120 Reasons To Live: Straitjacket Fits

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#67: Straitjacket Fits “Hail”

For some reason, describing Straitjacket Fits as “a second-wave Flying Nun band” seems like it might not mean much to 99.9 percent of any demographic. Better put, the Dunedin quartet was a really good New Zealand band in a long line of really good New Zealand bands that stretched back to the early ’80s. 1988’s “Hail” isn’t the best Fits track (fairly sure the comments section won’t come alive with a debate on what is the group’s best song, but more surprising things have happened), but it paints the picture: noisy, twisted-up guitars trying in vain to bury some perfectly nice melody. A double bill of the La’s and Straitjacket Fits toured the U.S. in the early ’90s; that’s one reason we’re still working on a time machine.

Worth seeking out: 1999’s Take In The Sun by Bike, led by Straitjacket Fits singer/guitarist Andrew Brough. Reasonably priced on Amazon, but surely available from other retailers as well.

13 replies on “120 Reasons To Live: Straitjacket Fits”

Yes! Thank you for remembering the Fits. This song gives me the same headrush as it did back then. Hail and Melt are timeless classics, the soundtrack to my college years. Hope a new generation discovers this criminally overlooked band.

Maybe it’s not their best, but “Cast Stone,” written about the late Wayne Elsey of Shayne Carter’s pre-Fits band the DoubleHappys, still gives me chills.

Also worth seeking out: the four albums so far by Dimmer, Shayne Carter’s post-Fits band. The Dimmer albums are: I Believe You Are A Star, You’ve Got To Hear The Music, There My Dear and Degrees Of Existence.

John is correct, “Life in One Chord” is the best SJF song; there is only one right answer there, but few wrong ones. I saw the Mpls date of that tour with the La’s, who were pleasant enough but got upended by the openers (presumably nightly). Nerdily got my copy of “Hail” signed by all; flash to last summer and I’m watching the Stanley Cup Finals in an East Village bar with Shayne Carter. Dreams can come true?

RIP David Wood, Fits bassist.

I’d have to go with ‘She speeds’, because of the intensity, the glorious, euphoric way the melody soars in the chorus, or maybe just because it was the first Straitjacket Fits song I heard.
Saw them live once on the ‘Noisyland’ tour: a triple bill featuring JPS Experience, Straitjacket Fits and the Bats. Now that was an evening well spent…

These are all great songs, “Down in Splendor”, “Life in One Chord”. Another favorite of mine is “A.P.S.” Clearly their best album is the second, Melt.

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