The late 80s were a formative time for me musically, especially when my house got a VCR and MTV. I set to taping my favorite music videos every chance I got, much like devoted music fans taped their favorite songs off of FM radio. 1988 is heavily represented on a VHS tape I still have somewhere in my house, even though I no longer have a device to play it back. Through coincidental synergy, that year two popular songs called “Don’t Be Cruel” flew high in the charts, Cheap Trick’s cover of the original Elvis Presley song and Bobby Brown’s new jack swing anthem. So I’ll be honest with you, when I found Dead Professional‘s spare and beautiful song with the same name, I could not get these two other versions out of my head. This is totally unfair because John Harouff’s song is original, not a cover of either of my ancient earworms. “Don’t Be Cruel” is the latest single from Dead Professional’s 2014 debut EP Hard Hard Hard, recorded by John alone, but he’s recently added bass and drums to his live sets, including this version performed out in a field for The Garage Video Sessions. Dead Professional brings their simple and direct rock to the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival on April 25th, so wouldn’t it be a grand idea to pre-order tickets today?