Friday, October 16, 2009

Gladhands - All is Well (That Ends Well) - Brilliant Charade and more (1993-99)

To know '90s power pop is to know Big Deal Records, a New York label that was the preeminent propagator of such burgeoning acts as The Wondermints, Baby Lemonade, Barely Pink, as well as the Jordon Oakes-curated Yellow Pills compilations. Big Deal was also home to a North Carolina by way of Omaha threesome (and occasionally a quartet as depicted to the right) dubbed The Gladhands, who struck me as the miracle lovechild of the Posies and Greenberry Woods. Their first two official albums for the taste-making imprint were 1995's From Here to Obscurity and La Di Da a year thereafter. A third Gladhands album, Wow and Flutter (featured on these pages last year) was slated for release by Big Deal in 1999. Although advance promo copies of Wow... made their way to the press, the release fell through entirely when the label was abruptly sold early that year, though it did see the light of day in CD racks in Japan.

While these three LPs charted the natural maturity and musical adeptness of the band, they had a precursor that few outside the Gladhands' most die-hard following were acquainted with, a 1993, ten song cassette demo called Brilliant Charade. Charade was to the Gladhands what Failure was to the Posies - a budget-conscious recording designed to woo nightclubs and potential record labels, that just so happened to be substantive enough to warrant a formal, wide-scale release. And luckily enough, Brilliant Charade was released to the world at large on CD in 2001, but only available as a Japanese import via the consistently impressive Air Mail Recordings label. As the bio on the bio on their Myspace page professes, the Gladhands may not have hit their stride until they went digital on the aforementioned Big Deal releases, but the group's lyrical acumen and jaunty jangle rock showcased on Charade was still miles ahead of most of their contemporaries.
My copy of Charade was passed along to me in a cd-r trade years ago (didn't have the coin to spring for the pricey import). I believe the rip on the cd was from an original tape, not the reissue. Also appended were twelve additional Gladhand's rarities, including 7" sides, Japanese LP bonus tracks, as well as compilation and tribute appearances. For full source details, checkout the scan of the tray card in the folder. Almost 80 minutes of great listening here folks!

Brilliant Charade
01. Learning to Hide
02. Your Own Worst Enemy
03. Brilliant Charade
04. Man of Letters
05. All is Well
06. Must Mean Love
07. Worthless One
08. Hangin' on Every Word
09. The Doledrums
10. Two Weeks 
bonus goods:
11. She's a Disaster
12. Do You Have a Reservation?
13. Sisters
14. Play On (Raspberries)
15. Promise Her Anything
16. Andy Please
17. Be Without
18. Magic 8 Ball
19. Magic (Pilot cover!)
20. Southern Girls (yep, the Cheap trick classic)
21. All is Well
22. Getting Closer

8 comments:

Kouzie said...

That's awesome. I'm the one that originally created this compilation. A few things...

* Yes, the Brilliant Charade tracks were taken from the original cassette release and not the CD.
* "Getting Closer" is a Paul McCartney cover
* This compilation collects every non-album track they released.
* Doug Edmunds has a new band called Stars Explode and recently released an excellent new album. Check them out!
* The band reunited for the first time in ten years at the Charlotte Pop Fest. They sounded amazing. Doug, Jeff, and Pat were the nicest guys you could ever want to meet. I brought all my nerdy Gladhands stuff for them to sign (including the original cassette and my copy of the compilation posted here). They seem genuinely (pleasantly) surprised that I had all of this stuff. Even more surprisingly was that Doug remembered me from their mailing list years ago (I had bought a few things directly from them).
* Best of all, they said there's a chance they'll start playing live again.
* Enjoy the comp!!!

spavid said...

Thanks! Surprised you found my post so quickly. You did an impecable job. Like I said, I had a had hunch your CD was sourced from the actual Brilliant Charade tape. By any chance, do you have the artwork for it? Meant to mention the Charlotte Pop Fest gig, but forgot. Maybe they'll hold it again next year and I'll actually be able to afford to go.

Kouzie said...

Actually, I check out your fine, fine site every day as part of my morning routine. So hopefully this is just one way of saying thanks for all you've done.

I do have the cassette artwork, but the band just signed it for me, so it's not totally clear. I can scan it this week. Where should I email/post it to?

Doug and Pat still live a few minutes from each other in NC. Jeff is back in Omaha which is making playing future dates more difficult. But they're trying to figure something out. They really did sound pretty great...

spavid said...

If you'd like to send me a scan of the sleeve (no rush) just send it to the email adress in my profile. Thanks.

Mark said...

Many thanks. Have their other CDs, but 'Charade' was always too expensive...

cpop said...

Thank you very much from a Gladhands fan from France. And i want to also thank Kouzie for his wonderful compilation.

Eric

Doug E. said...

Happy to send you a copy of Brilliant Charade on CD, the Japanese version. I recently acquired several copies of backstock. This is Doug Edmunds, from the band. ;-) Thanks for the nice remembrance!

spavid said...

The link has been updated.