David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 183: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (The Impression That I Get)

September 18, 2022

Why do all late 1990's rock pop songs sound the same to me? Or, is that just the impression that I get?

The slashing guitars.

The frantic vocals, hip-hop merging with ska.

The musical breakdowns.

The crashing choruses.

Between Spring 1997 and Spring 1998, The Wallflowers, Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, Smash Mouth, Chumbawamba, Semisonic, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones could have been played back to back on my lousy AM station, and I might have not even noticed they were songs by different bands.

Was that one headlight crashing toward me, some tubthumping, an all-star, or the results of a semi-charmed life?  Was I already an old fart at 32 when radio could jump from one of these songs to another while I mostly yawned? I suspect everyone already wants to scream that answer: "Yes."

Disappointingly, I am sure that in another time, I would have geeked all over The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' "The Impression That I Get," the cool, edgy, ska song that rocked a little more than whatever No Doubt and Sublime had been releasing. I would have been a little shocked at the notion that they were part of something called "ska punk", mostly because I would have argued that ska was punk in its origins.

"The Impression That I Get" is wonderful lyrically, challenging all of us who ever lived semi-charmed lives to consider that others less fortunate than us have "felt a pain so powerful, so heavy you collapse," those of us whose "odds stacked so high you need a strength most don't possess." If anything, this direct imploring of the listener to consider if they have "never knocked on wood" is undercut by the rather trite "I'm sure it isn't good/but that's the impression that I get."

The absolute commitment to the brass section makes the song infectious. When you have Tim Burton as your saxophonist not long after the other Tim Burton has made Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, that had to be a plus for getting my attention. But, it didn't. Maybe Bosstone Tim Burton's nickname, "Johnny Vegas," turned me off, although doesn't "Johnny Vegas" sound like it should have been a Tim Burton movie?

The accompanying video paid all the proper homage to the ska of the late 1970s and early 1980s, providing slightly stockier (maybe healthier), less Special, versions of Terry Hall and Horace Panter.

Again, I ask, did my music snobbery rock block me here?  Was 1997 pop rock that bland? Allow me to seriously ponder music from 10 years and 20 years prior.

1997 certainly couldn't compare to the rock pop of 1987, right?  "Alone, "Angel," "Midnight Blue," "Here I Go Again." Fuck. The Power Ballad Era. What the hell was I thinking? Never mind. Let's go back another decade.

Confidently, it can't compare to 1977, I say. Look at that list of songs: "Carry On My Wayward Son," "Come Sail Away," "Hotel California," "Foreplay/Long Time." That was rock 'n' roll! Uh, hmm, maybe long, bombastic songs did start to sound a little redundant?  Hmm?

I may be having an epiphany: I might have some biases when it comes to music. At least, that's the impression that you get.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. "The Impression That I Get." Let's Face It. Mercury, 1997. Link here.

Day 182: Tears For Fears "Everbody Wants To Rule The World"

Day 184: Don Henley "The Heart Of The Matter"

See complete list here.