There was a musical variety show for hipsters called NIGHT MUSIC somewhere around ’89 through ’90. I can’t remember if this was syndicated or if it was an NBC show that was on after SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (which I rarely watched after 1991). Anyhow, at this point when alternative rock music was still not heard much on the radio and the mainstream explosion of Nirvana was still a ways off on the horizon, there were some rock groups that fit pretty well into a line-up that included jazz players, old blues musicians, and artsy experimentalists. The never mainstream Pere Ubu was at their most mainstream right then, and showed up in an episode that I missed at the time. This is a pretty catchy song for such a weird band, and they perform it well. The singer’s stomping of invisible, imaginary bugs is a hoot.
To the best of my knowledge, Guadalcanal Diary never showed up on NIGHT MUSIC, but they should have. By the late ’80s there were a number of alternative jangle bands like The Katydids, Let’s Active, and the sometimes philosophical Guadalcanal Diary, named for some reason after the movie and novel that documented one of the U.S. Marine Corps’ key moments in WWII. All of these bands were at least as good as R.E.M., with mostly better vocalists, and without the self-pity tendencies that sometimes brought down The Smiths. Some people claim that this song was borrowed heavily in another song by country mega-band Alabama, but I haven’t explored that and have no opinion.