There are many enduring mysteries from the 1980s. Why did people like Ronald Reagan? What did he know about Iran Contra and when? Was The Safety Dance a real dance like The Twist or The Mashed Potato or a metaphor for nuclear war? Who let Bruce Willis record an album?
But perhaps the greatest mystery of all is why Tommy Keene--a man who wrote some of the catchiest pop songs imaginable--failed to break through to a mass audience while acts like Mr. Mister were able to rule the charts.
I was lucky to be exposed to Tommy Keene through a local "progressive rock" radio station, WHFS in Annapolis, MD. Tommy Keene was a D.C. area fixture, and WHFS played his music alongside Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw, Nick Lowe, and others.
Back in 1993 Alias Records did the world the favor of compiling some of Keene's pre-Geffen material and some unreleased material on The Real Underground CD. "Nothing Happened Yesterday" was originally released on the excellent Places That Are Gone EP, while the wonderful cover of the Who's "Tattoo" first appeared on the CD. Keene's latest release is a collaboration with Guided By Voices' Bob Pollard.