Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Bongos - demos (1985-ish)

I received this curious collection of unreleased Bongos recordings on a BitTorrent platform last year, and even though the archiver who posted them claim they originate from 1981 (right around the time the band was tracking all those scrumptious singles and so forth that would later comprise the Drums Along the Hudson album), I think otherwise.  In fact the first ten cuts here even include a song that would wind up as the title track to their 1983 Numbers With Wings ep.  Furthermore, this trio of Hoboken, NJ pop-meisters were working on an album in the mid-80s that would ultimately be abandoned, the working title of which was Phantom Train.  Curiously enough there's a song amidst these demos with the same title, leading me to believe that at least some of these tracks comprise said abandoned album. 

Perhaps the only thing certain about these songs is that they come from multiple recording sessions, with the noticeable fluctuations in audio quality being a dead giveaway.  Most of these demos are considerably more polished, and I hasten to add commercially ambitious, than the quirkier panache of all those early indie sides like "In the Congo," "Hunting," and "The Bulrushes."  The original curator of this collection did indicate that the last two selections "Once in a Blue Moon" and "My Wildest Dream" actually originate from a WNEW FM broadcast, but could pass for demos from these same sessions.  Hmmm.  Wonder if anyone out there can I shed a light on these rather catchy nuggets.  In the meantime, for those of you who aren't terribly familiar with the Richard Barone-helmed Bongos, you would do well to boogie on over to Wiki and a post over at Lost Bands... blog, and while you're at it, grab the reissue of the damn near-seminal Drums Along the Hudson as well.  

01. Run to the Wild
02. One Bold Stroke
03. Tangled in Your Web
04. Town of One
05. River to River
06. Phantom Train
07. Sunshine Superman
08. Number With Wings
09. Barbarella
10. Not So Sure
11. Once in a Blue Moon*
12. My Wildest Dream*

* from WNEW radio broadcast


Richard said...

Hello there. Looks like most of those tracks date from 1985. You're right to assume many are from the 'Phantom Train' (unreleased) project. Incidentally, I think I had an early draft of "Numbers With Wings" by 1981, written in London while mixing the first album. The track you list as "Not So Sure" is most certainly "Totem Pole" from the 'Beat Hotel' album, released earlier in 1985. A busy year, as we also performed about 300 shows and recorded enough material for two albums! Thanks for your kind words!
All my best,
Richard Barone

Monkey Flinging Poo said...

This looks fascinating... thanks! I remember spinning the Numbers With Wings EP on the university station when that was first out. Wonderful music. I embarrassingly admit I didn't hear the first Bongos album until a few years ago. I was shocked how I'd missed such a great slab of material. Still sounds very good after all these years (thanks Richard!).

Ben said...

Sweet! Great post.

spavid said...

It's a real pleasure to here from you Richard (and Monkey and Ben too). I suppose you would be the definitive authority to call on regarding the year these songs were committed to tape. Sounds like my suspicion was correct. 300gigs in a year is utterly staggering! At any rate, glad you don't object, and thanks so much for commenting.


Monkey Flinging Poo said...

Just listened. I love "Run To The Wild" and "My Wildest Dream". A bit sad knowing this won't be higher quality anywhere (right?). Great stuff.

Lars Ekelöw said...

Phantom train, Richard released it, its a great album