It might surprise some people that this group are going to be featured in this series, as they don’t sound much like anything I usually enjoy, but here’s how I became interested in this one. In the summer of 1998, when I was in my early-teens, I was still discovering what radio stations I might like to listen to, and my favourite genres. Even as late as this, I had barely listened to BBC Radio 1 or Capital, but over the next few years I would eventually become a much more regular listener.
Around this time I listened to Virgin, which played new songs along with classic album tracks, mostly in the rock/indie genres. I remember that they played a new song very regularly. It seemed to be on all the time for a while (well not all the time of course, but for a short while they were very keen on it), so this really did begin to grow on me, I always knew it was coming on because of its distinctive radio static opening, and it became something of an earworm (“they’ll never get old and grey!“). So who were they?
Fastball are an American trio that formed in Austin, Texas in 1995, and their first album was released in 1996. In October 1998, “The Way”, from their second album “All The Pain Money Can Buy”, was released in the UK, and this was the song that led to their breakthrough in the US, so there was a chance that it could do well over here too, but although they didn’t realise it at the time, this was going to be this group’s only hit single in this country.
They performed this on a few US TV shows including Late Night With Conan O’Brien, they were nominated for a couple of Grammys, and the video, which has had over 2½ million views on YouTube was directed by McG (who would also direct some films including Charlie’s Angels). “The Way” reached no. 21 in the UK, and this earned them a Top Of The Pops performance, although I think the release was just too late for the video to be featured on The Chart Show that had ended a month or two earlier. Bad luck.
Although “The Way” didn’t make the Top 100 in America, it did do rather well in other specialist charts like Adult Rock. This would be the last that we would hear of Fastball in the UK though, their second album just missed the Top 100, they had no further hits, and even Virgin eventually took them off their playlist. They are still together though after more than 25 years, and they have now released seven albums.