Daily Archives: August 27, 2009

Blast From The Past: TPOH

And not necessarily in that order

And not necessarily in that order

Wow…it’s been almost ten years since this greatest hits collection, which gives you an idea how long it’s been since The Pursuit Of Happiness was first climbing the ladder to success. Almost out of the box their classic “I’m An Adult Now” became a smash on college radio (and a cult hit here in the States), and although they never attained that level of commercial appeal again, their body of work is deep and impressive.

Why is it so hard for Canadian bands to impact US radio? (Don’t answer – that’s a rhetorical question). Along with The Odds, TPOH was an intregal part of my musical pleasure in the 90s and their albums are still favorites today. Yet sections of their catalogue remain unreleased here, and as for their name recognition…well, I could have easily made this column an Under The Radar entry.

Video for I’m An Adult Now.

Just below is the review of Sex and Food that I wrote almost a decade ago. Please at least start there, but if you trust this good Doctor, you’ll start picking each original release up one by one. Because I know you don’t want any more crappy teen-oriented music from Fergie or the latest fabricated American Idol…you’re an adult now.

 TPOH band

Not with a bang, but with a whimper…how sad that one of the best bands of the past ten years, and one of the best songwriters of the rock era, period, are hanging it up. There’s no room on Boy Band Radio for intelligently crafted pop songs that deal with unrequited love, blind lust, temporary bliss and just plain bad timing. How ironic, then, that their epitaph may boil down to their one certifiable mark on American airwaves, “I’m An Adult Now”.

That’s not their fault. “She’s So Young”, “Two Girls In One”, “Pressing Lips”, “Young And In Love” and “What You Did To My Girl” should have given them a killer single from each record, to be followed up by another two or three. But the last two records (Where’s The Bone and The Wonderful World Of) didn’t even get released in America. The first three are hard-to-find cut outs. Radio ignored them. Ah, shit…a classic case of woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Moe Berg’s self-depreciating but subtly brilliant lyrics, sung in his inimitable style, were always framed on the chorus by the trademark two-part female harmony vocals that the band picked up during sessions with Todd Rundgren. Kris Abbott’s guitar playing was every bit as good as her stunning looks, and Dave Gilby and Johnny Sinclair supplied a bottom end strong enough to float a battleship upon. They rocked like a metal band but could spin pop chestnuts with anyone. In short, they were too damned good to survive.

This collection leans heavily on the first three records and also includes some treats like a live version of “Food” , a demo (“Wake Up And Smell Kathy”), a B-side (“Let My People Go”), an outtake from Love Junk (“Take You With Me”) and a live version of the concert favorite, “Edmonton Block Heater”. Which means when you eventually get all five records – and you will – there are enough rarities to warrant having this one also.

Lots of bands break up and get back together for the money, but I don’t even think there was money on the table for these guys the first time around. In his funny liner notes, Moe bids a fond farewell to the band, but I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him. With Moe Berg the artist feeling disrespected, unwanted and the sting of failure, Moe Berg the songwriter is in his natural element.

Incompletely Conspicuous – the amazing TPOH site.

IC’s breakdown on the track list of Sex And Food.

Amazon link to this CD as well as a live DVD

Video for the subtly disturbing Young And In Love.

Even AllMusic barely recognizes them.

TPOH wiki

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