04
Nov
06

Engine 88 flashes back…..and so do I

 

Sometimes I wonder about the earlier influences that helped lead me to to this point, pursuing my PhD in Journalism & Mass Communication.  In effect, making the study of popular music my career choice.  Some key bands immediately come to mind, especially during high school when I went from listening to my older brothers’ CDs to building my own collection.  Engine 88 is one of those bands, and one of the most, if not most, pivotal bands in the development of music becoming an integral part of my life.

They were the first band that put me on a guest list, that I met in person, and who I managed to see play two legendary D.C. venues: the old Black Cat and 9:30 Club in Washington (all in high school!).   I remember they contacted me before one of the D.C. shows, via e-mail from their van (they were also early adoptors) while headed to D.C.  I later wrote my most in-depth college newspaper article for The Daily Illini on the eve of their performance at the now defunct Blind Pig in Champaign, Illinois.     They performed with Jawbox and Nada Surf.  What a lineup.   J. Robbins of Jawbox (and Dischord Records) told me that night that my article on E88 was as good as anything in Rolling Stone or any other music mag…and he swore he meant it.  Surreal.  I’ll never forget that evening.  Following that show, lead singer Tom Barnes would mail me a record of his former band, Sordid Humor’s debut LP, “Tony Don’t.”

In years of exchanging e-mails, mostly with bassist Eric Knight, I was treated more as a PhD student than a high school student, who was still pretty clueless to music, culture, politics–you name it. 

So, color me bewildered and very pleasantly surprised when I happened to come across the band’s page at Wikipedia and read that the band had just gotten back together for a show celebrating the new book release of SF-based music photojouranlist Peter Ellenby (see pic above) a couple of weeks ago.   I had heard a month ago or so about the release party for Ellenby, but not that SF’s finest were going to reunite for their first show in YEARS.

It’s late/early here, so I won’t even begin to explain their music, lyrics, or why I think they’re great.   And, it’s not like you want to read all of that either!  However, I will link a song from the band’s website that captures their sound pretty well, somewhere between the feverish, pulsating of earlier “Funny Car”-material to their more polished, crafted, and occasionally slower later tunes. 

And, yeah, over the holidays it will be time to retrieve their early, self-released 7-inch records at my parents house.  Engine 88, thanks for the memories.

Engine 88: (link to band’s site)

Song link: Manuel, You Know

Reunion performance from the Bottom of the Hill!  Check out their last song (before encore), and my favorite, “Man Club” at 26:50 in….

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8 Responses to “Engine 88 flashes back…..and so do I”


  1. 1 Dave
    November 4, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    Awesome story! It wouldn’t surprise me that anyone would compare your writing to anything in those major music mags. I think though these days I’d hate to hear my name in the same sentence with Rolling Stone. What happened to that mag? Or did I just get more picky? Perhaps the latter. Very cool you witnessed Nada Surf way back when too. You know how we feel about them…

  2. November 5, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    There’s nothing like remembering a nostalgic band from back in the day. It’s amazing how some songs from those times can immediately bring you back into that era again. Didn’t you have an Engine 88 poster hanging in your bedroom at Chalmers Manor in Champaign?

  3. November 22, 2006 at 12:14 am

    I was a fun and very weird show, sorry you missed it!
    Keep in touch!

  4. 4 Libby
    December 12, 2006 at 10:52 am

    ha Joe. I found it.
    -Libby

  5. 5 Marissa
    December 12, 2006 at 11:20 am

    haha I found it!

  6. 6 Dave
    December 13, 2006 at 9:58 pm

    Hook me up with Libby and Marissa’s MySpace!

  7. 7 Joe
    December 13, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    watch it there…they’re my students. and, yes, a monster post(s) is/are coming…i have just one paper left in my graduate career!

  8. 8 Adam
    February 13, 2007 at 1:07 am

    found ya. :]


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