Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: ‘Camera One’ by Josh Joplin Group

brent johnson digs up another lost treasure, this week from the Josh Joplin Group …

It’s an era that didn’t have the historical significance of the British Invasion, the divisiveness of disco, the coolness of funk or the seismic cultural shift of grunge.

But think back to the mid-to-late-’90s. Guitars actually anchored pop music. Rock bands actually populated the Top 10. And though not revolutionary or overly experimental, sturdy songs — not dance beats, novelty lyrics or meat dresses — were the focal point of the music. It was a solid, underrated time in pop.

The Josh Joplin Group technically wasn’t part of that era. They released their only hit, ‘Camera One,’ in early 2001. But it was one of the last singles to sound like it: taut, tuneful, with an instantly memorable chorus and slow-churn guitars. Produced by Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison, it’s simply a good song. And as Semisonic, The Verve Pipe, Third Eye Blind, Fastball, Better Than Ezra, Nada Surf and The Wallflowers would all attest to, that used to be all you needed.

But would a track like this even scrape Top 40 radio or VH1 playlists these days? Probably not. (Then again, does VH1 even have playlists anymore?)

In fact, the tide was already see-sawing by the time ‘Camera One’ was released. It was a modest hit then, reaching the upper reaches of only the alternative charts. Still, it makes me miss that underrated era all the more.