Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Fountains Of Wayne’s stunning 1996 eponymous record was scheduled to appear here in about a month, as I’ve been moving chronologically through my favorite debut albums every Saturday and there are still a few releases that preceded this one, but after yesterday’s heartbreaking news that co-founder Adam Schlesinger had passed away at 52 due to COVID-19 complications, I wanted to pay tribute to an amazing songwriter & musician. As I discussed in the third Great Out Of The Gate post five years ago (see below), Fountains Of Wayne was formed around the nucleus of Schlesinger and his songwriting partner/lead vocalist Chris Collingwood. I loved Fountains Of Wayne immediately upon its release, and around the same time I saw the Tom Hanks-directed film That Thing You Do, for which Schlesinger provided the title track. It shows what a knack for instantly memorable melodies he possessed that a song created for a movie project ended up being as good as any pop song ever written. They only released five albums (and a stellar 2-disc compilation of rarities) in a career that lasted for 15 years before they went their separate ways, but every one of them is a master class of melody, harmony, melancholy, whimsy and pure pop perfection. He also found time in 2009 for the one-off supergroup Tinted Windows, with Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos, Smashing Pumpkins’ James Iha and Hanson’s Taylor Hanson, which I highlighted in Part 3 of my One & Done series. As tributes pour in from fans & musicians it’s heartening to know that the music he created is held in such high regard and won’t be forgotten, but that’s little consolation right now.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 3:
There was a thriving power-pop scene in the ‘90s, with dozens of artists following in the footsteps of Big Star, The Raspberries, Cheap Trick and The Knack. Some of them managed to break into the mainstream while others flew just under the radar, and a fine example of the latter is Fountains Of Wayne. In 2003 they achieved huge commercial success with the single “Stacy’s Mom,” but 7 years earlier the songwriting duo of Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood was just an unknown artist signed to a division of Atlantic Records, with little promotion beyond alternative radio. Their self-titled debut blew me away on the first listen with its blend of upbeat melodic rock (“Radiation Vibe,” “Survival Car” and “Sink To The Bottom”) and melancholy pop (“She’s Got A Problem,” “Everything’s Ruined” and “Sick Day”), making a case for themselves as one of the best purveyors of this type of music. This album continues to be my favorite in their impressively consistent discography.
I look forward to hearing from others who have been touched by this album, this band or anything else Adam Schlesinger created, whether you’re a longtime fan or this is the first time you’re hearing them.
Please visit Bruce Jenkins’ Vinyl Connection blog for a stunningly written tribute to Mr. Schlesinger: