Daily Record 2/23/11: Spiders-Space

In 1990, 1996, British bands, pop on February 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm


Listening to today’s Daily Record, 1996’s Spiders by British pop rock band Space, felt like homework to me. While the album spawned a “modern rock hit” (i.e., a popular song that did not make Billboard‘s Top 40) in “Female of the Species,” Space was destined to become a one-hit wonder, at least in the U.S.

I was a big fan of “Female of the Species,” and still am. I don’t know if you remember it, but it’s this kind-of-spooky, kind-of-Bacharach tune in which the singer intones “The female of the species is more deadly than the male.” Great tune, but the previous sentence includes a clue to my ambivalence about listening to the whole <i>Spiders</i> album this morning: I don’t even know the singer’s name!

I do not remember buying the Spiders album, though the purchase probably went something like this. One evening in Northeast Philadelphia, Donna and I drive up Roosevelt Boulevard to Tower Records. For those who might not remember the pre-iTunes era, Tower was indeed a magical place where nearly any song you wanted could be found on bright shiny compact discs. When I first stepped into a Tower Records (probably the one down on South Street, also in Philadelphia) I’m sure I was barely able to contain myself.

Anyway, having heard “Female of the Species” by Space on a still-somewhat-novel modern rock station, I decided to buy the whole CD. Brought it home, maybe listened to it once and dutifully placed “Female of the Species” as a key track on a few mix tapes over the next years.

Then forgot about it. Forgot about Spiders. Forgot about Space. There was never a follow-up single that I remember being in rotation on that radio station, so I was never enticed to give the album a chance, as I had other albums that had grown to iconic status in my mind.

And I never even bothered to learn the singer’s name.

Then we moved to Phoenixville. Jimmy was born. We bought a house. Chris was born. My life changed over and over and I never got around to listening to Spiders.

Now, here we are, more than a decade and a half later and I am in the self-imposed position of having to listen to an entire album by a one-hit-wonder band from the mid-1990s, an era that is growing ever more distant in my life’s rearview mirror. I was concerned that this listening session would be merely an academic exercise. I soldiered on though and listened to the Spiders album, along with the four-track bonus disc (two tracks of which are “Female of the Species,” one an instrumental version).

My verdict: Spiders is OK. Not sure it ever would have grown on me though, even if I had applied the effort back in ’96.

For the record, there are two or three songs, other than “Female of the Species” that will probably make the cut on my MP3 player-for now. My favorite of these is a breezy pop song called “Dark Clouds” that sounds almost nothing like “Female of the Species.”

The rest of the songs sound to me like overt attempts to be “dance clubby” circa ’96 or they’re just that standard issue pop rock that seemed to fill up the Clinton Decade. I seem to have issues with certain aspects of pop rock music made in the 1990s, but I’ll discuss these another time.

For now, I just want to be done my homework. Can I go play now?


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