1996 was a whirlwind for the Knoxville foursome Superdrag. They had a hit album Regretfully Yours, and the lead single “Sucked Out” was an MTV Buzzclip and arguably, the unofficial song of the summer. After endless touring to support the record and lukewarm reception of the follow-up single “Destination Ursa Major”, Superdrag were ready to start work on their sophomore album. One that would eventually be their finest hour, Head Trip In Every Key.
Worried the rock n’ roll scene would be too distracting, Elektra Records planted the young men in Todd Rundgren’s old rehearsal space in upstate New York miles away from the nearest party.
With the help of Nick Raskulenicz and his trusty 8-track, Superdrag pounded out the skeleton of their most ambitious batch of songs up until that point. The sugary hooks and snotty wit of Regretfully Yours were still present, but it was obvious Head Trip In Every Key was in needed a demanding presence to bring the dream to life. Enter Jerry Finn.
Finn’s no-nonsense approach to recording was just what the doctor ordered. Each track became its own symphony with lush string arrangements, and instrumentation not found on any other rock record at the time. Even the radio-friendly single “Do The Vampire” had guitars larger than life, ready to swallow you whole. Finn not only realized their dream but single-handly helped create the most interesting rock record to come out of the 90s.
However, Elektra was looking for Dookie, NOT Pet Sounds and were less than thrilled with the results.
Be it the lack of confidence or an act of vengence, Elektra cut all funding for Superdrag. With no tour to the support the release or a music video on MTV, Head Trip In Every Key failed to reach the ears of the masses. Most fans of Regretfully Yours didn’t even realize Superdrag had put out a new album. This put a wedge between Superdrag and Elektra. One that would come to a head on their following album In The Valley Of Dying Stars.
Despite not being a mainstream success, Head Trip would gain cult status and become Supedrag’s most beloved album by fans. So much so, SideOneDummy would issue it on vinyl for the first time in 2014. Years after the release, Finn would never abandon his work on that record and up until his passing in 2008, stood behind it 100%. Something Superdrag will never forget.
The pre-Finn rehearsals under Raskulenicz would eventually see a vinyl release as Jokers w/Tracers but fans have been pretty much out of luck when it comes to actual bonus tracks. Until now.
“Bristol Gurls” was produced and recorded by Finn during the Head Trip sessions but sadly no vocals were tracked. Around the 20th anniversary of Head Trip, Superdrag frontman John Davis teamed up with Nashville’s finest producer Mike Purcell, to lay down the vocals on a track that could have very well been the single Head Trip needed to reach the masses.
Davis delivers the John Lennon-meets-Mathew Sweet vocals in 2018 just as he would have under the command of Jerry Finn in 1998. No tricks, no gimmicks. Just a man and a microphone singing the salty lyrics of a song that should have been at the top of the charts. While its bittersweet knowing Finn isn’t around anymore to hear it completed, there’s no better way to celebrate the band, the album, and the man himself, than releasing “Bristol Gurls” on Head Trip’s 20th anniversay.
“Bristol Gurls” is available as a free download on Bandcamp