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With name like Jason & the Scorchers, a couple breakdowns are to be expected



What makes for a good single and what makes for a good album cut? Sometimes knowing the difference of which song to release as a single can be a complicated mess. It's almost enough to cause a band to have their 19th Nervous Breakdown.

Back in the '60s, artists would often release singles and not put them on their albums. The strategy was that some songs were radio friendly and you sell them separately as a single while songs with questionable lyrics or longer than 2:30 were packaged for the "real" fans on the album. After the '70s, the model changed as singles were included on albums and designed to entice the listener to buy the more expensive album, thus creating a high-pressured decision on which singles to release to generate more album sales.

It was that dilemma that EMI faced with Jason & the Scorchers in 1986. After years of critical success, the record label was needing breakout sales numbers for the new Scorchers album Still Standing. While chalk full of great originals, the record label safely opted to go with a cover song as the first promotional video and single - 19th Nervous Breakdown. In 1966, the Rolling Stones released 19th Nervous Breakdown as a single only. Hot on the heels of number one songs released in 1965 like (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction and Get Off My Cloud, the song reached No. 2 on the charts and became a classic.

When Jason & the Scorchers released 19th Nervous Breakdown it went nowhere as rock stations wouldn't play it because it was too country and country stations wouldn't play it because it rocked too hard and MTV just aired it a few times before shelving. The song that should have been the first single - Golden Ball and Chain - was released next and did make it to No. 16 on the Mainstream Rock Charts, but the lackluster sales numbers ended up getting the Scorchers dropped by EMI.

The video for 19th Nervous Breakdown is still fun and Warner Hodges guitar playing sound like a runaway train. In hindsight, the song was better served as an album track and treated as just another cover song by the Scorchers. Because their sound was so unique, the Scorchers were always ripe for recording cover songs and every album included a few of them with some of the highlights being Bob Dylan's Absolutely Sweet Marie and a manic version of John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2016 9:00am]


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