Monday, June 4, 2018

"I'll Be Around" by What Is This

Song#:  2424
Date:  08/17/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  62
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This L.A. band was first formed by high school friends in the early 80s. They went through a few name changes before settling on What Is This, which was a phrase they had heard from folks who were hearing the band for the first time. After a few years of gigging around L.A., the band got offered a deal with MCA. An initial EP titled Squeezed came out in 1984 and the following year saw the release of their self-titled full-length debut LP produced by Todd Rundgren. This first single was released to promote the album, but it didn't make a huge impression. The song stalled short of the Top 50 which then caused the album to be just a minor blip on the chart (#187). A follow-up EP titled 3 of 5 Live got pushed out later in the year to little notice. The results weren't good and it wasn't long before the band decided to split.

ReduxReview:  This is a remake of The Spinners' 1973 #1 R&B/#3 Pop classic and I'm not exactly sure why this rock band with a lean towards funk decided to record the tune. I can only venture to guess that the band didn't have a good song for single contention and the label pushed them to do something more commercial and radio-friendly. I can't imagine any other reason because the song and even the arrangement isn't even close to anything they were doing on the album. It's so out of place. While the band does a nice job here, they don't offer anything new or interesting. A hundred other good no-name bands could have easily done the same thing, so it just leaves me with one question...why?

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia: Another superstar rock band has their roots in What Is This. In the early high school days of the band their original bass player left so they brought in a new guy named Michael Balzary, aka Flea. Then to help the band at shows, another classmate, Anthony Kiedis, was brought in as a roadie and a hype-man to get the crowds going at the band's shows. Flea ended up leaving the band and along with Kiedis and two other What Is This members, Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons, formed a band they titled Tony Flow and the Majestic Masters of Mayhem. The band was meant to just be a one-off lark and they intended to do one quick gig where the band improvised behind Kiedis who rapped some poetry he wrote. However, they got a great response and decided to keep the band together to see what might happen. At this point a better name was needed so they chose to be the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The new quartet kept playing shows and developing their sound. Slovak and Irons maintained dual membership between What Is This and the Peppers until both bands were offered major label contracts. Feeling that the Peppers were a side project, the pair left that band and stayed with What Is This. Kiedis and Flea didn't want to give up their band so they got two new members and moved ahead with their career. After What Is This folded, Slovak and Irons found themselves back in the Peppers. Slovak would unfortunately die of a drug overdose in 1988 and Irons, reeling from the loss of his best friend, left the band soon after. The Peppers continued on with new members John Fruscianti and Chad Smith. They would record their breakthrough album Mother's Milk in 1989. Irons would later join Pearl Jam in 1994 as their drummer and stay through to 1998.


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