The first time I heard "You Get What You Give" by the New Radicals, was about two weeks before the record was released in 1998. My shop was riding high, CDs were all the rage, and I had promos of just about every record by every artist in every genre. A friend, who was also an industry hot shot, asked what I thought of this new release he had sent me, which he had a little something to do with. I was honest, for better or worse, and said I still hadn't listened because I wasn't into that "white boy phony funk shit."
"What the hell are you talking about? Listen to it!"
Obviously, you can't tell a book or a CD by its cover. "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed, Too" was not "phony white boy funk," despite what I thought of its cover. It was mostly one man, Gregg Alexander, with his then main squeeze, child actor turned pop star, Danielle Brisebois, playing and singing some of the most infectious and perfectly produced pop and soul, that could not have been more suited for moi. It was as if I was listening to the love child of Todd Rundgren and Prince.
20 years later, a superb vinyl release, finally, and I am in love with this record all over again. Many of the songs, including the hit, were co-written with guitarist Rusty Anderson, who has since made a name for himself as guitarist and right hand man of sorts, for Paul McCartney. The album has been spinning all weekend. It's also the only record the New Radicals have released. I don't know the whole story. Actually, I don't even know part of the story, other than, mastermind Gregg Alexander decided he preferred it better behind the scenes. He said that "the fatigue of traveling and getting three hours sleep in a different hotel every night to do boring 'hanging and schmoozing' with radio and retail people is definitely not for me."
In the last 20 years, Alexander has won a Grammy for writing "The Game Of Love," which was a hit for Santana and Michelle Branch, and was nominated for an Oscar for "Lost Stars," from the film "Begin Again." He also has a few songs out there recorded by some unknowns that really have his mark all over them, but that's for another post.
The first single, "You Get What You Give" is a triumphant gem of a pop song. It's instant gratification, like a blast of oxygen. As a matter of fact, the four tracks posted here are some of the best pop songs I have ever heard. I know that's saying a lot, but I am completely entranced by the production, the swirling, dreamlike intro to "I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending," the almost desperate delivery of Alexander's vocals on every track, and the seemingly bottomless well of hooks.
Maybe, I've been brainwashed, too!