Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 165
Fri. June 21, 2012

“So Alive”
Love & Rockets

“♫ My head is full
of magic, baby/ and I
can’t share this with
you/ I feel I’m on top
again, baby/ that’s got
everything to do with
you/ …I’m alive, so

Do you remember when radio was king? I miss those days, when you could turn on the FM and discover new sounds with DJ’s who spin for the love of music. I grew up listening to college radio in South Texas. In my car, KSYM 90.1 FM was our local San Antonio College radio station, where I would literally drive to the Hogwild Records, our favorite underground record store, [remember those?], and pick up the album that was played on the radio.

Imagine that, I lived in San Antonio, Texas during the late eighties and through the alternative music revolution of the nineties? What if I had lived in L.A. like mi Esposa? My wife is so lucky, she was a KROQ kid, growing up in So Cal listening to the coolest, most cutting edge radio stations on the planet.

I remember our Modern Rock radio station breaking “So Alive” before mainstream FM stations made this Love & Rockets gem an American pop smash hit. Who would have thought that a band who grew from the remains of one of the most influential Goth bands in history Bauhaus, featuring Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins, would pen this Top five modern rock classic?

When was the last time a band like Love & Rockets crossed over from the other side of radio to become Rock Star sensations with substance? And that was more than twenty years ago. Now radio is so commercially saturated and middle of the road; FM and college radio underground stations hardly ever break new bands? It seems like Reality shows are only manufacturing American Pop idols. What happened the time when talented punks like Ash, David J and Haskins could actually earn their taste of success with hard riffs and sweet, addictive lines that took you over in a five minute rock song?

Daniel Ash, the guitarist from Bauhaus and Love And Rockets. It amazes me how he uses sound, as opposed to technique. For me, it doesn’t matter how difficult something is, it doesn’t matter how impressive it is, and it’s what sounds best that really counts.” Jane’s Addiction Axe-man Dave Navarro said, discussing his main music influence Daniel Ash.

Did you realize guitarist Daniel Ash is the Love & Rockets member who penned “So Alive?” I never knew that Ash was one of the main inspirations for my favorite modern day L.A. based guitarist Dave Navarro. Dave explained why Ash was one of his heroes when he said, “And Daniel Ash is a great example of that because he’s not the greatest player in the world. But I listen to some of the stuff he does and it’s just a hundred times more interesting to me than listening to a Van Halen record.”

Of course, I know what Navarro’s talking about—I grew up in the cock rock capitol of South Texas where Van Halen, AC/DC, Scorpions and Budgie (don’t ask) were king; and Love & Rockets were killer enough to make a mark on San Antonio radio. That’s where I first discovered Love & Rockets: on modern college rock radio circa 1989.

It took a day to record `So Alive, ` even though it started out with just a vague idea by Daniel. It started as this chugging, heavy-guitar number and it just evolved into a pop song.” said Love and Rockets drummer Kevin Haskins— describing the evolution of “So Alive” from blues to modern pop classic.

I believe legendary rock scribe, Greg Kot described it best, recounting the session that spawned “So Alive” for Love & Rockets when he wrote for the L.A. Times in 1989—

The Rockets transformed Ash`s sketchy riff into a moody, atmospheric record with a simmering rhythm track. Its uplifting lyrics were given a sinister twist by Ash`s low-key, baritone delivery. And the clinching touch was provided by several cooing female backup singers, who were added to the track several days after the band`s final session.”

Kevin Haskins also recalled “watching” the lovely harmony vocalists record their gospel tinged vocals as he described— “[…] the total contrast to Daniel`s voice, and it just sent a tingle down our spines.”

Those tingles went from the recording session to the self-titled Love & Rockets LP record and through the radio airwaves which I heard driving in my car as a teenager in San Antonio, 1989.

Ever wonder what Ash thinks about his most famous song “So Alive?” Daniel explained in 2009 when he said. “Oh that was fantastic, I wish I could write more tracks like that! Commercial success is very appealing to me. Sometimes there’s nothing like a three and a half minute pop single.”

“So Alive” is such an out of this universe distinctive hit song for Love & Rockets and one whose rhythmic ripples still fill dance floors, attract punk poets and riff rockers all honoring one of the most memorable pop songs to be a hit single, in a time when Love & Rockets were king of the FM dial in the 1990’s and beyond. So let Daniel Ash’s brilliantly composed Love & Rockets’ “So Alive” resurrects you once again.