90's Hit Parade #46 (Revised)
Redd Kross - Elephant Flares
As the 90's began, the 70's seemed like a strange joke. The loud, silly fashions, gimmicky bands like KISS and The Village People, pet rocks, even Nixon and Carter all seemed too weird to have actually happened, yet we could all remember having grown up around it. Those things all had happy, childhood memories attached to them. So there was a strange mixture of nostalgic warmth and ironic chuckling in the 70's parties and disco nights and KISS covers. This mixture is perhaps the defining (and damning) aspect of our generation. It brings to mind annoying hipsters and childish nostalgia-addicts, but maybe it's not all bad. The ridiculousness of the 70's ensured that we couldn't quite romanticize the decade the way previous generations romanticized the 50's and 60's.
Redd Kross made this goofy nostalgia their stock in trade, not only on their albums but in cinematic side projects like Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and Spirit of '76. The latter featured David Cassidy as a time-traveler from the future who ends up in 1976, where his guides are the MacDonald brothers (the core members of Redd Kross), and is nothing but one long 70's joke. The soundtrack included a new Redd Kross song, "1976," which featured a dead-on Paul Stanley impersonation for no reason at all. This all seemed really cool when these guys were just about the only people doing it. By the end of the decade, Redd Kross' whole schtick would be a hit TV show.
"Elephant Flares" is all hooks, like one of those Desmond Childe compositions that Bon Jovi was topping the charts with at about the same time. It's even got three choruses, all of them catchy, but of course the best one, the one that makes it a bona fide summer classic is "Cruisin' down the highway in my Trans Am/Custom T-top down/Hear some BTO/Playin' on the radio." I've had existential crises over whether it's really healthy to dig the irony-rich not-quite-parodies that Redd Kross specializes in, but when I've got this cranked up in my car on a hot day, I feel no guilt.
Anyway, couldn't find this on YouTube, so I just embedded the audio, but here's one from the same album:
And it's analog: