October 2000 and I’m a relatively regular reader of Uncut Magazine, scouring their Unconditionally Guaranteed CD each month for the one or two tracks that will make me sit up and pay attention as is usually the way with such free, on-the-cover comps. There’s only one track on this one, though but I fell in love with it and promptly ordered the album it was pulled from. It was Taillights Fade by Buffalo Tom.
A three-piece from Boston, Buffalo Tom got going in the mid-eighties. Their first two albums were produced by (and featured the odd guitar line from)Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis. It’s safe to say they got a second-go-around following the surge in interest in ‘alt-rock’ in the early nineties and their third album Let Me Come Over not only marked an increase in popularity but a change in sound; less fuzz, sharper lyrics, a clearer sound and melodies you could hang your hat on. In the nineties they crafted hugely powerful, deftly-written songs, each subsequent album containing a strong blend of crunching rockers and delicate acoustics with soulful and intelligent lyrics sewn into songs that make you wonder how the hell they weren’t huge singles.
Taillights Fade is taken from that big-leap-forward third album.
From the sound of the hand slipping up the neck I was hooked. From a gentle strum behind the lead figure to a fuller throttle thump, this song builds and builds, adding more with every listen. It’s a lovelorn song with one hell of a tune. In fact everything about this song – from the music to the lyrics to the mix is spot-fucking-on.
Sister, can you hear me now
The ringing in your ears
I’m down on the ground
My luck’s been dry for years
I’m lost in the dark
And I feel like a dinosaur
Broken face and broken hands
I’m a broken man
I’ve hit the wall, I’m about to fall
But I’m closing in on it
I feel so weak on a losing streak
Watch my taillights fade to black
Sadly – at least for seven years until returning with Three Easy Pieces – by the time I got my ears wrapped around this, they were done as a band. Typical timing on my behalf but it meant I was able to go on and complete the back catalogue. While this song opened doors into their cannon for me, Asides From is almost certainly the most played album within my collection and one I whole heartedly recommend getting hold of as a starting point.