MusicBlox: Red Red Groovy

redredsmallI was digging through my music directories, and stumbled across this album I had almost forgotten about. It took me way back to the days I spent as a highschooler digging through CD bargain bins, looking for … I don’t know, things I hadn’t heard of that looked interesting. I remember finding this album vividly. I was a student at St. Mark’s in Southborough for less than a year (long story), and one of the teachers had a kind of club that went in to Faneuil Hall for a fancy dinner and classical music with the BCO periodically. I joined out of a sense of adventure and an interest in not being cooped up in my dorm room with people I barely got along with. Prior to the dinner and music part of the evening, we had the run of the market and had much fun at stores which have long since been replaced with tedious facsimiles.

One of the stores I made a point to hit was Sam Goody, a music chain in the vein of Strawberries or Coconuts (what did music have to do with fruit in the 90s, anyway?). I’d leaf through their bargain bin, then go through their electronic section. At this point in my life I had already solidly connected with the rave scene, and even if I was unable to go to parties frequently I was voraciously devouring as much of the music as I could get my hands on. Eon, Plastikman and the Speed Limit series were on frequent rotation in my dorm room, to the consternation of the dorm parents.

The time in question, I had struck out in the bargain bin but stumbled across an intriguing cover in the electronic section. Sometimes, when I found little else, I’d take a gamble on something by the cover alone. This time, when I got a listen to the CD, it wasn’t at all what I expected — but not wholly disappointing, either.

Red Red Groovy was a band on a short-lived spinoff of the MCA record label called Continuum Records. The label folded in the mid-90s, which left them without a platform on which to release their music. There’s also a rumor that they were embroiled in a legal battle with the similarly-named but unrelated industrial act Red Red Groove, which kept them from pursuing new representation under a new label. Rather than renaming and pressing on, they disbanded and went their separate ways.

The album they left behind remains, in my opinion, one of the most unique and overlooked electro-pop albums of the early 90s. While some will note the similarity to pop-psychedelic groups like the B-52s and Deee-Lite, the fact is that their placement in the electronic section of Sam Goody was not accidental. The album has a strong dance groove, aside from the unmissable 60s-style Hammond-organ grooviness that invites comparisons to Madchester bands or Saint Etienne. However influenced they may have been by some of the UK music scene around the same time, Red Red Groovy was from Minneapolis and also influenced by the burgeoning US rave scene that was their more direct experience.

Despite the fact that the band’s website is long gone, their album “25” is still available from time to time on Amazon. Or of course, you could just stream the whole thing on Youtube.

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