KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Thurs-debut – FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE “FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE”

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:
https://vinylconnection.com.au/2020/04/02/troubled-times/

30 comments on “Thurs-debut – FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE “FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE”

  1. 80smetalman
    April 2, 2020

    I was in a musical void in the 90s for reasons I won’t go into so I didn’t experience Fountains of Wayne until “Stacy’s Mom.” I do have two of the three tracks you feature here, “Sick Day” being the odd one out, on compilation albums. So, I will give this album a go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aphoristical
    April 2, 2020

    We talked about this on my blog, but I think Utopia Parkway is even better – kind of takes the straightforward power pop of the debut in some interesting directions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vinyl Connection
      April 2, 2020

      I used to oscillate between Utopia Parkway and the s/t debut as favourite. I think I may have landed on the first one, but perhaps because there is a bit more melancholy in the grooves, which kind of fits the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I completely agree about the melancholy that permeates a lot of the debut, which is what sets it apart for me. I love the follow-up and just about everything else they released, but nothing had the kind of emotional impact on me that the debut did.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vinyl Connection
        April 3, 2020

        Yep.

        Like

    • I love Utopia Parkway but it’s not quite as strong as the debut, which I see as much more diverse than just straight-forward power-pop. There’s a melancholy vibe on a lot of songs that evokes a more emotional connection for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. christiansmusicmusings
    April 2, 2020

    I had only known “Stacey’s Mom” and “That Thing You Do” and like both. The tunes you highlighted here sound pretty good as well.

    Like

    • There are plenty of great power pop groups to explore, and FoW is certainly among the greatest. So if you’re ever craving that type of music I highly recommend their whole discography.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vinyl Connection
    April 2, 2020

    Really neat précis, Rich (as always). Responding to your comment on my tribute, I wondered whether you were onto Tinted Windows. Silly question! But great to find another who knows and likes that obscurity.

    Thanks also for the shoutout.

    Like

    • Hopefully some of my readers will click on the link to your post and discover even more great music from FoW and Mr. Schlesinger, including that wonderful Tinted Windows record.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Paul
    April 2, 2020

    I also only discovered FOW with welcome interstate manager and Stacy’s mom but then Went back and discovered their previous work and loved it all – was one of my favorite bands. On this debut my favorite was leave the biker – just a really sweet sentiment with some hilarious lyrics.

    Like

    • Glad you enjoyed Welcome Interstate Managers enough to dive into their previous releases. “Leave The Biker” is a fun song…one of many on the debut. I’ve read that the two of them came up with silly song titles first and then wrote songs around them, which is an interesting songwriting method.

      Like

      • Paul
        April 3, 2020

        Wow hadn’t heard that – all the more impressive in some ways.

        Like

      • And they were either drunk or stoned when they came up with some of the titles, which amps up the “impressive” factor.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul
        April 3, 2020

        I always thought bright futures in sales had to have come from personal experience. 😀

        Like

      • If it’s not autobiographical it must have been based on a true story of someone they were close with. Love that song.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Paul
    April 2, 2020

    And I never knew where the band’s name came from until I saw that episode of the sopranos where it was featured. 😀

    Like

    • I don’t remember a specific mention of Fountains Of Wayne, NJ on The Sopranos, but I already knew about that place having grown up in New York and attended college in New Jersey.

      Like

      • Paul
        April 3, 2020

        I don’t remember what season or episode but I remember Tony visiting it for a “meeting” or something like that

        Like

      • I wonder how many fans took pictures in front of the place. Must have gotten annoying for the owners, as I can’t imagine many fans stopping in to buy a fountain.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul
        April 3, 2020

        Yes totally agree

        Liked by 1 person

  7. stephen1001
    April 3, 2020

    Well said about That thing you do, a practically perfect pop tune

    Like

    • Thanks, Geoff. The song is perfect and the way it was used in the movie you never get tired of it. I believe multiple songwriters submitted potential title tracks and his was the clear favorite. I seem to remember Dwight Twilley including his song with that title on a compilation, but never heard who else was turned down.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bill P
    April 3, 2020

    Before listening to your videos, I would have been like a few others above in only knowing “Stacy’s Mom” and “That Thing You Do.” I was surprised then to remember “Radiation Vibe,” not having heard it for so many years when it was in fact a staple on alternative radio in the late 90s. I liked it then and still do now.

    Thanks for taking the moment to recognize Adam Schlesinger and his contributions to our culture. This whole COVID pandemic is full of heart-wrenching stories of loss; many of the victims don’t have the same level of notability as Adam but their tragic loss still diminishes us (to loosely invoke John Donne). Thankful to be a part of this community you’ve established here and send well wishes to all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think because “Radiation Vibe” was a one-off alternative “hit” and wasn’t immediately followed up by others, a lot of people never knew who the band was. I’m glad they eventually had an actually hit single with “Stacy’s Mom,” but there are so many classics in their discography which should have been hugely successful.

      I’m also glad we have this blogging community to continue sharing our love of music, which is always a positive but never more so than during dark times. I hope you & your loved ones are well, and stay that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Alyson
    April 4, 2020

    Stacey’s Mom was one of my daughters first CD singles so really only knew of them because of it – and the video featuring the lovely Rachel Hunter – so had no idea how well-loved they were. Always sad when we hear of the death of one of our musical heroes but this one, right now, more distressing because of the cause. I can’t be alone in thinking there might be more.

    Hope you’re safe and well – Keep on blogging.

    Like

    • I’m glad Fountains Of Wayne made an impact on your daughter and was successful on your side of the pond. They were never a huge act but with “Stacy’s Mom” they got a lot of mainstream exposure which was well deserved.

      Sad to say I agree with you regarding the loss of our musical heroes and the likelihood that some unexpected names might be claimed by this virus. If there’s any positive to be found it’s that new people will be exposed to some great music. Isn’t that always the case when we lose an artist?

      Staying safe & healthy here. Other than concerns about my elderly parents (which of course are major concerns) we’re very fortunate. Sending good wishes your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Satur-debut – CANDY BUTCHERS “CANDY BUTCHERS (THE BLUE THUMB ALBUM)” | KamerTunesBlog

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