The Cool New Music Chronicles: Gene Pool of the Damned

GENE POOL OF THE DAMNED (December, 1988)


I returned to New Orleans and began to stagnate. I had a job working for Orleans Sea Food Company, dating nobody, and falling back on previous habits, such as hanging out on computer BBS systems again. I orbited the same circle of friends before (even attempting to become friends with Merlin again, which ultimately didn’t take) and although many of them had now moved on to somewhat different things, not a whole lot had changed for everyone. It was a strange part of my life, actually, very aimless, and I’m not sure what I was trying to accomplish. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself, so I just kind of floated around.

For some reason there was a lot of high sexual strangeness going on (none of it affecting me). There’s no need to name names here, but a lot of the people I knew now seemed to be involved in various intricate and unsettling permutations with one another. (And let’s be frank here, it’s not like I was missing a lot of this by choice…not my choice, at least.) I was constantly getting second- and third-hand reports of the latest doings and trysts. The whole thing was very odd and soap-opera-ish because in addition to all the screwing, there were all these weird petty jealousies and such going on.

The only issue of my own I had during all this was a brief fling with a girl named Beth who I met through Christine (now living near St. Louis). They visited New Orleans and I hooked up with Beth during that time. Eventually I flew out there to spend a week with her and wasn’t off the plane fifteen minutes before getting to meet Beth’s new boyfriend.

To back up a little, though, when I was going to USL, my trips back and forth to New Orleans often included a pit stop to give Liz a ride to/from home. Liz was one of the gang with Katie and Charlyn, and was now going to LSU. I ended up palling with her and her friends there, including Michelle, who I got kind of sweet on. During this time I started to head up to LSU on weekends to hang out there, and started to consider staying up there for good.

Rob told me that such plans were futile, that a change in location would not help me, but by December I didn’t care. I had to get out of New Orleans, away from these people. I had had enough of all of it and I headed for Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University and I never looked back (much).

  1. Colourbox – Hot Doggie
  2. The The – Slow Train To Dawn
  3. R.E.M. – Exhuming McCarthy
  4. Deacon Blue – Raintown
  5. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sidewalking
  6. The Cure – Catch
  7. Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
  8. Morrissey – Hairdresser On Fire
  9. Guadalcanal Diary – Litany (Life Goes On)
  10. 10,000 Maniacs – Don’t Talk
  11. The Mighty Lemon Drops – Inside Out
  12. Shriekback – Go Bang
  1. Love And Rockets – Yin And Yang And The Flower Pot Man (Remix)
  2. Depeche Mode – Shake the Disease
  3. Sinéad O’Connor – Mandinka
  4. The Bolshoi – Modern Man
  5. The Sugarcubes – Motorcrash
  6. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Peek-A-Boo
  7. Michelle Shocked – Anchorage
  8. The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
  9. Voice of the Beehive – I Say Nothing
  10. Jerry Harrison – Cherokee Chief
  11. The Replacements – The Ledge

In keeping with how the story has gone, this one also represents a bit of stagnation. It’s not a bad mix, but there are a lot of wells I’m going back to here, and one especially egregious example of such. There is something notable, nevertheless: around this time I bought my first CD player. Since I was living at home, working, and had few expenses, I was buying a LOT of CDs (including a lot of things I already owned on vinyl.) Not only was this tape constructed pretty much entirely from CDs I owned, it’s one where I believe I still have every song on it on CD.

  • Colourbox – Hot Doggie

This is from the 4AD compilation, Lonely is an Eyesore, and it’s by far my favorite track on there. I also liked the Cocteau Twins and Clan of Xymox tracks on there and dug both bands, though neither one of them ever made it onto a mix for some reason. As much as I love this song, I never really sought out any of Colourbox’s other stuff.

  • The The – Slow Train To Dawn
  • Guadalcanal Diary – Litany (Life Goes On)
  • The Mighty Lemon Drops – Inside Out
  • Love And Rockets – Yin And Yang And The Flower Pot Man (Remix)
  • Sinéad O’Connor – Mandinka
  • The Bolshoi – Modern Man
  • The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
  • Voice of the Beehive – I Say Nothing

Nothing notable here, really, just some more of the same. That Bolshoi track seems kind of out of place here for some reason. And just as trivia, I believe “Slow Train to Dawn” was the first song I ever played on KRVS.

  • R.E.M. – Exhuming McCarthy

You can’t tell by this track, but this is the point where I fell for R.E.M. hard. I like Document well enough, but I now went back and really started devouring the previous stuff like never before.

  • Deacon Blue – Raintown

Here’s how much I was buying music: I’m in Tower Records one night and I see this album by a band called Deacon Blue, called Raintown. I like the cover. The band is named after a Steely Dan song I like. I like the album title. Something about the entire package (except the music, which I haven’t heard) “clicks” for me, so I buy it. Fortunately, I turn out to really like the album. (I tried this same thing with other CDs and didn’t encounter success.)

  • The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sidewalking

Barbed Wire Kisses came out after Darklands, even though a lot of it was recorded before that album, and it shows the JAMC progressing from the fuzzy sound of their first album to the more melodic second. On the one hand it gives a bit of context to the progression, but at the cost of taking away the surprising about-face they did.

I’m jumping ahead a bit here, but I eventually saw the band play at Tipitina’s (with an opening act to be named later). My friend Jody accompanied me and I warned him that everything I had read about the JAMC in concert assured me that they were AWFUL live. Sure enough, they were halfway through this song — one of my favorites — before I recognized what they were playing. (In fairness, I saw them two more times after that and they were much better.)

  • The Cure – Catch

Also jumping ahead here…at LSU I ended up auditioning for a play, and the audition required “performing” a song as though the lyrics were dialogue. This is the song I picked for that. (I got called back but didn’t get the part.)

  • Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights

Not sure why I suddenly get into Kate Bush here, with a song that wasn’t new to anyone except me.

  • Morrissey – Hairdresser On Fire

Right as I’m getting into The Smiths, they break up and Morrissey goes solo. Is it cheating to have both on the same tape? At least I put them on different sides.

  • 10,000 Maniacs – Don’t Talk

R.E.M.’s newfound mainstream success had a lot of similar acts being pushed hard. These were the darlings of the indie rock scene at the time both because of their affable sound and because let’s face it, Natalie Merchant was way cute.

  • Shriekback – Go Bang

Shriekback put out a new album for which this is the title track. And Stephen and I wanted to love love love it like we did the others but lord, it was not that good. It did have some moments on it, but for the most part it was something of a mess (and the inclusion of an ill-conceived cover of “Get Down Tonight” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, featuring a rap, was pretty much a test for even the most devoted fans.) Nevertheless, the fact that they didn’t follow it up with anything for some time means that four tracks from this album will get mined from it, when maybe two would have been enough.

  • Depeche Mode – Shake the Disease

This is the WTF-est track on here. Yes, you are remembering correctly. It’s not a remix or live or anything, it’s the exact same song that was already on The Cool New Music Tape II. I have no idea why it’s back.

And it’s not like Depeche Mode wasn’t putting out new music, either! Music For The Masses had come out and was wowing everyone (except me, I guess — I never loved it as much as everyone else seemed to, but it eventually grew on me more.) I will say that the album works best as a whole, with few tracks that sound as good in isolation (I had already used “Strangelove” on Paradise Misplaced.) The track that probably should have gone here is “Little 15”. But even without the new album, there was so much else I could have put if I wanted an older tune. Hell, I hadn’t ever used “People Are People”!

  • The Sugarcubes – Motorcrash

Looka little Bjork! The British music press adored the Sugarcubes and I liked their first album as well, even the songs where whatshisname would come in and start talking all over the place. We also saw them play at Tipitina’s and ended up leaving after only a few songs because, honestly, they weren’t that good. (I think I won the tickets by calling into WTUL, which I listened to a lot at work.)

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees – Peek-A-Boo
  • Jerry Harrison – Cherokee Chief

I’m sure Siouxsie fans regard Peepshow as the absolute nadir of the band, but it was great for a faux-goth like myself. And did you know Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads (and yes, the Modern Lovers, but I didn’t know that yet) put out a solo album (two, actually)? Unfortunately for him, most people didn’t know this. It’s not bad, if a bit more by-the-numbers than you’d expect.

  • Michelle Shocked – Anchorage

If this seems unusual for me, you’re not wrong. But again, the British music mags went gaga for Michelle-Shocked’s Texas Campfire Tapes, so when I saw her new album, Short Sharp Shocked at Sound Woohoo (our name for Sound Warehouse), I gave it a try, and ended up liking it a bunch, to my own surprise.

  • The Replacements – The Ledge

While I was at USL, Michael Dodd, my former friend who became a hated enemy, took his own life. Afterwards I played this song during my radio show as a “tribute” to him.

“Gene Pool of the Damned” was one of the nicer terms I had come up with to describe the circle of friends I had grown up with who were now in these weird, angry, incestuous relationships with each other. The Barrel of Monkeys from the cover was another metaphor I used, since there didn’t seem to be any way to have just one of them without getting the whole bunch along for the ride. (and see if you can find me in the diagram on the back cover!)

Click on the player below to listen to this mix!

(xspf player courtesy Lacy Morrow and Fabricio Zuardi.)

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