I was winding down my college days at the University of Georgia when local Athens band Five Eight dropped their spectacular “I Learned Shut Up” debut in 1992. Granted, I’m always a bit biased toward outfits hailing from the Classic City, but I was convinced that the Mike Mantione-fronted outfit was on the verge of stardom. It didn’t happen, unfortunately, but Five Eight went on to carve out a respectable — if unheralded — career with a handful of quality records to their credit.
The band’s 1994 release, “Weirdo,” is getting the deluxe reissue treatment from the folks at Chicken Ranch, complete with five bonus tracks. While the tunes admittedly sound a little dated 21 years later, I remain surprised (and a little disappointed) that Five Eight never hit it big.
“When I turned in the finished mixes to the (Sky Records) A&R man, he listened, called me and said, ‘You have made a great record.,’” original producer David Barbe recalls. “His opinion would change. I believed that the hyped, over-processed records of the early ‘90s were going to sound hopelessly dated in time. He wanted Five Eight to give him his own ‘Nevermind,’ and this was not it.”
That “Weirdo” didn’t ascend to the same lofty heights as that Nirvana breakthrough doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Among the highlights here are “Karaoke,” “Behead Myself,” “What They Did,” “Stars” and the title track. Among the bonus cuts, “Drummer Divorce,” “Strings” and “The Only One” are the ones you’ll remember. (Jeffrey Sisk)