Friday, March 04, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 217 Too Much Joy - Son of Sam I Am

By: March

Album - Son of Sam I Am
Artist - Too Much Joy
Key Players - Tommy Vinton - drums. Sandy Smallens - bass and vocals. Jay Blumenfield - guitar, vocals. Tim Quirk - vocals
Produced By - Michael James

Release Date - 1989

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- I have been meaning to do this record, then I'll forget about it, then I'll remember...well this week I remembered.

Overview - This is the bands major label debut. Hailing from New York this foursome were embraced by the college music sect with their fun pop rock sensibilities. They'd write a few records, tour, get arrested while supporting 2Live Crew and go on "hiatus". They last performed as a band in 2007.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The albums opens up with some sample and "Making Fun of Bums" opens right up. The guitars and bass pop off the speakers and Vinton hammers out a quick tempo. The three singers adds a great, fun pop sound to all the tracks. Blumenfields guitar runs are quick and he will then chop the riffs right back at the right time. The track follows a pretty standard rock tempo and the lyrics are fun and funny. "Song for a Girl Who Has One" showcases the bass work from Smallens. Once again the vocals are really strong with high harmonies washing over each other. The band really shines vocally. Sure the tracks have an indie pop feel, but this is the same sort of campy rock the late 90's took over. The track has an extended harmonica portion as well, but it is not the showcased instrument until it plays the song out. On the track "Clowns" the band sings about how people are scared of them. They sing "I have yet to meet a person not afraid of clowns" and "clowns were all the bosses they had and record companies that said we're bad"). Smallens and Vinton really lock in on this track and the lyrics will have you cracking a smile. There are great acoustic guitar runs as the band sings harmonies and the bass still chugs along underneath. Great track. Vinton has the big drum intro as the guitar and bass ring out chords and "My Past Lives". Quirk seems to speak the first verse talking about all the people he was in past lives. What stands out is the music coming from the band, it really stands on its own. As the chorus comes the band gets a lot more urgent and once again having three guys singing really works for the band. The tracks continue to be quick and "That's a Lie" rumbles off the speakers. The vocals are little more pushed but still the band plays off one another very well. The harmonica returns and Quirk tells you "that's me playing harmonica" (a lie..get it?). "Hugo!" is the first track where the acoustic guitar seems to be a more prominent instrument. Smallens continues to shine on bass. Tracks like "Kicking (The Gone Fishing Song)" and "Life is Flowers" are keep the fun meter high with great big riffs and really great harmonies. I say this a lot, but its really true. This band has been horribly overlooked for what they had done. The track "Connecticut" has a real funk bass intro with off tempos tossed by Vinton. It sounds complex compared to what the band had done before this. The band sings "come on down to the edge of the woods" but Connecticut is the real title. It even samples "In a Big Country" at one point. After the sample Blumenfield gets a guitar solo but Vinton and Smallens battle one another for the funk. "Bad Dog" has the second guitar solo in as many songs and the jangly guitar continues in "1964". What still really stands out is how heavy the bass is in the mix. I don't ever recall paying this much to the bass work on the album, but its great stuff! "Worse" continues the love of the bass. Smallens gets big punchy notes whole Blumenfield and Vinton forward. Quirk always keeps the vocals on task but Smallens and Blumenfield add harmonies and call and responses almost constantly. "Seasons in the Sun" is a cover of the Terry Jacks tune done a little faster and heavier. The band shows their love to the band "The Mekons" on the track "If I was a Mekon" yet another pop/rock anthem. The album closes with "Train in Vain". It is not a cover tune. It is a piano ballad but the band sings about masturbating so it takes a fall less serious turn right away.

Where are they now?
- Vinton worked for the New York police department. Smallens works as an executive in the music business (radio). Jay works in production for TV an music and Tim is an executive with Rhapsody. (Just a note some of the info I have found is a few years old..I'll update if I find better stuff..or please comment!)

You can read the band's take on the royalty issue here.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I did see the band twice. The first time, which I don't have a stub for but I know it was at TT The Bears and they played with Boston band "Letters to Cleo". Tim had a bondage mask on for the first few songs. He had bought it earlier in the day just down the street. They were just a blast live. The second time was February 25, 1995 at the Paradise. The band again was really strong and just crazy on stage.

FDF Overall Take - At the time I stumbled upon this record. I was working at a local record store and this came in as a promo copy. My boss (the owner) didn't care for it and due to some language it was hard to play in store. All that aside when I listen to this again today its a perfect blend of pop, punk, and just fun rock and roll. The band is tight and all of them are strong musicians. This is a real gem of a record, fun to dust off for sure.

The bands page is right here, as well as a terrific fan page here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3's have been taken down.

My Past Lives
Song for A Girl Who Has One

If you do want to buy a record of theirs, use their web site to get the stuff, so they get the money. Do so right here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have been looking for "my past lives" forever, was never sure who the band was.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

you are very welcome Annon! Hope you'll come around again!

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous eeyore19 said...

I completely agree with you about TMJ being "horribly overlooked". If any band deserved to have been bigger, it was these guys. "Son of Sam I Am" still remains one of my favorite albums.

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was my first ever CD!

At 8:27 PM, Blogger crookedtimber31 said...

yeah this band is one of my favorites, I have all of their albums except their Live one, I'm been looking for the Clown song with the intro forever...


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