Hick-Pop From Good Homes

Originally posted August 24, 2009

Not quite a year ago, I wrote about finding a CD called From Good Homes on a bookstore’s clearance shelves during the year or so the Texas Gal and I lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Plymouth. Intrigued by the rootsy, sometimes bluesy, pop of the band, also called From Good Homes, I looked closely at the clearance shelves the next time I was in the store, and found another CD by the group, Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! If anything, I liked it better.

I’ve never dug deeply into the catalog of the Dave Matthews Band for some reason, but what I have heard – generally on radio – I’ve liked. And I’ve found the music of From Good Homes reminding me a little – sometimes more, sometimes less – of what I’ve heard of the Dave Matthews Band. (The DMB has long been on a list of groups and artists that I want to explore further; given the length of that list, I’m not sure when that exploration will begin.)

It turns out that Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! was From Good Homes’ first album, released in 1993 on the GRRrrrr label. The band then got a deal with RCA and released two CDs: Open up the Sky in 1995 and From Good Homes in 1998 before calling it quits in 1999. (A CD of highlights of the band’s last performance in 1999 was released in 2002 as Take Enough Home.)

I’ve found myself listening to From Good Homes quite a bit lately. A month or so ago, the Texas Gal and I moved some stuff around and wound up putting a CD player in a room where there hadn’t been one previously. I spend a fair amount of time there, so I’ve begun listening to full CDs more than I had in a while, and I’ve dug through the CD collection to find stuff I want to know better. The two CDs by From Good Homes ended up on that list, as did The Living Daylights, which I offered here recently.

And the more I listen to Hick-Pop, the more I like it. It’s maybe a little less polished than From Good Homes, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing at all. A few rough edges on the rootsy sound of the band makes the music better, I think. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Here’s part of what JT Griffith of All-Music Guide said about Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya!

“The ten tracks here are the loosest and most inspired of the band’s albums . . .  ‘Drivin’ and Cryin’” is a fast and furious song that any fan of Allgood and Rusted Root will find instantly familiar (and easy to dance to). Critics get apoplectic when Dave Matthews reigns in his jamming sensibilities and records a tight, song-oriented album. From Good Homes did the same thing with this underappreciated album of great pop songs that lent themselves to awesome live jams – in 1993! . . . The real shame is that Hick-Pop Comin’ at Ya! is an out of print, self-released CD from 1993 by a band few know about.”

The highlights for me? “Drivin’ and Cryin’” is a great opener, seeming to shift gears several times as it rolls along. “Suzanna Walker” is a good story song (and one that the band likely could jam with when it played live). But my favorites are “Here Comes the Rain” with its saxophone riff, its celebratory sound and its enigmatic, slightly disturbing lyrics; and the melancholy “Scudder’s Lane,” with its harmonica and its sad tale:

Scudder’s Lane

me and lisa used to run thru the night
thru the fields off scudder’s lane
we’d lay down and look up at the sky
and feel the breeze, thru the trees

and I’d often wonder
how long would it take
to ride or fly to the dipper in the sky

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

I stayed with my love lisa
thru the darkness of her days
she walked into the face of horror
and I followed in her wake
and I often wonder
how much does it take
’til you’ve given all the love
That’s in your heart
and there’s nothing in its place

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

i’m afraid of the momentum
that can take you to the edge of a cliff
where you look out and see nothing
and you ask
it that all there is

still I drove back out of hainesville
and I asked myself again will there ever come a day
when you drive back home to stay
could you ever settle down and be a happy man
in one of the houses that they’re building thru the fields
off scudder’s lane

Tracks
Drivin’ and Cryin’
Here Comes the Rain
Suzanna Walker
I’m Your Man
Way Down Inside
The Old Man and the Land
Comin On Home
Black Elk Speaks
Scudder’s Lane
Maybe We Will

Note: From Good Homes has a website, The Fruitful Acre, with a link to an archival site; the current site seems not to have been updated for some time. Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! and From Good Homes seem to be out of print, as are Open Up The Sky from 1995 and Take Enough Home from 2002. The latter two albums, however, are available as downloads through iTunes, and CDs of Take Enough Home and Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! can be ordered at the From Good Homes website. If you like what you hear, go buy the CD!

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