Friday, July 23, 2010

The Real Underground

Tommy Keene was dropped by Geffen shortly after the release (and subsequent non-promotion) of Based On Happy Times, but resurfaced a few years later with a new band (Brad Richardson on bass and John Quinn on drums) and put out an EP called Sleeping On A Rollercoaster on Matador Records.

A few months later, Alias put out a Tommy Keene compilation called The Real Underground, which featured a song called "Sleeping on a Rollercoaster", which was apparently an outtake from the EP. It was a heady time to be a Tommy Keene fan, with back to back releases after many years of no activity.

The Rollercoaster ep was pretty good, but I think The Real Underground is one of the best collections ever. It's kind of a hodgepodge of early EPs and later unreleased tracks, without anything from Strange Alliance or the Geffen era. It was similar to Game Theory's Distortion Of Glory that came out around the same time on the same label, and it was the one release that turned me into a dyed in the wool Tommy Keene fan.

Tommy and his new band did a tour to promote The Real Underground, which was my first opportunity to see him live. It was an under-promoted show on a weeknight in front of 20-30 true believers at SF's Bottom of the Hill, but Tommy and his band still rocked the roof off the place -- playing old songs from the 80s, songs from the EP, and new songs that they hadn't released yet. And since they were playing San Francisco, they closed with this song.

That show was my first exposure to "the pop underground", and it was stunning to discover in the pre-net era that there were other people in my own community who knew all the words to "Shake Some Action". I later found global communities of people like me, thanks to the internet.

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