Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tommy Stinson 2: Perfect

After the Bash & Pop album was basically ignored, Tommy Stinson gave up on music for a while. After all, if Paul Westerberg couldn’t sell records on his own, how could the guy everyone still thought of as the teenage bass player?
By most accounts he tried working real jobs to support the family he’d left in Minneapolis while he was floundering in L.A., but eventually he made his way back to music, and put together a new band called Perfect. With the support of onetime Replacements manager Peter Jesperson, the band hit the studio and recorded an EP for an offshoot of an indie distributor. When Squirrels Play Chicken is a harmless cross between ‘70s punk and power-pop songsmithing, best exemplified by “Makes Me Happy”, which seems unsure of its key, yet matches Tommy’s freewheeling sense of melody. “Sometimes” is a stomp too slow for Green Day but perhaps more suitable for Bob Mould fans. “Alternative Monkey” is ahead of its time, considering how much it sounds today like Jet or the Strokes. “Miss Self-Esteem” comes closest to Westerberg at his most sensitive, and “Don’t Need To Know Where” revs it up to top speed, with truly explosive drums. The best part of the album is hidden at the end, a joyous thrash through “Crocodile Rock”, truly out of affection.

At 20 minutes, the EP was a nice taster of what could be, and the band went off to record a full-length album with Jim Dickinson, whom Tommy had met way back on Pleased To Meet Me. The album was completed, and promptly shelved by the record company. The tapes eventually ended up seven years later with Rykodisc, who took a chance on it, but not after juggling it and dropping one song. Once, Twice, Three Times A Maybe (an Eddie Murphy reference?) is closer to the straight Bash & Pop sound, but more straightahead rock. He’s still not the best singer, but the songs are well-crafted and arranged. (The title notwithstanding, “Making Of An Asshole” is truly terrific, as is “Peg Song”, the track not released.)
Taken all together, the entire official output of Perfect could be squeezed onto a single CD, which only means a future Record Store Day release will have it all on two records at overblown prices. You heard it here first, folks.

Perfect When Squirrels Play Chicken (1996)—3
Once, Twice, Three Times A Maybe (2004)—3

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