Saturday, March 14, 2009

Albums I Am Addicted To

Filter - "Title Of Record"

This one is less an album I am currently addicted to than one I decided to rediscover. You see, this album was basically the soundtrack to my pre-senior year at THE Towson University (I did 4 1/2 years worth of college so I had another half year after this one). I got it when it came out in 1999 and pretty much drove my roommates crazy listening to it. I loved Filter's first record, 1995's "Short Bus" (which had their biggest hit "Hey Man Nice Shot") and that came out during my junior year of high school. I'd be a senior in college by the time they released another record so I was pretty stoked.

Needless to say, "Title Of Record" didn't disappoint. First off, it was one of the best album titles you could think of. I'm not sure why I think that but it just is. Me and fellow film student Greg "Snake" Maki (dude's in this blog more than I am) took our enjoyment of the album and its title to absurd extremes. Our first film project, we had to film a haiku (don't let anyone tell you film school is not pretentious at times), which we called "Title Of Haiku." Next, we had to film a documentary, which we called "Title Of Documentary." Then our final project was a short film, which we of course called "Title Of Film" (and was based on the making of "Title Of Haiku." We were maybe a bit too clever for our own good.)

I loved the album for about a year and then sort of forgot about it. I had it in the CD collection but didn't really listen to it. Then last night, on the way back from seeing "Watchmen," I heard "Hey Man Nice Shot" on the radio and when I got back to my car I decided to pop in "Title Of Record" just for fun. Of course, some of the old college memories came back strong: thinking up the goofy movie titles, holding up my beer everytime Filter frontman Richard Patrick said the lines "You're celebrating nothing/And you feel/A-OK/You Get yourself a nice cold beer/And drink yourself away" in the song "Welcome To The Fold" and listening to the album while playing All-Star Baseball for N64 (swatting homeruns left and right with the likes of Harold Baines and Albert Belle).

But listening to it now, the thing I think of is: how in the world did these guys not become bigger stars? You listen to "Title Of Record" now and hear a lot of songs that could have been huge on the radio. "Take A Picture" was the big hit (the best ballad about being drunk on an airplane ever written) but songs like "Welcome To The Fold," "I Will Lead You," "Captain Bligh" (supposedly about Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor) and "The Best Things" all could have been huge hits on modern rock radio. Listen to "Skinny." How did that not become a big hit single? Filter, along with Local H and Monster Magnet are three bands that I will never understand how they didn't become huge.

Why didn't Filter become huge mainstream stars? I guess productivity could be a reason. They've released four albums in a 14 year career. Thats a good average if you're James Joyce. If they were more productive, could they have had, say, Nickelback's career? How is a solid band like Filter a two-hit wonder, while the irony-deficient Nickleback has had 10 hits? Like William Goldman said, "Nobody knows anything."

So how does the record hold up, aside from the sentimental value? Very well thank you. "Welcome To The Fold" is a kick-ass opening jam, although I have no idea what Patrick is talking about when he sings "Mama give me my medicine that makes me feel like a tall tree." "The Best Things" is a great driving song. The back-to-back "Take A Picture" and "Skinny" were destined to be "lighters in the air" anthems in big hockey arenas, as was "I'm Not The Only One."

Things don't always work out in life. People take their shot and miss. Hearing "Title Of Record" now is to hear a band doing exactly that. Too bad. It should have been a contender.

(For a sample, here's a live clip of "Welcome To The Fold"_

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