“It’s hard to overstate how big a deal REM were in the cool world when they first hit, except maybe to say, everything about them was punk … except their sound. They did it their way, Michael Stipe resplendently inarticulate, the other guys jangling along with deceptive power, reminding us that there was way more to music than all the godawful corporate radio crap we hated and and/or punk’s necessary vomit. Which was the key, I guess. So much beautiful and mysterious stuff between those extremes that wanted exploring. All that passion. And yet, I don’t think REM ever really topped that first album, Murmur. They’d never be that essential again, even as their sound got sharper, tighter, and Mr. Stipe stooped to enunciating, even making sense eventually. That got boring eventually.” (Philip Random)
“Translator are one of those bands that time seems to have mostly forgotten. Which is a pity because their first album in particular is well worth forty minutes of anyone’s life. And Everywhere That I’m Not is pretty much perfect, the kind of pop nugget that shoulda-woulda-coulda been huge if the music biz of 1982 actually cared about quality, which it didn’t. I guess the cocaine was just too pure in those days.” (Philip Random)
Track one, side one of the first Guadalcanal Diary album is pumped up, countrified fun. Philip Random is pretty sure it’s about a movie he saw as a little kid. “Something to do with American cowboys going to the Congo (or wherever), killing natives, other fun stuff. By which I mean, horrific. Which unfortunately was pretty standard in my early days of TV watching (the 1960s). White men killing non-white men, served up as rousing adventure. Anyway. Great song from a highly overlooked jangle-pop outfit.” (Philip Random)
Miracle Legion came our way in 1984 amid the so-called jangle pop resurgence that followed REM’s initial breakthrough. Suddenly it was okay, cool even, for guitars to sound nice again, melodies sweet. In the case of The Backyard, that meant a tight, driving bit of melancholy about early childhood, a time when your whole world was your backyard, but even that could break your heart.
“Guadalcanal Diary generally got compared to REM back in the day, because they were also from Georgia and their guitars had a tendency to jangle. But their songs always felt more direct to me, less concerned with being Art, with melodies that tended to get stuck in your head for days afterward. Their first release, In The Shadow Of The Big Man, was jammed with such stuff.” (Philip Random)