Saturday, October 31, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 4)

4. "Tracy Hide"
Artist: Wondermints
Year: 1995

When I featured Jeffrey Foskett on this countdown, the Swede wondered if Wondermints would also make this series. I'm sure even he couldn't have imagined it would be nearly 80 places before that prediction would come to fruition. I, of course, knew, and it was a smile when I read his comment way back in March. Wondermints are usually described as "Brian Wilson's backing band." On the one hand, I'll be forever grateful Wilson showed up unexpectedly at a Brian Wilson charity tribute show in L.A. (the bill was Wondermints, Alex Chilton and Apples in Stereo... what a night!) and was blown away by Wondermints' rendition of "This Whole World." That eventful night eventually led to 16 years (and counting) worth of touring and recording together, not the least of which was Darian Sahanaja's vital role making 'Smile' a reality in 2004.

Having said all that, for those of us who think of Wondermints first and foremost as one of the all-time great power-pop outfits, we have paid a price, albeit small, for being witnesses to Wilson's return from the abyss. Wondermints haven't had an album of new material since 2002, but I won't complain too much. Every song they have given us since the early '90s has been gold, and I certainly can't be angry about the Wilson connection and then choose "Tracy Hide," a tune that sounds more like "Wonderful" or some other long lost song from the 'Smile' era than any other in the band's discography. You can find this one on the self-titled debut from 1995. There were five songs from the album that made my long list of candidates for this countdown. It's that good.

In 1996, the band released an inspired album of obscure covers called 'Wonderful World of Wondermints.' In an unusual turn, Wondermints covered Wondermints as the album closer. Here is an ever-so-slightly different take of "Tracy Hide."

"Tracy Hide (Cover Version)"


The Swede said...

Blimey, I'd totally forgotten about that comment. You're quite right of course, The Wondermints are an almost perfect power-pop band. I have the debut, 'Bali' and 'Wonderful World of' in this house. Favourite tune off the top of my head? 'Chris-Craft No. 10' was the one that always made it onto the car tapes, but 'Tracy Hide' is just beautiful.

Echorich said...

The beauty in The Wondermints sound is that for all their direct reflection of Brian Wilson/Beach Boys in their sound there is a modernism, if I may, a new wave take on that particularly 60's wall of sound. It's something they have in common with XTC - when the later puts it's edge to one side. Lots of people call it "pastoral" and I think this sort of fits, but dreamy also comes to mind.

Scott said...

Glad to see this so high up in the list Brian. Had the good fortune to see them with Brian Wilson in Glasgow on the Pet sounds tour. Will be retrospectively going back through the list this week.

Brian said...

Swede, Well, you have just about everything then, don't you? Chris-Craft is great. The first album feels like it's full of singles to me, whereas Bali is even from beginning to end.

Echorich, Nailed it, my friend.

Scott, Can you believe I'm still not done with this list? I never got to see Wondermints on their own, but I have seen them many times backing Brian Wilson, including the Pet Sounds tour at three different locations. The first time literally brought tears to my eyes during Caroline, No.