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Nice Talking to Me

Spin Doctors

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Album Review

Not long after the 1999 release of their fourth album, Here Comes the Bride, the Spin Doctors disbanded, due to a combination of disinterest and a remarkable patch of bad luck highlighted by lead vocalist Chris Barron losing his voice in a case of vocal cord paralysis. A couple years later, Barron had healed and the original lineup tentatively started a comeback, playing a few live gigs and beginning the long road back to their fifth album, 2005's Nice Talking to Me. To say that Nice Talking to Me is the group's best studio album since their 1991 debut, Pocket Full of Kryptonite, isn't saying much — success hit the band hard and they had trouble coming up with memorable material after Pocket Full of Kryptonite unexpectedly turned into Top Ten hit, and their attempts to either freshen up their sound or have another hit were often embarrassing. Nevertheless, Nice Talking to Me is their best album since their debut, for one simple reason: they're not trying too hard, they've simply come up with a set of 11 songs and play them simply and directly. These 11 tunes aren't that far removed from the songs on Pocket Full of Kryptonite — they're loose-limbed, bluesy boogie rockers, songs ideal for a party or a good night out at a bar. There's nothing nearly as catchy or memorable as the big hits "Two Princes" and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," but "My Problem Now" and "Tonight You Could Steal Me Away" come close, and the rest of the record has many vocal and guitar hooks, certainly more so than on their albums of the late '90s. Thanks to producer Matt Wallace, the Spin Doctors have a heavier, harder attack here than they did 14 years ago, but that helps them sound like more of a rock band than a noodling jam band, which is a welcome change. That said, Nice Talking to Me isn't going to change anybody's mind about the band — there's still an undercurrent of smarmy humor to some of their tunes, Barron's voice still can sound a bit too close to a hippie Muppet, and the good-time vibe that has gone unchanged in a decade and a half will inevitably strike some as irritatingly shallow — but those who have been longtime fans will find that the group has not only made a good comeback with Nice Talking to Me, but have finally delivered a satisfying sequel to their debut after all these years.

Biography

Formed: 1988 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

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

There were many pseudo-hippie, jam-oriented blues rockers in New York during the early '90s, but only the Spin Doctors made it big. And they made it big because not only could they immerse themselves in a groove, they also had concise pop skills. "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes" were cleverly written singles, full of clean, blues-inflected licks and ingratiating pop melodies. Pocket Full of Kryptonite had been around for nearly a year when MTV and radio began playing "Little Miss...
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