Prompted by the odd recent confluence of pieces from Pitchfork and New City examining Chicago's music scene in 1993 (the latter a novella-length essay by Bill Wyman), I started thinking about some of the great stuff from that time that barely got mentioned. I dug out 1993's Cavale (Bar/None), the final studio album by Shrimp Boat, a group known better today for launching the career of the Sea and Cake's Sam Prekop than for its own impressive body of work. Cavale remains a stunner, packed with an astonishingly diverse mix of concise, playful, and often beautiful art-pop songs.
It was hard to pick just one for today's 12 O'Clock Track, because Cavale's 15 songs reflect so many different facets of the band's personality: the jacked-up, tangled guitar pop of "Pumpkin Lover," the chugging, tempo-shifting, quasi-operatic "Duende Suite," the weird, halting funk of "Dollar Bill" (with drummer Brad Wood turning in one of his greatest soprano saxophone solos). Shrimp Boat could never be judged by a single tune—the group's sprawl was central to its genius. But this feature isn't called "12 O'Clock Oeuvre," so today I'm posting "What Do You Think of Love." A gorgeous ballad with production clearly inspired by Willie Mitchell's work at Hi, it features an elegant guitar line by Ian Schneller in the bridge that for some odd reason has always reminded me a bit of Elvin Bishop's 1975 hit "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." Twenty-three years later, this song still makes my insides all mushy.