#145 Material Issue – International Pop Overthrow (1991)

In the time that existed between Hair Metal & Grunge there were 2 forms of music that in stepped to the forefront. The big one was the renaissance of country music enjoyed. The second, albeit to a lesser extent, was a form of music that struggled to be labeled. Some called it alternative, some called it college rock, the Billboard charts named it Modern Rock. It was the wave of music that was influenced by REM, U2, the Smithereens & the kings of alt-rock The Replacements. This was when Chicago’s Material Issue released their debut album “International Pop Overthrow” in 1991. IPO is a little piece of power pop magic. The album spawned two Top 10 Modern Rock singles. The first was “Diane” which was a fast paced, guitar driven, fluffy homage to just how god damn great Diane was…Diane’s got everything…a helicopter and a submarine.. And I loved it. It shot to #6 on Billboards Modern Rock charts. The second, which reached #3, was “Valerie Loves Me”. A pop song that describes the unrequited love of Valerie by a desperate loner. It contains a quick shouted chorus with an insane saxophone blurt, that helps convey the writers desperation. The third single from the disc was “Renee Remains The Same”. From the initial riff to the drum beat this sounds like a Smithereens song…and that’s a good thing. Although a step below the first 2 singles, it did not reach the Top 10, it still is a great tune. My other favorite off this album was not released as a single but is as good as any other song on the record, “Very First Lie”. Yes it is a sappy love song, but I’m a closet hopeless romantic…ssshhh, don’t tell. Jim Ellison sings of the optimism of a romance in its infatuation stages. It contains great lines like, I’d like to wake up with you early in the morning or stay up late playing records on your phonograph & I’d like to ignore all my friends and spend some time with you, maybe shake your tambourine. During the tour supporting this record the band became apart of musical trivia history by being the band that shared the bill at The Taste of Chicago with The Replacements for what would turn out to be the Mats last live performance. The band would enjoy modest success on subsequent albums, but never quite as much as with IPO. In the summer of 1995 the band co-headlined the very first “Edgefest” (it would later be re-named X Fest) in Sommerset,WI. with the Violent Femmes & the Suburbs. A concert I attended and thoroughly enjoyed (from what I remember !). It was like a last waltz for Modern Rock (soon after the station that sponsored this show would switch formats to Heavy Metal and announced it by playing REM’s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” for 24 straight hours uninterrupted) But by the end of the year the band’s label had dropped them and the band struggled to put a demo together in hopes of landing a new recording contract. But in 1996 lead singer & songwriter Jim Ellison committed suicide on June 20, 1996 by carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage. Thus putting an end to the band. But this year surviving members of the band reunited with a new singer under the name Material Reissue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this album and will be playing the Taste of Chicago this summer. If you’ve never heard of this band go to iTunes and give them a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

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