Bourgeois Tagg/Yoyo

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In casting about for a producer for our 2nd album, our manager mentioned Todd Rundgren, who was living nearby in the Bay Area. Todd was a big influence on our music, and he had just finished producing XTC’s Skylarking, which we loved. That decision was a no-brainer. Now Todd really liked our music, but wasn’t nearly as fond of our lyrics. And he told Larry and I so one day in his Todd-like way.  I went home that night and wrote “Cry Like a Baby.” It was about Todd; and he liked it. I’ve carried the wisdom imparted by Todd to this day about writing from the heart, not the head.

Our biggest song, “I Don’t Mind At All,” is on this album. Lyle Workman came over to my apartment with a cassette one day and asked if I would write to a guitar part he had recorded. As he was leaving, he said, “Oh, and there’s something on the other side, too, if you have time.” The B side was the guitar part to “I Don’t Mind At All.” I don’t remember the A side.

Also on this record is one of my favorites, Larry Tagg’s “Waiting For the Worm To Turn.” Lyle’s guitar parts are great, and Todd’s production is just right. When we were touring in Europe, Island Records in London wanted to make a video of the song, thinking it would be the next single. So we did, but I never saw the results until it showed up on YouTube 25 years later. It’s a little strange, but funny…

Todd liked our band so much we backed him on his Nearly Human album, and Larry, Lyle, and Michael toured with him. (I was off making my first solo record.) But we have remained friends over the years, and so it was natural to ask him to contribute some vocals to the song “Poor Me” on Don’t Look Back. Larry, Michael, and Lyle are also represented together on the song “Psycho,” and Larry and Mike return on “The High Road.”

Below is a picture of an event called “Condommania,” an AIDS-awareness event which we played with Todd in 1987. Todd is dressed in a rubber wading suit, and I have on a necklace of condoms.

Todd with BT

Album Review

This is a fun little record -- and unfortunately the last for this group with hot, catchy songwriting not too over the top with '80s cliché. Clever wordplay is a strong point in their songwriting -- akin to Elvis Costello without all the sarcasm. Not a weak song here -- every song is loaded with smart pop hooks and intelligent lyrics -- the only weak point coming with the use of the name "Frankie" as the character in an otherwise fantastic song "15 Minutes in the Sun." Single "I Don't Mind at All" is very pretty, with syncopated rhythms, string arrangements, and great acoustic guitar work by Lyle Workman. Great closing number -- "Coma" -- has an unexpected, almost transcendental ending. The listener also finds nice percussion work on "What's Wrong With This Picture" -- a sad song about infidelity. One of the finest examples of '80s power pop one is likely to find.
- Mark