As I was combing through the archives looking for a long forgotten band to feature, I came across my two Ned’s Atomic Dustbin CDs. If you’ve never heard of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin you are not alone. They were popular in the UK mostly between 1990 and 1993. Over here in the good ol’ US of A they were played on Alternative Rock stations like WFNX Lynn-Boston here in the Northeast. It’s almost like they were somewhat of a buzz band. They never seemed to actually establish their own sound and identity, but when I think back on that precious era of The Reading/Manchester sound vs The Grunge of Seattle, I think what we all liked best about them was that they sounded like all the other bands at that time. I don’t mean to denigrate NAD or anyone else, but it seemed like if you were listening to Oasis, Blur, Electronic, Happy Mondays, The London Suede, what was left of New Order, Inspiral Carpets, The Stone Roses, Depeche Mode, The Chameleons UK, The Charlatans UK, Joy Division, The La’s, Pavement, Jesus Jones, The Smiths, The Durutti Column or The Fall, as I was, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin found its way into your CD collection. In those days, as I’ve said more than once here, I was into making mixed tapes for the beach or house parties. If a band showed me something, like Smashing Pumpkins did on 1991′s Gish, I would steal a few tracks, throw it on the pile and move on to the next great sound. I was buying CDs at the rate of roughly 115 per year in those days (or so says my software). Many of them were used and bought out of calendar year, so to speak, but that gives you an idea of my cosumption rate. It was ferocious. Not much has changed I’m afraid, all these years later, but getting to every last track on some of these CDs can be a pipe dream. I had to relearn my Ned’s Atomic Dustbin CDs this past week. It’s kind of amazing, but you can throw an old record in front of me to this day and if I’ve handled it at all, I can pick out the three to five tracks that either were played on the radio or should have been. Such was the case when I grabbed my two Ned’s Atomic Dustbin CDs the other day. And no, I didn’t play every song to figure it out first.
The NAD story, according to our good friends a Wikipedia, began in 1987 or so in an English town called Stourbridge. Taking their name from the name of an episode on The Goon Show, apparently a comedy show broadcast by the BBC, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin set itself apart by employing two bass players. You don’t see that much anymore that’s for sure. I guess I will have to apologize for suggesting these guys didn’t have their own sound, but as you can tell I’m not a musician. I didn’t notice they had two bass players. Some Rock Critic I am huh? I’m no Rock Critic to be sure. I just know what I like and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin passed my smell test. Have I reached for 1991′s God Fodder in fifteen years? Probably not, but when I played “Grey Cell Green” to refresh my memory it all came rushing back. I gravitated to “Happy” right away thinking I was either confusing it with a song (or album) by Public Image Limited or I knew the track. I knew the track. It was a good one. Still, the early 90′s whistled by an awful lot music fans. The radical change from stuff like Sinead O’Connor, Big Audio Dynamite and a lot of the dance rock music that dotted the late 80′s morphed into Ecstacy fueled house to Grunge so fast it made your head spin. Personally I love it. I know you all think I’m Classic Rock mad, but I’ve always been interested in the trends in music. To me, Popular Music is Top 40. I outgrew Top 40 in 1969. Give or take massive hits like “The Macarena” or “Like a Virgin” or “Oops, I Did It Again” I frequently don’t hear a note of really famous artists. Mariah Carey is one. Alicia Keys is another. Nora Jones would be another. I see the names on the charts, but that stuff isn’t for me. R&B for me is Al Green, Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye. I’m not a snob about it, but I just don’t groove in bars that play that stuff exclusively. To that crowd, Journey’s ”Don’t Stop Believing” or Bon Jovi’s ”Livin’ On a Prayer” are rock songs. Ah, no. I cringe when I hear those tunes coming. That doesn’t make me right, but it is my opinion. And for the record give me Journey over Bon Jovi. Not that there’s much of a decision to be made there.
I guess the point I started trying to make here is that Ned’s Atomic Dustbin never really got over the hump. They were good, very good, but not really great. I hear tell they are reunited these days. That is cool. I hope they do well. I never even made it to their third major label release called BrianBloodVolume in 1995. After 1992′s Are You Normal? had at least one radio friendly track in “Not Sleeping Around,” but it took NAD another three years to put out another record. By then Pearl Jam ruled the world, Nirvana had come and gone and life had changed. The Neds and their skateboarding, crowd surfing, slacker audience were old news. As I read more of their Wikipedia entry just now there are more comments about their sound being something totally different. I guess I didn’t hear it that way when they were being played on the radio. I liked their sound, no doubt, but I didn’t consider it to be anything that unusual. Maybe I should re-consider, but not just yet. I’ll have to bring them to work with me tomorrow and listen in the car. In any event I just felt like talking about The Neds today leaving you with some of their music. I hope they are in the process of making more great records. I might have to go back and find BrianBloodVolume and look into their new stuff if I hear something I like. I’m not above being wrong…again…enjoy. And try not to think about their Bay City Rollers cover.
Buy or Download Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s God Fodder From Amazon here.