Learn To Pull The Trigger or Matthew Sweet – 100% Fun

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A life time ago it seems I was getting the opportunity to interview some of my favorite artists for the now defunct id Magazine. In this case, it was the summer of 1995 and I was in my new overheated cheap rent apartment having just finished university. Sitting beside the phone random chords were filling the air as I strummed my guitar for no one but myself to hear. Once the phone did ring I was talking with Matthew Sweet for the better part of 30 minutes about his recently released album 100% Fun.

I wish I could reprint the article, or even remember the questions and answers, but it was a different time. While I have the interview on disc, it is one of those old 2.5 inch plastic jobs that haven’t been used in computers since before the turn of the century. The actual interview was recorded on a mini cassette, but I have no working player to even hear it with. So all I can tell you is this… he was super nice and patient with me when I asked him for the chords to the song “Someone To Pull The Trigger” from his previous record Altered Beast.

I hadn’t been playing guitar for all that long and I really wanted to learn how to play this song, but unlike the current version of the internet, you couldn’t just Google or YouTube to get answers – so I asked.

Remarkably, he laughed and started giving me the chords in enough detail to allow for a beginner, even giving me alternate and easier ways to play them. I’m guessing I thanked him for both the interview and the guitar lesson, but honestly, I don’t remember how things ended other than I was sweating in an overheated south facing shit-hole with a lovely view of the Humber River, trying to learn how to play a Matthew Sweet song that I really loved.

As the summer continued, “Sick Of Myself” was in heavy rotation at CFNY (the Edge) and I found myself turning off the radio when the song ended and picking up my guitar for another shot at figuring out my one and only guitar lesson. Unfortunately, I think I stopped trying when I finally attempted to add my own vocals and scared all the birds away from my balcony.

Anyway, 100% Fun is a classic power-pop record full of chiming guitar, powerful hooks and sing-a-long choruses that hide a wee bit of darkness and self loathing in the overall lyrical content. It is a record I keep coming back to year after year, and is one of my favorite albums to hear on those long drives. It is being re-issued later this month on 180 gram wax by Music On Vinyl over in Europe. I’m sure you can order it at your favorite local record retailer or online store.

Sweet is also working on a new record that will hopefully arrive at my door before the annual Christmas specials have me contemplating an apartment on the moon.

Life is just Cooler with a little Matthew Sweet – On The Path To Vinyl Glory

Originally I was going to do a music memories take on Matthew Sweet and his always fantastic Girlfriend… I still might, but other things have popped up to make this a bit more informational for music fans in general.

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First Girlfriend was released on vinyl back in November with a slightly altered track listing. While the CD version contains 15 songs, the vinyl is cut down to 12 for space reasons. It seems that rather than picking and choosing someone’s ridiculous idea of weaker songs, they just dropped the last three tunes from the original 1991 Zoo release. (“Does She Talk?”, “Holy War” and “Nothing Lasts.”) It’s unfortunate really, it may have been a better idea to split the record onto two vinyl discs and add a couple ‘bonus’ tracks rather than remove anything… but whatcha gonna do.

Now I couldn’t find out if this Plain Recordings vinyl was remastered for vinyl or if it is taken from the CD master, but the sound quality is outstanding regardless. Having it burst from turntable to speakers gave me the same energized feel I got back in ’91 when it blasted out of my Walkman on my way to class.

The next two pieces of info are a little bit ahead of the curve this time so, if you are a fan, this is great news.

Last June, Sweet’s Facebook page announced a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new record. By mid July he had reached his goal and a new record should be showing up around April of this year. It was a pretty good campaign that included rewards such as downloads CD’s coloured vinyl and original artwork by Sweet himself.

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Also, Blue Sky On Mars (1997) has been released on vinyl in Europe (by Music On Vinyl), and has just landed here. Amazon has it on a 3 – 5 week delivery, but one of my favorite retailers, Northern Volume, has it in stock now. It’s on 180 gram audiophile vinyl and has a gatefold cover with insert.

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http://www.northernvolume.com/matthew-sweet-blue-sky-on-mars-180g-audiophile-vinyl-lp-record-from-music-on-vinyl/

If you are unfamiliar with Blue Sky On Mars, it is the last in a string of four records (Girlfriend, Altered Beast, 100% Fun & BSOM) Sweet put out on Zoo, and remain arguably his most well known. On this record he adds elements of the 70’s Todd Rundgren produced Cars to his usual Big Star inspired power-pop for what I’ll call a bit more of a carnival ride atmosphere. It swings in such a way that during the albums heavier moments it reminds you of the blasting rhythms you hear playing from the classic “Polar Express” ride at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). Sure, as always, critics have complained that Sweet’s music comes off a little too ‘syrupy’ to make for a lasting impression, but honestly, I’ve always found those complaints to be a bit short sighted. To my ears, he has always had one foot in the guitar driven tunes of the 70’s while the other is standing in the premier pop of Burt Bacharach and Harry Nillson. If anything, as demonstrated by his cover records with Susanna Hoffs, Sweet has a soft spot for the well produced and hooky in all genres.

Anyway, I’ll likely own the vinyl within the week and I highly encourage you to give it a listen.