12 O'Clock Track: "Sunflower," a scorching forgotten gem from Eleventh Dream Day

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Eleventh Dream Day (circa 1991)
  • Eleventh Dream Day (circa 1991)
After releasing two excellent albums for Atlantic Records, Beet (1989) and Lived to Tell (1990), Chicago's Eleventh Dream Day were elated to be freed from their contract in 1991. Their label debut was a critical favorite, but Atlantic did little to support the group, especially after its second album came out, largely because the people that brought them to the company, including future Thrill Jockey Records owner Bettina Richards, all ditched, leaving poor EDD on a sinking ship. Founding member and guitarist Baird Figi, tired of the grind of touring, quit the band and was replaced by an old pal from Louisville, Kentucky, Matthew "Wink" O'Bannon of the excellent, psychotic Bodeco. The band recorded a powerful new album with Brad Wood at Idful that seethed and soothed in equal measure. I had a cassette of that record that I literally wore out—as much as I loved the band's early albums, including the in-the-red brilliance of debut Prairie School Freakout, this new one was far and away its most accomplished, varied, and substantial.

The band tried shopping the album to new labels, and in the midst of this process Danny Goldberg—Nirvana's manager, who had just taken over Atlantic's new alternative department—contacted the band and begged them to come back, forgiving the substantial debt racked up by their previous two albums and promising that things would be different going forward. He ended up convincing the group, who rerecorded those songs I couldn't get out of my head with producer Jim Rondinelli—the results were released in 1993 as El Moodio. At first I was disappointed because I was so sweet on the raw, driving predecessor, but I grew to love El Moodio—a true masterpiece. Unfortunately, most of Goldberg's promises of support went nowhere and what should have catapulted EDD to at least moderate stardom (this was the immediate post-Nirvana era) kind of drifted into the ether. Touring in support of the record was the quartet's final push to make a career from music full-time. They've obviously continued to make great records and play shows, but on a much more modest scale.

On May 14 Comedy Minus One will release those original recordings made with Wood on limited edition vinyl and unlimited download. New Moodio, as it's been recently titled, sounds just as good as I remember it and I'm very happy to have both versions side by side. Today's 12 O'Clock Track would almost be a world premiere, but a few of the songs from those sessions were released as a 3-track single by the German label City Slang in 1992 as Two Sweeties. But considering how few people ever heard the song "Sunflower," which didn't turn up on El Moodio, it may as well be. It's one of the most furious songs in the band's catalog, with manically searing guitar. I envy those of you hearing if for the first time.

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