To be considered a favorite album I have to consider several things. Can I listen to it from start to finish without skipping a track? Do the songs have any meaning to me? Does the music conjure up specific emotions? Is it tied to a defining period of my life? I’d like to think that all the albums I’ve placed in my all time favorite albums list consist of one or more of these things. One thing I can say for certain is that all the albums in my top ten check off all those marks.
Matthew Good Band’s ‘Underdogs’ was introduced to me by the Canadian music television station called ‘Much Music’ (now know simply as Much) in the late nineties. The video for ‘Apparitions’ played in the background while I was doing some this or that and it completely caught my attention. It was one of those rare songs that I immediately loved. I somehow missed the flash of text at the end of the video with the name of the song and the band, so I went quite some time not knowing who performed it. I sat glued to that channel for weeks trying to catch it again. When I finally did learn the name of the band, I was hit with another road block. This Canadian band did not have a distributor in the United States. At this point in time, I did not have the internet so I wasn’t able to order an import. I went to the various record stores in town and none of them could order it for me.
But I was on a mission to find this album!
A year or so later I had the opportunity to take my first trip to New York City with a few friends. While spending the week there, one of them mentioned taking a trip up to Niagara Falls. Everyone jumped at the chance, but my immediate thought was, “CANADIAN RECORD STORE!” It was also my first (and thus far, only) time to visit another country. (Simpler times, when you could cross the border showing only your drivers license.)
After we were finished ogling over the beautiful falls we hailed a Taxi. Our first stop was the local mall. The mall’s aesthetic was like a seventies time warp. So, of course, I was in love. The one and only record store in the mall had a Matthew Good Band CD in stock, but it was unfortunately the wrong one. I bought it anyway. It was their first album, ‘Last of the Ghetto Astronauts.’ It’s an okay CD with a few good songs, but it didn’t have that ONE song I was after, so I was in a state of disappointment.
We called for another Taxi and it turned out to be the same friendly face that brought us to the Mall. We told him we were trying to track down a specific CD. He asked where we were from and when we told him Arkansas he was astonished, thinking that we drove all the way to the border to simply buy a CD. None of us wanted to correct him. The thought was just too hilarious. Then he suggested we try Wal-Mart. We all looked at each other bewildered that we hadn’t even thought of that.
It’s a good thing that Canada had Wal-Marts because it was there that we found the CD. And they converted United States currency at the register with no hassle! I was on top of the world. On the drive back to NYC everyone else took a nap while I drove in bliss, a huge grin on my face, with Apparitions playing softly on the car stereo.
The experience alone of finding this album solidifies it’s spot on my best of list. A bonus is that, a handful of decades later, I can still push play on ‘Deep Six’ and make it all the way to ‘Change Of Season’ without skipping a single second. I still know most of the words. There are a handful of songs here that will, for the rest of my life, be on every playlist I make. Gems like ‘Prime Time Deliverance’, ‘Indestructible’, ‘Everything Is Automatic’, or ‘Strangest One Of All’ are singles that would make a purchase of an otherwise mediocre album completely worth it.
If you get a chance, give it a shot. With our modern internet technology you won’t even have to drive across the country to get your hands on a copy! And if you like it, check out their entire discography as well as Matthew Good’s solo albums. He is a consistently good singer/songwriter and well worth the listen.