“God Shuffled His Feet” by Crash Test Dummies (No. 62)

Album insert: Brad Roberts "painting"You have to love an album that asks the important questions, like how does a duck know which direction south is, and whether you have to get your hair cut in heaven. God Shuffled His Feet is full of little things to ponder, and strong pop tendencies.

The Crash Test Dummies were all over the place in the early 90s with singles off God Shuffled His Feet. If you were around in 1993-1994, and watched MTV or listened to alternative and top 40 stations, you almost certainly caught “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.” Catchy, but with distinctly subversive lyrics, I still love this one even though it got a bit of backlash – probably due to its omnipresence on different radio formats.

I remember playing “Afternoons & Coffeespoons” pretty often as well during my first radio gig with KSLQ in Washington, MO. I might have even played cuts by the Crash Test Dummies a little more often than strictly recommended by the play sheets.

The most distinctive feature of God Shuffled His Feet is undoubtedly Brad Roberts’ bass-baritone voice. Throughout the album he hugs the lower registers and delivers the Dummies’ unusual lyrics with gravitas.

The entire album feels like a lazy Sunday afternoon to me. Even the more upbeat numbers have a slightly ponderous, heavy feel to them thanks to Roberts voice.

“The Psychic” is one of my favorite cuts on this album. It’s a spare arrangement of acoustic guitar, piano, and Roberts lead vocals and Ellen Reid’s backing vocals. It’s a tale of a man who encounters a psychic whose visions “cuts like a knife.” It’s a haunting tune with echoes of the Dummies’ “Superman’s Song” from their first album.

“When I Go Out With Artists” wrestles with questions about art and not being able to see “all the symbols” in modern art. It’s also a fine pop song with great guitar playing and dexterous drumming and bass work. In fact, on all the songs, the band’s chops are unassailable.

I haven’t kept up with the Crash Test Dummies very well since God Shuffled His Feet. Their next album didn’t really resonate with me that much, and I lost track of the band after that. But God Shuffled His Feet is a classic and should be on any list of “best albums of the 90s.” It also is one of the 100 albums I’d reach for if, and I hope this never happens, I had to choose only 100 for the rest of my days.

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