Some time ago I told you about one of my favorite solo albums by the lead singer of this band, Mike Doughty. So far, however, I haven’t really spoken about his original band, Soul Coughing, or any of their tremendous albums from the mid 90’s. Let’s remedy that today by telling you about Ruby Vroom.
Why this album?
I first became fully aware of Soul Coughing via the X-Files soundtrack ‘Songs in the key of X’. At the time I had purchased that compilation soundtrack specifically for the Foo Fighters track ‘Down in the Park’ as, at the time, I had become quite the fan of theirs and, as with Nirvana before them, I was determined to find every track they had ever recorded. Upon buying the album I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it not only had a wonderful track from Foo but also entries from Sheryl Crow, Frank Black, Curt Kirkwood and even Elvis Costello. The track that surprised me most, however was the fascinating tune by a band called Soul Coughing called ‘Unmarked Helicopters’.
Now I had heard ‘of’ Soul Coughing before as True Dreams of Wichita seemed to be a popular track on our local radio station but the band really didn’t come into view for me until that X-files compilation. Unlike most of the bands I followed due to a single song, however, it would be several more years before I really dove into Soul Coughing, all thanks to a coworker who was an even bigger fan than I could imagine.
The same guy who got me back into Eels caused my rediscovery of Soul Coughing. Catching me singing along with ‘Unmarked Helicopters’, he asked if I was a fan of the band. I replied that I was familiar with them but really hadn’t dove in too deep. The next day he handed me Ruby Vroom and said, ‘start here’. That evening, I popped the disc into my car cd player (when they still had them) and found a familiarity in songs I had only heard before in passing.
Immediately I realized that there was much more here than just a couple of hit, this band was something special and man I needed more. Thankfully, my buddy had more and dive in I did. It was soon after reintroducing me to Soul Coughing that he informed me that lead singer Mike Doughty had gone into a solo career and before long, I was infatuated with Doughty’s entire discography.
The album, Ruby Vroom, itself is Soul Coughing’s first official release and honestly is a tremendous place to start for any potential fans. This album really showcases the songwriting talents of the four members of the band with Doughty firmly in the lead with some incredible lyrics and vocals. Although Doughty is a major talent on any album he is on, you can not miss the tremendous work of Bassist Sebastian Steinberg, Keyboardist Mark De Gli Antoni (who would later become a solid composer) and Drummer Yuval Gabay.
The music presented is not a typical rock band from the 90’s instead is more of a beat poetry jam put to music with a touch of jazz, funk and blues throughout. The band loves to experiment with sound constantly mixing and remixing songs as you listen along for a trippy ride into organized chaos. Many times the sounds presented should not work together but somehow, this quartet not only make the sound work but convince these individual sounds that they were made for one another. Every track is a work of art and that is what makes this album so special.
True Dreams of Wichita: This one is a classic and only seems to get better with age.
Mr. Bitterness. I don’t know why I like this one so much but there is something really rad about it.
Bus To Beelzebub This one is just crazy but really showcases the insanity and talent these guys have.
Ok, where do I get it?
This is one that is getting harder and harder to find but, keep checking back here to see if a copy turns up. Until you find a physical copy, you can enjoy it here via Spotify. They have your back. No matter how you listen to it, give it a go. I think you may dig Soul Coughing.
Late to the Game 2/4/2020
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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