at United vinyl. Wow, was that almost four years ago? That's when I stopped. Really should catch up.... a great talent.