Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fourth Night of Chanukah - The Figgs: 20th Century Masters - The Singles

Well look who came to bestow some happy Chanukah tidings?  The Figgs were kind enough to bequeath us with a steady flow of singles and such during their tenure in the Clinton-era, and I was kind enough to hem together as many of the disparate and sometime random non-LP Figgs jams that I was fortunate to collect over the years.  In fact, this entry has been in the pipeline for awhile now.  I had been procrastinating out of sheer fear that assembling this collection would be a bear of an undertaking, but I finally nailed it, save for a couple of tracks from tribute albums, and the elusive "I Am Clean" from a Blue Lunch Records comp cassette that I'm sadly missing.

As the long held notion goes, Beatles b-sides were usually superior to most other band's A-grade material.  So far as I'm concerned, The Figgs were another "fab four" (later pared down to three, but I digress) whose non-LP catalog could go head to head with their strongest album tracks.  Case in point, a spate of four exquisite singles that came down the pike between 1993-95, beginning with "Miss Velvet" and ending with my favorite Christmas record ever, the Christmas Shake ep which I originally posted here in 2007.  Still performing and recording, the Figgs sassy and charm-schooled power pop formula is microbrewed by two key singer-songwriters Pete Donnelly and Mike Gent, with drummer Pete Hayes contributing text on a less frequent basis, in proportion to say, Ringo Starr.  The net result isn't Beatle-esque, so much as Material Issue getting juiced up on Elvis Costllo's genius, late '70s tear.  Edgy, indigenous and endearing The Figgs halcyon era in the mid-90s was a sight/sound to behold, and proper full lengths, Banda Macho and Lo-Fi at Society High, were merely half the story.

Since I don't have the time to provide you with a track-by-track spiel, let me cherry pick a few highlights.  The Figgs first single, "Happy" was backed with a cover of the Green Pajamas winsome "My Mad Kitty."  Other single sides from the same era "Let's Get Arrested" and "One Hit Wonder" were big audience favorites, and rightfully so.  You can read more about the Christmas record in the link I supplied below.
"What Became of It" was initially released as the b-side to the Banda Macho era "Girl, Kill Your Boyfriend" single, not on 7" wax, but would you believe a 5" compact disk sized record.  If you ever gone to the trouble of playing a 5" piece of vinyl on a record player you know how dicey it is to get the needle to drop without the arm automatically retracting to it's resting position, but anyway.  There's more covers too.  The Figgs's spin on "Father Christmas" is even more breathless and strident than the Kinks, while Chuck Berry's "Don't You Lie to Me" is virtually reconfigured into a lounge number.  Yet another Kink's tune, "Johnny Thunder" is capably executed, as is an Undertones oldie.  There are some really obscure compilation tracks here too.  Immediately after the tracklist is a source listing for everything,  MP3 bitrates may vary slightly from song to song.

BTW these aren't the first Figgs rarities I've shared.  I've refreshed the links for their 1992 Ginger cassette album, and the vinyl only outtakes collection RejectsThen there's my original entries for Christmas Shake, the split singles with Prisonshake and Coffin Break plus the Undertones tribute and Half-Assed compilations.  A lot to love.  Enjoy.  Thanks to A Minor Obsession for the painstaking discogrpahy details.

01. Happy
02. My Mad Kitty
03. Miss Velvet
04. Powder King
05. Go Before
06. Let's Get Arrested
07. J Card
08. One Hit Wonder
09. Father Christmas
10. Christmas Sake
11. Merry Christmas, Girl
12. What Became of It
13. Let Me Have It
14. Up the Charts
15. Citizens Band
16. Appointments
17. This Phaser Sounds Divine
18. Wiser Goldfish
19. Don't You Lie to Me
20. Got Back Your Baby (live)
21. 1000 People Grinning
22. Who Hung That Sign
23. Johnny Thunder
24. Boys Will Be Boys

1 & 2 - Happy 7" (1992, Absolute A-Go-Go)
3 & 4 - Miss Velvet 7" (1993, Matt Label)
5 & 6 - Go Before 7" (1994, March)
7 & 8 - J Card 7" (1995, Square Target)
9-11. Christmas Shake 7" ep (1995, Chunk)
12. b-side to "Girl, Kill Your Boyfriend" 5" (1996, Capitol)
13. split 7" w/ Coffin Break (1992, Negative Feedback)
14. split 7" w/ Bloom (1994, Paint Chip)
15. split 7" w/ Incredible Casuals (1995, Kranepool)
16-19. split 7" with Prisonshake (1998, Flipped Out/Philthy Rex)
20. V/A - Live at the QE2 (1990, Sweetfish)
21. V/A - Half Assed 7" ep (1994, Kranepool)
22. V/A - Sponic magazine 7" comp (1998, Sponic)
23. V/A - Daydreaming in an Empty Station Wagon CD (1999, Dizzy
24. V/A - Here Comes the Summer - Undertones tribute (1995, Square Target)


Bryan said...

I made the mistake of seeing this while in a room full of people, now they think I am potty mouth who wants everyone to ask what he's looking at on the computer.

Bruce Kelly said...

Bryan, any hints on what your potty mouthed outburst was? Holy crap is the cleanest, if somewhat blasphemous, one I can think of. What a great site this is.

stewrat said...

just when I thought I had everything! Off to see The Figgs next Saturday night - can't wait! Thanks for all the excellent posts!

Adam said...
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Adam said...

Awesome! Love The Figgs. For those of you who are overly particular about your artwork in iTunes I made this cover art using the sleeves for if you want it.

ispacehead said...

Hell yeah! I never got any of these, but have always loved the Figgs.


spavid said...

Cool. Thanks Adam! Glad you're enjoying this.

tony party said...

The best! Me and a pal flew to Albany from Michigan for their Lo-Fi anniversary shows. It was worth every second. Great post!

Steve S said...

Thanks for the shout out to my "a minor obsession" site. I've been a long time fan of this blog so I'm glad to contribute somehow. You should email me through the contacts page at the site and I'll get you some more Figgs goodies!

Tim said...
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Tim said...

Thanks so much for posting this! Here are a couple more for folks who need them. This one's from a Graham Parker tribute comp:

And here's one from a Young Fresh Fellows tribute comp:

Merry Figgsmas everybody :)

spavid said...

Thanks for the links Tim!

jonder said...

Wow, what a wonderful labor of love! I think I had everything but the QE2 track, but I've never been able to find that LP and I'm very excited to finally hear the Figgs track. I once asked Mike Gent if the band was going to put together a compilation of their singles. He said that they wanted to, but the problem was that the records were issued on so many different labels.

Can't believe I never came across A Minor Obsession before. You've got a great site there, Steve! I am going to email you too, if you don't mind.

Happy Holidays to all my fellow Figgs fanatics! Thank you so much, spavid. I think the band must like what you've done, since they put a link to this post on their Facebook page.