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Album Review

Toad the Wet Sprocket was among the best and most popular of the adult alternative pop/rockers of the early '90s. They harnessed R.E.M.'s jangle pop, smoothed it out, and turned it into something pretty, melodic, and accessible to a wide audience. Toad the Wet Sprocket never was as idiosyncratic or edgy as R.E.M., so they could reach a totally different audience, comprised equally of politically correct collegiates and housewives. Their third album, Fear, arrived in the late summer of 1991 (after R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion"), and they benefited from radio's new willingness to play alternative bands, as "All I Want" and "Walk on the Ocean" became staples on modern rock and adult contemporary stations alike. Their long-delayed follow-up Dulcinea appeared in 1994, and while it spawned the hit "Fall Down," it failed to capture the same audience as Fear. Their fifth album, 1997's Coil, did even worse, and the group disbanded the following year. Such a brief span of hitmaking years makes Toad the Wet Sprocket a perfect choice for a hits collection, which P.S.: A Toad Retrospective almost is. It has all the hits, plus many of the fan favorites, but not necessarily in the versions people know. There's a new version of the title track, remixes of "All I Want" and "Hold Her Down," the "non-album" version of "Jam," an edit of "Somethings Always Wrong" — not necessarily differences that are that noticeable, but are still a little disconcerting, and ultimately enough to make P.S. less than perfect. The alternate versions feel like misguided attempts to hook in die-hard fans (who may already own most of these takes), and while they're not alienating, they're not right, either. Nevertheless, it's still a good, basic collection — enough to satisfy most casual fans, since it has the hits on one disc.

Biography

Formed: 1986 in Santa Barbara, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Named in honor of a sketch by the Monty Python comedy troupe, Toad the Wet Sprocket became one of the most successful alternative rock bands of the early '90s, boasting a contemporary folk-pop sound that wielded enough melody and R.E.M.-styled jangle to straddle both the modern rock and adult contemporary markets. Singer Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning (the nephew of '50s hitmaker Mark "Teen Angel" Dinning), and drummer Randy Guss formed the group in 1986 in their native...
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P.S., Toad the Wet Sprocket
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