In 1991, I spent a lot of time listening to the Crash Test Dummies album ‘The Ghosts That Haunt Me.’ I know this because it’s probably been at least 18 years since I last listened to the album, but I know all the lyrics to the title track (despite forgetting it existed until it started playing).
I also know I spent a lot of time listening to it because I have a nearly perfect Brad Roberts impression down when I sing along. Perhaps because I honed it during those years in the early 90s, trying to impress my friends while imitating the unique voice of CTD’s lead vocalist.
Something that came to mind upon rediscovering this album: they were pretty ahead of their time. At a point in my life when I was just passing my NKOTB and Tiffany phase (…don’t mock me…) and was listening to Public Enemy and the emerging hip hop scene, I became obsessed with what would today be called an alt-folk or alt-country. There were banjos, mandolins, catchy tunes…essentially, what you hear sneaking onto rock radio today.
In fact, some of these tracks would sound quite at home sandwiched between Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men.
Most people remember Superman’s Song, but the title track and Comin’ Back Soon really grabbed me more. And who can forget that they released a single called Androgynous about…well, Androgyny…originally by The Replacements, an American punk band, on what is essentially a country album…and it got played on pop radio…
While discussing ‘Canadiana’ yesterday with recent BCCMA winning group The Matinee we went through a list of bands and artists we consider to be Canadiana – from Neil Young to Elliot Brood. The Dummies passed through my mind for a second, but I didn’t bring them up. Listening to ‘The Ghosts That Haunt Me’…I don’t know why I did that. This album is the epitome of Canadiana. And was widely successful.
Why is it that a band so huge in the early 90s doesn’t even get mentioned today in a conversation about the genre they really helped to develop for the modern times?
Maybe this blog will help change that!