Adam’s Farm – Rock Music Machine (1994)

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The now-defunct Dallas-area group Adam’s Farm was this nifty blending of popular music that still resonates with me, more than a decade after they split.

Band motto: If they can’t take a joke, folk ’em. Well, at first anyway. Adam’s Farm started out as a respectible set of earnest, well-meaning acoustics. Then they took a left turn in early January 1992 when Jeff Whittington picked up a Marshall amp and a distortion pedal.

Along the way, they once again showed that, when held in the right hands, pop is an endlessly appealing, yet still challenging proposition.

There was a furious songcraft to Rock Music Machine — now apparently out of print on Rainmaker Records — along with some of the age-appropriate knitted brows and a touch of real danger.

“Want In,” for instance, is genuinely nasty, a driving example of what made this group special. They take a shot at the Lemonheads, too. Even more traditionally folkie pieces like “Fulsom” have a sneering guitar deep in the mix, making for a pleasantly rumbling sound texture. Like Neil Young, but with updated threads.

It made sense, then, that Whittington’s “twenty-five pin connector” — a solo record from a few years ago, it was initially only available by e-mail from homonculous98@hotmail.com — closes with a stripped down version of the Psychedelic Furs’ “Heaven.” Or that he performed as part of the 2006 experimental theater tribute “Waiting for a Train: The Life and Songs of Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music.” Or that his next band grew out of a shared moment with a Beatles tune.

Whittington, who has such a solid, unironic way of singing, apparently tried moving into straight life, working as a “special-events coordinator” for a television station. But his frisky infatuation with song brought him back to the stage — this time with Toby Pipes from Deep Blue Something (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) as the Hundred Inevitables.

Adam’s Farm had opened for Deep Blue at the height of its one-hit-wonderdom, and Whittington would often join them onstage for the encore, which included “Dear Prudence.” Pipes and Whittington later recorded “Trampoline” and “Kind to Hold” from “twenty-five pin.”

Paul Nugent’s Rainmaker Records also put out some Nixons stuff. The old Adam’s Farm rhythm section, bassist Mark Hedman and drummer Matt Pence, subsequently helped form Centro-matic.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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