Illustration from Widows, Grave and Otherwise by Cora Willmarth, c. 1903
Sex Clark Five may have been last in line the day God handed out band names, but they make up for it in other ways. Actually, the fact that they named their highly-regarded debut album Strum and Drum! (a play on the term "sturm and drang") says something about their fondness for corny puns. Nevertheless, "strum and drum" says most of what you need to know about Sex Clark Five. The Alabama band started recording the '80s, writing short snippet-songs built on a backbone of rhythm guitar and propulsive drumming. They topped their lo-fi concoctions with Beatlesy vocals to complete their formula. It's a sound that became common in the mid-90s indie scene, but Sex Clark Five were very much doing their own thing when they released Strum and Drum! in 1987.
The album is legendary in some circles - Carl Newman of the New Pornographers called it one of his very favorite records - which makes it a mystery why it's been out of print for years. I bought a vinyl copy on eBay a couple years ago, expecting that to be the only way I'd every obtain it. But now, out of nowhere, it has been reissued on CD by Maryatt Music Group, who I've never heard of. Regardless, these guys deserve a medal of some kind for releasing Strum and Drum! in an expanded reissue with two of the band's essential EPs and a couple random singles and unreleased tracks. The album sounds as good as ever, with at least a dozen pop classics clocking in a less than two minutes each. One of the best is "Modern Fix" which contains the classic line, "Let's take all our gimmicks and put them in one box, and trade it for a bag of tube socks!" Buy Strum and Drum (plus Rarities) at Maryatt Music.
"Modern Fix" by Sex Clark Five