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Apollo 18

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Apollo 18 album cover
Apollo 18
Studio album by They Might Be Giants
First released March 20, 1992
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 18 Last album Flood
Label Elektra <61257> Length 43:00 Next album John Henry


Apollo 18 is They Might Be Giants' fourth studio album, released in 1992. It was the band's second release with the major label Elektra Records.

Purchase[edit]

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CD 25¢ Purchase
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Vinyl back
An Elektra poster promoting the album
UK magazine ad promoting the album

Description[edit]

Background[edit]

For the band's follow-up to the successful Flood, Elektra approached Elvis Costello to act as producer. John and John feared self-consciousness in the face of such an admired musician, and had assumed that Flood's accomplished fruition would serve as an indication that the band was mature enough to produce the album itself, as they had originally planned. This disagreement caused a rift between Elektra and the Johns, which took a while to heal. Flansburgh, Linnell, and Susan Drew of Elektra discuss this subject at length in bonus footage included on the Gigantic DVD.

Apollo 18 illustrates TMBG's first significant attempts at fleshing out the simpler sound employed on earlier albums. The album's accompanying tour, named the Don't Tread On The Cut-Up Snake World Tour, was the band's first to use a live backing band.

Artwork[edit]

Art surrounding Apollo 18 tended to have a space theme; it was designed by John Flansburgh under the pseudonym "Rolf Conant". While searching the NASA archives for a cover graphic, John and John were approached by the NASA staff and selected as Musical Ambassadors for International Space Year. The logo for International Space Year is included on the back cover of the album. The album's cover depicts a giant squid locked in combat with a sperm whale in space.

The atomic-looking Elektra logo, which appears throughout the album's liner notes and the vinyl labels was illustrated by Barbara Lipp on ink and paper. It was conceptualized by John Flansburgh.

Sales and singles[edit]

A chart showing the historical performance of Apollo 18 on the Billboard 200

Apollo 18 debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart the week of April 11, 1992; it spent 6 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 99. The album generated three singles: The Statue Got Me High, I Palindrome I, and The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight). "The Statue Got Me High" spent 8 weeks on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart, peaking at number 24. The other singles from the album failed to chart. Music videos were produced for "The Statue Got Me High" and "The Guitar", the former having a space theme consistent with the art surrounding the album, and the latter being the first TMBG music video directed by John Flansburgh.

Fingertips[edit]

Apollo 18 is an unusual album, mainly due to the "Fingertips" tracks: 21 short songs which average about 13 seconds in length. The liner notes state "The indexing of this disc is designed to complement the Shuffle Mode of modern CD players." This implies that the CD was designed for listening on shuffle—as you listen, the "Fingertips" tracks intersperse themselves among the songs of average length, creating a pleasant "musical collage". In most regions, "Fingertips" was properly divided into separate tracks for the CD; however, due to a mastering error at WEA, European and Japanese versions include the entire selection of "Fingertips" as one continuous track, a flaw which continues to occur in discs produced to this day.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Dig My Grave 1:08 
2 I Palindrome I 2:22 
3 She's Actual Size 2:05 
4 My Evil Twin 2:37 
5 Mammal 2:14 
6 The Statue Got Me High 3:06 
7 Spider 0:50  N/A
8 The Guitar 3:49 
9 Dinner Bell 2:11 
10 Narrow Your Eyes 2:46 
11 Hall Of Heads 2:53 
12 Which Describes How You're Feeling 1:13 
13 See The Constellation 3:27 
14 If I Wasn't Shy 1:43 
15 Turn Around 2:53 
16 Hypnotist Of Ladies 1:42 
17 Everything Is Catching On Fire 0:12

 

18 Fingertips (Banjo) 0:06

 

19 I Hear The Wind Blow 0:10

 

20 Hey Now Everybody 0:05

 

21 Who's That Standing Out The Window? 0:06

 

22 I Found A New Friend Underneath My Pillow 0:07

 

23 Come On And Wreck My Car 0:12

 

24 Aren't You The Guy Who Hit Me In The Eye? 0:06

 

25 Please Pass The Milk 0:08

 

26 Leave Me Alone 0:05

 

27 Who's Knocking On The Wall? 0:04

 

28 All Alone, All By Myself 0:05

 

29 What's That Blue Thing Doing Here? 0:08

 

30 Something Grabbed Ahold Of My Hand 0:12

 

31 I Don't Understand You 0:27

 

32 I Heard A Sound 0:04

 

33 Mysterious Whisper 0:28

 

34 The Day That Love Came To Play 0:08

 

35 I'm Having A Heart Attack 0:23

 

36 Fingertips (Whispered) 0:10

 

37 I Walk Along Darkened Corridors 1:01

 

38 Space Suit 1:36 

Trivia[edit]

  • Apollo 18 was released on vinyl in Europe, though not domestically, which made it the last TMBG album released on vinyl until The Else in 2007.
  • The liner notes indicate design by Rolf Conant, a pseudonym of John Flansburgh.
  • The Dial-A-Song number in the booklet is incorrect, stating the number as 718-963-6962. TMBG pointed this out to the audience at shows around this time. (The incorrect number was apparently for a warehouse.)

Information bulletins[edit]

The TMBG Online Information Bulletin run by Bo Orloff sent out five updates on the subject of this album:

Image gallery[edit]

Vinyl[edit]

CD[edit]

Promotional material[edit]