The Pursuit of Happiness: “Consciousness Raising as a Social Tool”
You’ve just got to wonder why a song with the title “Consciousness Raising as a Social Tool” wasn’t a huge hit. It rolls off the tongue so easily. But inexplicable as that may be, The Pursuit of Happiness did in fact have a minor hit, “I’m an Adult Now,” off of their debut album, 1988’s Love Junk (which this song also came from). It was a pretty big hit on college radio and other alternative stations (I remember it getting a lot of play on Boston’s WFNX at the time), with its wryly funny lyrics of getting “old” (lead singer and songwriter Moe Berg was all of 29 at the time). Definitely search it out — it’s a great, catchy, and funny song.
Love Junk was produced by musician and producer extraordinaire, Todd Rundgren, and in fact sounds very much like a good Utopia album (Rundgren’s band when he wasn’t recording solo). How much that has to do with Rundgren’s production, the influence of Rundgren on Berg’s songwriting, or Berg’s vocal resemblance to Utopia’s Kasim Sulton remains up for debate. But whatever the case, it’s a strong album of power-pop that was one of the better releases of its year. It has since lost a bit of its overall appeal for me in the years since, sounding slightly dated now, but my favorite song on the album, the rocking “Consciousness Raising as a Social Tool,” still sounds great all these years later. After the jangly intro, it kicks into the loud, crunching guitar chords that are still pretty undeniable, and Berg’s voice is put to its best use here. Occasionally a bit on the reedy side, it works well with the song’s melody and power. There are only a couple of verses to this song, basically a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that some people turn to social activism in order to make friends (actually some truth to that, I’m sure). But with the song rocking out as hard as it does, the lyrics here are actually pretty secondary to the song’s overall attraction. Kick it!