Son Of Sam I Am

Too Much Joy

Alias/Giant Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


On their first major release, New York’s Too Much Joy put their stamp on injecting humor into alt rock and made the world a better place because of it.

Originally put out in 1988 on Alias Records and then re-released in 1990 on Giant Records, this disc features songs like “Clowns” and “Makin’ Fun Of Bums” that immediately became classics and late ‘80s alt rock radio staples. Twenty-seven(!) years later, the songs still sound great, fresh and full of funny musings on life. But it’s tracks like the immortal “Connecticut,” my all-time favorite “Kicking (That Gone Fishing Song)” and “Song For A Girl Who Has One” where the band really shines. The vocal chemistry of Tim Quirk, guitarist Jay Blumenfield, and bassist extraordinaire Sandy Smallens is really something to behold and not generally something heard in the modern rock of that era. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And it’s things like this that really makes this material come to life. The production is a little uneven, sounding at times really strong and then really dated, like that crushed ‘80s compressed drum sound that all the bands seemed to have forced upon them. Fortunately, drummer Tommy Vinton rises above it and emerged as one of the best drummers of that era (and the only one who doubled as a New York cop).

What other type of band could be responsible for songs about the Mekons (“If I Were A Mekon”) and a former Gang Of Four drummer (“Hugo!”) The answer is a band that also deconstructs an early LL Cool J jam “That’s A Lie” and turned it into one of their coolest and most smartass songs.

On the 1990 update, aside from “If I Were A Mekon,” the band also did one of the best and almost sincere covers of “Seasons In The Sun” ever heard as well as a throwaway track about Playboy centerfolds, the cleverly titled ‘hidden track’ “Train In Vain.” In this writer’s mind, this is one of the definitive modern rock records of the ‘80s from a band that deserved to be one of the top bands in the pre-Nirvana era. The band went on to make a couple more records and while they came close, they found it difficult to top this masterpiece.

Rating: A

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