Soul Coughing – Ruby Vroom


I wish I could remember who in the hell turned me on to Soul Coughing.  I can’t even remember when I discovered them (Damn you, college!), although it had to be sometime after 1994 when they dropped their seminal first album “Ruby Vroom.”

Soul Coughing would make three albums before credit disputes and band infighting broke them up in 2000, including “Irresistible Bliss” and “El Oso.”  But neither of the last two matched the energy or unique qualities of “Ruby Vroom.”  Oft considered one of the more original cult bands of the 90’s, Soul Coughing’s sound can best be described as hip hop, electronic, spoken word jazz.  Lead singer M Doughty called it “Deep slacker jazz,” which I guess is as good a description as any.

Formed in 1992 when Doughty met sampler player Mark Di Gli Antoni, the duo sampled a lot of works by artist’s like Carl Stalling (his music backed most of the classic Looney Toons for Warner Brothers), Raymond Scott and an eclectic mix of artist to create what would become the basis for Soul Coughing’s sound.  Soon they added bass player Sebastian Steinberg, and drummer Yuval Gabay and started playing gigs at the Knitting Factory.  Shortly after, they were signed by Slash Records.

I think the only Single “Ruby” spawned was ‘Screenwriters Blues,’ also known as my sound track to driving home from Hollywood at 3 in the morning(see video below!).  You may also recognize it from a recent KCRW ad campaign in LA (or whatever passes for KCRW in your city).

I also love ‘Sugar Free Jazz,’ ‘True Dreams of Wichitah’ and ‘Blue-eyed Devil.’

While I was disappointed that the band broke up, I have to say I was even more disappointed that Doughty signed on with Dave Matthews label and is making really sappy Dave Matthews type music now.  It’s like he said “Gosh, I’m tired of making songs that rule, what I’ve really wanted to do all my life is make songs that suck,  It’s time to follow my dreams!!!”

Yeah, I think the internal conversation went something like that.

(Side note to Dave Matthews fans:  I like Dave Matthews…I really do.  It’s just that after ‘Crash’  he seems hell bent on boring me.  I got dragged to one his shows in San Diego once and I fell asleep.  I wasn’t even tired!!! It wasn’t until they did an encore with “All Along the Watchtower’ that I woke up and became vaguely aware that something was rocking.)



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