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Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Nite Retro

Welcome once more to Friday Nite Retro - the weekly feature where I dig up old videos and bios on bands that you've forgotten, and often for good reason! ;) Seriously though, my information on tonight's featured artist is rather thin, although they're still somewhat active.

Louisiana State University students Kevin Griffin (vocals, guitar),Tom Drummond (bass),Cary Bonnecaze (drums),and Joel Rundell (guitar)hooked up in 1987 to form a new band, Better Than Ezra. Their first gigs were expectedly at college bars and frat houses, followed by a debut cassette-only release in 1990, Surprise, which received positive press and comparisons to such alt-punk stalwarts as the Replacements and Dinosaur Jr. But despite the accolades, the group's future was suddenly thrust into doubt when Rundell committed suicide on August 8, 1990.

Immediately following Rundell's passing, the remaining members opted to go their separate ways but reunited by the end of the year. Deciding that a change of scenery would be a good idea, the band relocated to L.A. and got to work on laying down tracks at a friend's home studio, resulting in the 1993 independent release Deluxe.

That album continued to raise the band's profile, resulting in several major labels vying to sign them. The band went with Electra which reissued Deluxe two years after its original release, and spawning the sizeable radio hit "Good," which went platinum by the end of 1995.


In the Blood

The latest lineup of Better Than Ezra entered the recording studio shortly after welcoming a new member into the fold and issued their second major-label release, Friction, Baby, in 1996. Although the album was comparable musically to its predecessor, it failed to match the commercial success of Deluxe, as the album came and went rather quickly on the charts. You'll likely remember these two efforts from that album:


King of New Orleans

In 1996, the band contributed "Conjunction Junction" to the Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks tribute album based on the Emmy Award-winning animated TV series, Schoolhouse Rock!. Two years later they contributed to The X-Files soundtrack album.

Desperately Wanting

At the Stars

"Extra Ordinary" was the first single from the album Closer. It was also featured in a McDonald's television commercial that aired during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Lead singer Kevin Griffin said that the song was about the simple things in life: "I wanted to write lyrics that kind of encapsulated a picture of the current events of my life or anybody's life and just use very common visual images like 'soap on a rope' and 'smart as Bobby Fischer.' You know, it's about just spending the day with somebody you love and hanging out with really no agenda at all. And just being happy."

Extra Ordinary

Check out the band's website and see all that they've been doing to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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