All the Pain Money Can Buy
The greatest gift Austin, Texas has given to pop music isn’t hosting the South By Southwest music festival each spring, but rather, their contribution of Fastball to a small population of wildly talented guitar rock bands. Fastball’s 1996 debut, Make Your Mama Proud (which this reviewer called a “perfect record by a perfect band”) earned them praise along the lines of “the most criminally under-appreciated band in America.” All the Pain Money Can Buy is equally brilliant, and demonstrates a maturity and progression in songwriting that was already tight as a drum two years ago. These 13 songs are so perfectly crafted with intelligent, heartfelt lyrics you’d think they wrote themselves.
As much fun to discover song by song as a classic album from The Beatles or Queen, All the Pain Money Can Buy has Fastball building on the sound of those three-minute marvels turned out by the likes of Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, or Elvis Costello in the pre-new wave ’70s. Here are some examples of the ultra coolness to be found on this CD. “G.O.D. (Good Old Days),” a deliriously carefree reminiscence of one’s youthful chemical indulgences, has those “Saturday in the Park” style horns that Chicago used to throw on every song, while the straightforward, “Out of My Head” brings with it a wave of unintentional nostalgia as it nearly mirrors Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” The R.E.M.-style “Nowhere Road” is a perfect example of Fastball’s country-edged story-telling rock with great lyrics like “It’s a nowhere road and I’m tired/ It’s a nowhere job and I’m fired.” The prophetically entitled “Which Way to the Top?” has some lovely, understated lounge style keyboards and the complimentary guest vocals of the equally lovely Poe. If All the Pain Money Can Buy isn’t snagging top spots on everyone’s Best of 1998 lists at the end of the year, it will be a dirty rotten shame.