Pocket Full of Kryptonite, by Spin Doctors
Suggested by Ed Ross
Two Princes, the Spin Doctors classic, housed a section of lyrics which were incomprehensible.
You know the part. It’s in the chorus, after the singer is done explaining why he’s likely not a fine match for the princess. He sings “I ain’t got no future or family tree, but…” and then starts gibbering like a wanking chimp. Countless drunks on countless dancefloors have raised their glasses and their voices and sang variations of the following…
“I ain’t got no future or family tree, but / Eyedda-wabba-meesa-bassa-parsa-meeeeeee!”
The lyrics are actually “…I know what a prince and lover ought to be.” Splendid. Nice to know. Back in the early Nineties, before crystal clear streaming sounds and the world’s knowledge in a phone, you had to go with your gut. Misheard and mangled lyrics were a thing, and a damn funny thing at that.
My personal misheard lyric was for the Megadeth song Devil’s Island, which I misheard as Yellow Dollar. This likely had more to do with the quality of my bootleg taped copy than my hearing. Other great mishearings include the classic Jimi Hendrix “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy,” Bob Dylan’s “These ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind,” and my personal favourite, Robert Palmer’s “Might as well face it, you’re a dick with a glove.”
Let’s talk about Two Princes, their number three single and likely one of only two songs by the band that you’ve actually heard. It’s a timeless pop classic, a funky indie-rock stormer with a singable-yet-undecipherable chorus and a great breakdown vocal-and-drumbeat section. It’s their career highlight, and as such is my standout song today. Their other “hit” single from Pocket Full of Kryptonite is Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, which is moulded from the same material as Two Princes: snappy, poppy, bouncy, funky rock with a strident vocal and an earworm chorus.
So that’s the Spin Doctors, I guess. At least, that’s the relevant portion of the Spin Doctors. They soldiered on, and are still playing today, their six-album career peaking at their 1991 debut. I was surprised to discover they are still out there doing it, as I assumed they were a one-album-and-done affair. And I’d not even listened to that.
What of the rest of Pocket Full of Kryptonite? It’s surprisingly assured, and a lot funkier that I’d expected. We kick off with the album’s third single, Jimmy Olsen’s Blues, which includes the album title in the lyrics and channels Creedence Clearwater Revival with some success. Of particular note is the marvellous slapping bass, prevalent through every song. When mixed with the high twang of the guitar, the light drumming, and the almost nasal buzz of the vocal, you have a sound that is unmistakeably Spin Doctors.
And the songs are great! What Time Is It is a quirky delight, Refrigerator Car is almost Pop-Metal, and the thirteen-minute blues-rock-funk finale of Shinbone Alley / Hard to Exist is interesting and engaging from start to finish.
Looking at Wikipedia, it seems that as the band matured, they moved from the funk rock into pop rock and finally more blues rock. This feels a shame, as with a fine 7/10 album for their debut, I’m intrigued to check out their later work. I hope it’s still as funky as this.