20 years later: looking back at Local H’s As Good As Dead

Local H As Good As Dead

Local H is touring this summer in honor of the 20th anniversary of As Good As Dead, the band’s hit album that included the mega hit “Bound for the Floor.” They’ll be playing that album in its entirety—and playing some other material as well, I imagine—and I’ll be there in person when they hit St. Louis next month.

So this seemed like as good a time as any to look back on As Good As Dead, a CD I can safely say I’ve owned for more than two decades. I bought CDs obsessively during my middle school and high school years and later ended up selling off probably three-fourths of my collection at a record store in college, but As Good As Dead was one I never even considered getting rid of. I’ve always loved this record; in fact, it’s one of the very few records from that entire era that I have gone back to again and again over the years. I would even go as far as to say it’s my favorite 90s rock album not released by one of the big 5 “grunge” bands (you know the ones: Nirvana, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains).

Why do I like it so much? Because it’s freaking awesome, that’s why! Oh … you wanted more specifics? Let’s just go track by track, shall we?

  1. Manifest Density Pt. 1

Local H jam-packed this album with so many great songs that even the 50-second intro is memorable. You’re on to something good, Scott Lucas sings, but I can’t believe it’s all that matters to you. And then it leads immediately into the opening drums of …

  1. High-Fiving MF

“High-Fiving MF” is one of the album’s loudest, most aggressive moments. Like a lot of the lyrics on As Good As Dead, it sounds like the target of this track’s vicious attacks is people Lucas grew up with, and he absolutely does not hold back. Listening now, the lyrics maybe sound just a tad over the top, but I think that’s probably part of what Lucas was going for. And when I was listening to this at 12 and 13 years old, the angry lyrics got me all kinds of excited and ready to throw something across the room. (What can I say? Teenagers are weird.)

  1. Bound for the Floor

Yep, this one was the big hit! “Bound for the Floor,” with its super catchy riff, was everywhere in 1996 and taught an entire generation of kids what the word “copacetic” means. It’s also an excellent song that holds up remarkably well. Listen to other smash singles from this era—“Counting Blue Cars,” for example—and it’s often hard to even get through the song without getting a headache from rolling your eyes so hard. This one, though? It’s still great!  

  1. “Lovey Dovey”

Something I love about As Good As Dead is the way one song immediately gives way to the next. Case in point: the way “Bound for the Floor” transitions to “Lovey Dovey.” This isn’t necessarily the album’s greatest moment or anything, but Lucas shouting, I wanna cut you down! is something that has been stuck in my head for 20 years now, and it makes me really wonder what good ol’ Dave and Heather have been up to all this time.

  1. I Saw What You Did and I Know Who You Are

Looking over the tracklist before I started writing this article, “I Saw What You Did and I Know Who You Are” was the only song I couldn’t immediately remember by its title. Once it started, of course, I knew exactly what it was. Maybe “Laugh Out Loud” would have made more sense as a title? Or “Turning Sour by the Hour”? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. This song kills, and I love it when things slow down over a palm-muted riff at about 1:45. More aggression that has actually aged well over the years instead of making me feel embarrassed!

  1. No Problem

“No Problem” is the album’s ballad, and it’s a beautiful one at that. It’s not a ballad in the generic sense, of course; he’s not rhyming “love” with “above” over a cheesy violin part or something. But on an album this fast and this explosive, when the acoustic guitar comes out and things slow down, it counts as “the ballad,” even if it does get ultra heavy—like we’re talking stoner metal levels of slow heaviness here— with about a minute left.

  1. Nothing Special

Not too much to say about this one other than, damn, “No Problem” into “Nothing Special” is yet another great transition on this album. Local H deserves a lot of praise for the way they sequenced As Good As Dead, and it makes me extra excited to see it all live in person from beginning to end.

  1. Eddie Vedder

If I was Eddie Vedder, would you like me any better? might just be the lyric of the album, huh? This was a minor hit for the band as well, at least on the midwest alternative radio I was listening at the time. I wonder what Mr. Vedder thought about it; I would imagine he got a good laugh out of it, but maybe the Ticketmaster feud had him too worked up at the time.

Like “Bound for the Floor,” “Eddie Vedder” finds Local H slowing things down just a tad while still maintaining its raw edge.

  1. Back in the Day

Oh man. This is probably my favorite song on the record, and I can specifically remember listening to it on the school bus as loud as my portable CD player would allow. I don’t think they played this when I saw them live back in the early 2000s, and it’s probably for the best … if they had, I think I would have just started punching people all around me without even thinking. I’m an old man now, so I think I’ll probably just bang my head and drink a beer when they play it this time around.

  1. Freeze-Dried (F)Lies

“Freeze-Dried (F)Lies” is fairly straightforward, with Lucas creating a huge, distorted sound and slowing things down with a bassline that seems to be in no particular hurry to do much of anything but thum-thum-thum-thump along at its own leisure. (Also: are those shakers? Maracas? Or am I just losing my mind?)

  1. Fritz’s Corner

I’m not mad, Lucas yells, I’m just bored! This was another minor radio hit for Local H, getting played enough that I don’t think it’s fair to ever even think about calling them a one-hit wonder. I haven’t called out drummer Joe Daniels yet, so I should mention that he’s great on this entire album. He especially stands out here, freezing his cymbals for added dramatic effect several times throughout the song.

Oh yeah, and another great lyric from “Fritz’s Corner”: One more thing before I go: I stepped over everyone I know!

  1. O.K.

“O.K.” is one of the album’s strongest moments. Local H follows that traditional “soft verse/loud chorus” formula you heard so frequently in the mid-to-late 90s, yet stretches things out for more than six minutes, building a sense of suspense and tension you never got from, say, a three-minute Nirvana track. This is a song I honestly forget about a lot when I listen to As Good As Dead, but once “Fritz’s Corner” is over and I realize “O.K.” is up next, I always make sure to crank up the volume just a little bit more.

  1. Manifest Density Pt. 2

Part of me wonders if “O.K” would have made more sense as a final track, but I probably shouldn’t get picky now about an album sequenced as well as this one is; I think Local H proved they knew what they were doing. I do love how it connects back to the intro, and if you’re listening on repeat, it’s kind of neat to hear Part 2 and then immediately have Part 1 begin.

One final note: After obsessing over this album enough, I eventually went out and tracked down Local H’s debut album, 1995’s Ham Fisted, and it’s a lot of fun as well. Not quite as polished, sure, but Lucas still packs a lot of punch with both his forceful vocals and his army of loud guitars. The band’s more recent records are great, too—heck, I highly recommend anything Local H has ever done!

Listen below …

 

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