Probably two of the toughest questions you can be asked…. ‘What’s your favourite song? What’s your favourite album?’ Ask me tomorrow and I’ll give you a different answer to the one I give you today. But, ‘What’s the Album that made you?’ Wow, when I heard ‘Hysteria’ by Def Leppard it was the most incredible assault of melody on my ears, something even to this day I consider recorded perfection. Or maybe Poison’s ‘Flesh & Blood’, which wore through several walkmans? An album that, whilst surprising to most, is probably the album that made me want to be in a band in the first place. These, along with an endless list of others, could suitably answer that question, but I’ve chosen a record that even upon hearing today, over twenty years later, still fills me with joy, angst, nostalgia but most of all, gets me inspired and excited by rock and roll.
I first heard the entire ‘Grave Dancers Union’ album after making a cassette copy of my sister’s album. Two things attracted me – the incredible artwork, by Czech erotic art photographer Jan Saudek, which was totally different to anything that the Sunset Strip had unleashed upon me. Then of course you couldn’t escape ‘Runaway Train’ by Soul Asylum in the summer of 1993 if you watched MTV so by the time it’s follow up single, ‘Black Gold’, showcased on Raw Power late on a Thursday evening here in the UK, I was on board. Sure, Soul Asylum already had a huge history (this was their sixth album) but now was their time to shine, mainstream beckoned, and I’ve always felt they were a band that was not going to compromise – here’s our sound, if it’s a hit then great, jump on board and come along for the ride. Where could I buy my ticket to join the ‘Grave Dancers Union’? An impressionable, nineteen year old Laney wanted in!
‘Nothing attracts a crowd, like a crowd!’ Black Gold
Now don’t get me wrong, most of you know me for being a huge Hard Rock / Hair Metal Fan. That will never change, that’s the music which is tattooed on my heart, but I was a guy treading water in the mid 90s who never fit the mould of spandex, hair spray and lipstick and to be honest I never really wanted to. Even my heroes had dropped the glam in favor of a flannel alternative and I was no different, plus I was never gonna be able to play anything resembling a guitar solo like most of the bands I was listening to. That sound was larger than life, unachievable in my eyes and ears. When I heard Soul Asylum, I heard a band playing rock and roll – whether it be in a garage, a club or a stadium. I could do that, or at least I could try! I could hear what they were doing and it sounded incredible. I had to give that a shot.
We covered ‘Runaway Train’ at one of my first live gigs. I fucked up the solo bass lick which probably comes as no surprise to some of you. Probably even would today, too much pressure, but after almost two decades, I’m listening to this, alongside the likes of ‘Get On Out’ and ‘Without A Trace’, and realizing how much their songwriting has become a part of how my ears work. I’ve never been a songwriter but give me a song to arrange and I’ll tear that sucker apart and chances are I’ll use some Dave Pirner style arrangement - simple, effective and straight to the point.
‘Night driving without headlights - wearing sunglasses too. Anything to be cool!’ April Fool
Without even knowing it, I seem to have adopted Soul Asylum throughout the years as my ‘Go To Band’. Styles change, trends come and go but every year or so, Soul Asylum jump out and give me a healthy, musical slap around the face, just like those opening bars of ‘Somebody To Shove’! Becoming a big fan of Kevin Smith movies some time ago, there I’d find Soul Asylum popping up as one of his bands of choice to fuel the soundtrack to his genre defining films. This in turn led me to record a version of ‘Misery’ from the follow-up album to ‘Grave Dancers Union’ for my Straight To Video project. Don’t even get me started on how great ‘Let Your Dim Light Shine’ is! I finally got to go to New York a couple of years ago, which in turn coincided with my chance to see the band perform live for the very first time. Here was Pirner looking every bit the rock star I hoped and hearing their song ‘Take Manhattan’ will always remind me of an amazing overseas trip.
’Seems like I should be getting somewhere. Somehow I'm neither here nor there’ Runaway Train
Thank you Soul Asylum for being the band you are, giving an impressionable teenager in the early nineties an album that he will forever return to, one that even my wife can agree is great. Every bit of energy, melody, and sometimes weirdness held within the twelve songs on ‘Grave Dancers Union’ will make it the album that made me.
Rob Lane will probably forever hail from the small village of Loscoe in Derbyshire, UK. In the past his random lack of musical boundaries has seen him play bass guitar for the likes of LA hard rockers BulletBoys right through to mid nineties power pop makers Let Loose and Texas based People on Vacation. Right now he can be found performing with long standing Nottingham band TCC and handling bass duties with Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors. Elsewhere he can be found knee deep in a dusty VHS collection and working on his Straight To Video Movie Soundtrack Project.