Tuesday, January 28, 2020

'80s Hellscape: 'Frank & Cindy' And Life After OXO!


What is wrong with me that not only do I recall every nuance of listening to a great album, but also the not-so-great ones? Take '80s band OXO, whose debut album wowed me with its Geffen logo (a label that could do no wrong at the time), but left my ears completely conflicted.

Even before the band's fateful appearance on American Bandstand, I was continually spinning that record in hopes of getting some understanding of just who this fucking OXO was and what they were all about.

The sticker on the album cover made it clear that "Whirly Girl" was the focus track.

On first listen, I found the tune to be the sort of hit that could do more harm than good to your career unless you had nine more songs just like it. After listening to the rest of the band's self-titled debut album, I could tell you without question that they did not have nine songs just like it.

OXO circa 1983, Frank Garcia far right
That's not to say the album sucked. In fact, quite the opposite was true, but just the mere presence of such a song as "Whirly Girl" seemed to throw the legitimacy of everything else into question.

And so this rust belt teenager went back to listening to his Siouxsie & The Banshees, Peter Gabriel, and Ric Ocasek albums - all on Geffen Records!

Decades later, after something made me think of OXO the other day, I re-listened to OXO's sole Geffen release on Spotify ad was delighted to find that the album was everything I remember: a great little new wave record with just enough darkness around the edges ruined by one song: "Whirly Girl".

Further Googling revealed that nobody in the band did much of anything in the music business afterwards and that the band's bass player, Frank Garcia, and his wife seemed to be the subject of an episode of "This American Life" that I had somehow totally missed.

My curiosity was piqued and, as is happening more and more these days, a few keystrokes confirmed that YouTube had the entire episode.



The producers at "This American Life" (2007-2009 Showtime) had received a bunch of footage shot by an unknown filmmaker whose intent, at least initially, had been to humiliate his no-good alcoholic step dad, who just so happens to be Frank Garcia, the former bass player for OXO.

My heart immediately sank, but I hit 'PLAY' anyway.

I could write about what I saw, but I'm still processing it. Plus, why should my lame prose taint your experience when you could just hit 'PLAY' like I did and form your own opinion?

Where you choose to go from there is up to you, but I'll bet that it leads you to tell at least one other person about what you saw and to maybe watch a movie starring Oliver Platt and Rene Russo that you didn't even know existed (it's on Netflix, by the way).

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