Oh, to be in artist/photographer Nick Waplington's shoes in 1996 when the phone rang.
It was American rock band Fountains of Wayne, who wanted to purchase the exclusive license to one of his photographs for use as the cover for their Atlantic Records debut.
Being an "artist/photographer", the phone call was probably one of those "I have arrived" moments, bringing with it a check that we can only hope had enough zeroes to make the tellers at the bank do a double-take.
Meanwhile, back in America, Fountains of Wayne, were probably thrilled to have secured the exclusive rights to a photo that they could now slap on albums, tour shirts, and posters.
Heck, maybe Waplington's nostalgia-heavy snapshot of a kid in a homemade Superman outfit could do for them what Kirk Weddle's photograph of an infant in a swimming pool had done for Nirvana.
British band Flamingoes probably had those same thoughts the previous year, when they purchased the exclusive license to the exact same photograph from Waplington for use on their album Plastic Jewels, which then saw release throughout the UK, Japan and Europe in 1995.
This explains how I came to purchase both albums sight-unseen from the same dollar promo bin at Denver's Wax Trax! the week Fountains of Wayne's album came out. Seeing the two albumsI figured, at the very least, there had to be a good story why the same photo appeared on two different albums coming out at roughly the same time and destined to be stuck in the same "F- Misc" bin.
While it remains to be confirmed when the members of Fountains of Wayne became aware of the other album's existence, its fair to say that it was after Atlantic Records had pressed up tens of thousands of copies and released the album. GLOBALLY.
Oh, to be in artist/photographer Nick Waplington's shoes when the phone rang again in 1996.
It was Fountains of Wayne and the profanity ratio of this conversation was probably a lot higher. We can't help but wonder how far Waplington must have had to hold the phone away from his ear as one or more members of Fountains of Wayne and/or Atlantic Records' legal department made Waplington's own arse non-exclusive by tearing him a new one.
When asked at the time about the potential for legal action by one or both bands, Jude Cook from Flamingoes replied: "I think we both hope the other band will sink without a trace."
Sadly for him, one did.
We don't mean "sadly" in a coy "sucks to be you" manner, either, because Flamingoes' Plastic Jewels is actually a feisty record that is every bit as retro-cool as Fountains Of Wayne, but seems forever doomed to remain the "other" album that uses the same Nick Waplington photo as Fountains of Wayne.
Hindsight being 20/20, both bands probably should should worked together behind the scenes to maximize the "scandal potential" for tons of free press attention. Then they could have pretended to bury the hatchet and toured together.
Or maybe they'll do just that after this story catches fire and single-handedly re-ignites interest in what we both know are actually two sorely overlooked albums.
Sure, Fountains of Wayne wound up having a hit with "Stacy's Mom" many moons later, but that first record was an alt. rock radio programmer's wet dream and should have been a game-changer.