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.