90s Style — Episode 05 (They Might Be Giants, Adidas advertising, Trainspotting reunion)

This episode began with a riff on the concurrent 2015 Rugby World Cup, and Patrick posed the trivia question: Can you name the 10 countries in the world with names of only 4 letters?

Then came a brief reflection on a band that broke out in 1998 and went on to tremendous success:

I’ve been wanting to play this next track since starting this show but it’s always been preempted by something else or I’ve forgotten. It was the first song released by a band that would go on to have a very successful career in Australia, including a Top 10 hit that would come in at #2 in the Hottest 100. When they broke out in 1998 they were very kooky and lots of fun, great music videos, very entertaining live — I saw them at Homebake a couple of times — but as they aged they became very earnest and recorded and released some very sincere Australian indie rock, and I always yearned for those earlier days when they were just having fun. So let’s revisit those days: this is Sweater (obvs by Eskimo Joe).

Following this was a track by 4 Non Blondes, and because of time constraints, Patrick was unable to share the story of how 4NB is, to the best of his admittedly expansive music knowledge, the only band until Maroon 5 to have both a colour and a number in their name. “In 1999, my high school friend Ed and I had a long running battle to name the most bands with colours and numbers in their name,” Patrick would have said had he said this. Linda Perry, lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, is now a major songwriter, especially for Christina Aguilera, viz Beautiful, an Australian #1 hit.

Patrick then spoke in depth about discovering a band that would go on to become one of his favourites. Look, you should listen to the whole show, but if you’re short of time or have no aural canals…

In 1998, Triple J conducted its first Hottest 100 of all time since becoming a yearly countdown in 1993. It was played on a Sunday afternoon in August 1998 — the day Norths beat Canterbury 38-4 at Belmore Sports Ground — and coming in at #78 that day, between Video Killed The Radio Star and Sweet Child O Mine, was Birdhouse In Your Soul by Massachusetts/New York band They Might Be Giants. It was the first time I’d heard of They Might Be Giants and it was love at first hearing over the radio. Insanely catchy riffs, an infectious enthusiasm for nerd culture and really descriptive, esoteric lyrics was a perfect combination for 17-year-old me. Only a few weeks later, They Might Be Giants released a new single called Dr Worm and a live greatest hits album called Severe Tire Damage. I picked up a copy from Metropolis Records on Young Street in Neutral Bay and really wore it out on my Sony Walkman the weeks after that. I had never heard anything like it before: so confidently eccentric and happy to be on the fringes of success despite a decade long career to that point.

TMBG (as the pros call them) went mainstream in the early naughties when they recorded the theme to Malcolm In The Middle and they toured Australia shortly after that and I saw them with my sister, who is also a fan, at the Metro in Sydney. They were back in Sydney in April 2013 and we went back to the Metro to see them again — gigs watched by a very motley collection of Sydney’s most hip bon vivants (and me) — and to give you an idea of how committed to their craft TMBG is, the band played 30 songs that day — an incredible effort — they are back to plan the Enmore on Friday 6 November 2015, a show that is curiously described as suitable for people 14 years and up. We’re going to listen to a live track now from They Might Be Giants, originally recorded in 1993 and then featured on Severe Tire Damage, this song answers the age-old question, Why Does The Sun Shine?

Here’s an ad for Adidas from 1996:

And here’s the race that would follow “in Atlanta”:

And here’s Patrick reminiscing:

Probably my favourite ad of 90s, certainly the one I have the fondest memories of; the charm of Bailey’s childlike wonder for the race and for Jesse Owens and for his shoes. It’s very powerful and I was very moved by it in the lead up to the race, for which I was cheering loudly for Donovan. Looking back now I think it’s curious that Adidas, a German brand, was so loud in its celebration of Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1996, Adidas president Robert Louis Dreyfus said:

“This advertising demonstrates Adidas’s pre-eminence as the sports brand of choice for the very best athletes in the world, past, present and future.”

While it is true that Adidas founder Adi Dassler shod Jesse at Berlin in 1936, he also shod the German army during the War but thankfully they couldn’t run as fast.

Another trivia question: Can you name the B-side to Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ 1996 hit Love Rollercoaster, from the film Beavis and Butthead Do America?

One of Patrick’s favourite books and films is Trainspotting: he’s a big fan of Irvine Welsh and has read most of the Scotsman’s oeuvre. After listening to a cut from the second Trainspotting soundtrack, Patrick expressed his excitement for the upcoming (maybe) long-awaited sequel:

Good news for Trainspotting fans: it looks like director Danny Boyle and stars Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner and Robert Carlyle are almost ready to film Porno, the sequel set 10 years after the events of Trainspotting, ie the mid 90s. What a great soundtrack that will be! Author Irvine Welsh was asked about this recently and he said:

“I know Danny and Ewan are back in touch with each other again. There are others in the cast who’ve had a rocky road, but now also reconciled. With the Trainspotting sequel the attention is going to be even more intense this time round because the first was such a great movie — and Danny’s such a colossus now. We’re all protective of the Trainspotting legacy and we want to make a film that adds to that legacy and doesn’t take away from it.”

The songs of the week for this week in 1999, from Patrick's Year 12 diary. Note that Patrick misswrote Deadstar as Deadwater. He also seemed to be testing his knowledge of the first four letters of the alphabet.

The songs of the week for this week in 1999, from Patrick’s Year 12 diary. Note that Patrick misswrote Deadstar as Deadwater. He also seemed to be testing his knowledge of the first four letters of the alphabet.

About one of those songs of the week, Patrick spoke in some depth:

Mambo No 5 (A Little Bit) by Lou Bega — (here’s some) little known chart trivia: there were two versions of that song, one by Lou Bega and another by Latin Lou + The Mambo All Stars, which was essentially one of the really early contemporary covers you tend to see on Spotify or YouTube quite a lot these days, though this actually hit #44 for one week in 1999, the same week, incidentally, that Lou Bega’s version debuted at #7 so, you know, smart work Australia.

And the show closed with answers to the prenominate trivia questions and some gibber about a possible rapprochement:

Big news coming out of LA this week that one-time biggest band in the world Guns N Roses are considering a huge reunion tour with Axl and Slash back together for the first time since the 90s. the Use Your Illusions cassettes were the first ones Mum let me get that had language warning stickers on them — I was 10 years old at the time (is that too young?) — anyways, let’s have a listen to one of the stand out tracks from Use Your Illusion II and Terminator 2: Judgement Day; this is You Could Be Mine.

And this very epic episode reached its coda with some classic college rock!

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