originally uploaded by mark benney
Maybe this series name should be changed to "I just dreamed one up" because this morning I woke with another blast from the past rocking around in my head. There was a time when I really liked Buffalo Tom...for two or three years Stuart and I saw them a stack of times - growing from tiny stages to the last time at the Shepherds Bush Empire in the mid 90s. But that suddenly stopped - and it really was sudden...I remember standing outside The Empire that last time wondering what made me think that I ever liked them. The chunky, insistent guitars, the strained vocals, it seemed to have nothing in common with anything else I was listening to and seemed tired and old...and so early 90s. It seems odd that a lot of the music I listened to in the late 80s and early 90s seems timeless and yet Buffalo Tom seemed to date so badly and so quickly.
So I dreamt last night I was at a Heavy Metal play with all the greats of HM acting and playing their greatest hits - I can't remember the story but I'm pretty certain there was one...and then Bill Janowitz came on stage - only by now the stage was a great expanse of grass. I wanted to take a picture but everytime I tried to the camera refused to work...I could take pictures of anything else but every time I pointed it at Bill it refused to work. That was it - a rather uninteresting dream had planted Buffalo Tom in my head. I got up and while zipping through the feed of my contacts photos on Flickr this morning came across a bunch that James Cadden had taken of Buffalo Tom in NY.
It seemed that everything was trying to make me dig out Buffalo Tom today - I was astounded to discover that I had their first four albums (plus one singles compilation). I've dragged the whole pile to work with me thinking I'd give them all a listen but their debut album is really not all that good and I gave up half-way through - its an out and out grunge album and I never realised that I'd got that into grunge. Birdbrain is better, still grunge but less grunge-by-numbers than their debut (it's no surprise to discover that J Mascis had his fingers in those first two pies). The title track which opens the album is how I think of Buffalo Tom but then, like with the first album, the tiring strain of the vocals and the repetitive guitar sounds just have me drifting off and yearning for something with a little more subtlety and variation (feel free to sneer at the Galaxie 500 fan yearning for variation!).
I'm starting to realise that maybe it was the live shows that I liked most about Buffalo Tom, I remember them in small venues being astonishingly powerful and I suspect that those shows saw my last visits to the edges of the mosh-pit. But "power" and bashing shoulders with other men is something that I was growing out of by 1993, much preferring a more introspective gig experience so as the venues got bigger and I got older it became clear that Buffalo Tom and I had nothing left for each other.
"Fortune Teller" gave me little pangs of nostalgia and I will make it through to the end of the album but suspect I'll save the other two albums for another day or another dream.