Friday, February 17, 2012

APOLLO 18 - They Might Be Giants

YEAR: 1992

LABEL: Elektra

TRACK LISTING: Dig My Grave, I Palindrome I, She's Actual Size, My Evil Twin, Mammal, The Statue Got Me High, Spider, The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight), Dinner Bell, Narrow Your Eyes, Hall of Heads, Which Describes How You're Feeling, See the Constellation, If I Wasn't Shy, Turn Around, Hypnotist of Ladies, Fingertips 1: Everything Is Catching On Fire, Fingertips 2: Fingertips, Fingertips 3: I Hear the Wind Blow, Fingertips 4: Hey Now Everybody, Fingertips 5: Who's That Standing Out the Window?, Fingertips 6: I Found A New Friend, Fingertips 7: Come On and Wreck My Car, Fingertips 8: Aren't You the Guy Who Hit Me In the Eye?, Fingertips 9: Please Pass the Milk Please, Fingertips 10: Leave Me Alone, Fingertips 11: Who's Knockin' On the Wall?, Fingertips 12: All Alone, Fingertips 13: What's That Blue Thing Doing Here?, Fingertips 14: Somethin' Grabbed Ahold of My Hand, Fingertips 15: I Don't Understand You, Fingertips 16: I Heard A Sound, Fingertips 17: Mysterious Whisper, Fingertips 18: The Day That Love Came To Play, Fingertips 19: I'm Having A Heart Attack, Fingertips 20: Fingertips (Reprise), Fingertips 21: I Walk Along Darkened Corridors, Space Suit

IMPRESSIONS: This is the first album where John and John decided to move away from their earlier sound somewhat and include more traditional rock arrangements. The ridiculously daffy 21-song suite "Fingertips" is full of more pop hooks than some recording artists' entire careers! While the album doesn't contain any major hits ("The Guitar" got modest radio play at the time), APOLLO 18 is a particular fan favourite and has been played in its entirety at TMBG live shows in 2003 and 2008. The bright, sunny ambience of previous albums (most notably "FLOOD") is tinged here with some spooky shadows and a decidedly darker tone which gives the music an added weight. This is a major Sizzler album. At the time, I used to put my boom box on a prep table in the back room and play cds while I was doing food prep; this was in heavy rotation at the time it came out -- along with Boston's first album, the first three Indigo Girls albums, Pearl Jam's TEN, Metallica's black album and many more.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I Palindrome I, She's Actual Size, The Statue Got Me High, Spider, The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight), Dinner Bell, See the Constellation, Turn Around, Fingertips, Space Suit

FACT SHEET: APOLLO 18 is They Might Be Giants' fourth album. The album was named after the Apollo space missions, the last of which was Apollo 17. The song sequence "Fingertips" is a group of 21 song fragments which can be programmed randomly to provide a constantly new and changing song experience; it's possible this was inspired by the Residents' "COMMERCIAL ALBUM" which entirely consists of extremely short songs -- one of which is even entitled "Fingertips". "The Guitar" originated as a jam session of the Tokens song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"; the addition of the original Tokens song in parentheses was at the insistence of the record label due to legal issues. The legend "Musical Ambassadors to International Space Year" appears on the back cover of the cd; this was bestowed on the band by NASA when John Linnell & John Flansburgh were searching the NASA Archive Center for appropriate photos for the album cover and got to know the staff. Since the band would be touring in "International Space Year" 1992, NASA staffers asked them if they'd like to be the "spokesband" for the event.

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