Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I-Rails - Nine Songs From Nowhere (1989)

This past spring, I shared a couple of vintage, albeit rather inspired releases from The I-Rails, a band who's only remote claim to fame was their involvement with future Primitive Radio Gods figurehead Chris O'Conner.  I wouldn't let that scare you off, as the I-Rails were about 180 degrees from the aforementioned one hit wonders.  When posting their 1990 cassette album, Panharmonium, I mentioned there were three cassettes that preceded it which I didn't have in my possession.  That's still very much the case, however as of last week I have the missing three reels at the base of my sleeve, conveniently converted to ones and zeroes.  I'm sharing the Rails third tape, Nine Songs From Nowhere, featuring among other fine selections the staggeringly infectious "Sticks and Stones."  Like me, a lot of you were instantly endeared to Panharmonium and were clamoring for more, so here you are, with the other two albums to hopefully follow in the near future.  For a (slightly) more thorough backgrounder on the I-Rails, point your cursor to the hyperlinks in this article.  A very hearty thanks to the gentlemen who digitized these tracks and sent them in my direction!

01. Not My World
02. The Meaning of Life
03. Punk is Dead
04. One Day Older
05. Sticks and Stones
06. Under the Influence
07. Primitive Radio Gods
08. Slave to a Dream
09. Holy Town



Flávio said...

Great post!!! btw, will you share with us the other 2 tapes?


Mike Ouellette said...

A small clarification: all three members of the I-Rails (Chris O'Connor, Jeff Sparks and Tim Lauterio) played in Primitive Radio Gods, along with guitarist Luke McAuliffe (formerly of the Mudheads). Although Chris did perform and write the bulk of the "Rocket" album alone, the other guys were re-recruited for the tour that supported that album and have been contributing members of PRG ever since (though Jeff left in 2001 to pursue other projects).

Glad that I could help get this music out to the masses. Thanks for sharing!

Josh said...

Oh cool, talk about coincidences ha. It seems the tape and CD versions are at different speeds, same as Panharmonium.

spavid said...

Comments appreciated folks. Didn't realize that some of the other I-Rails contributed to PRG, then again, I never delved into the PRG album that much to begin with. The other tapes are forthcoming...

Mike Ouellette said...

The second PRG album "White Hot Peach" (and its ultimately unreleased major-label counterpart "Mellotron On") are very similar in sound to the I-Rails and are definitely worth giving a listen if you're a fan of that era.

Mike Ouellette said...

@ Josh - there were no CD pressings of the I-Rails albums, just the tapes, which is part of the problem ... Since cassettes are an analog medium it's difficult to nail down playback at "true" speed, given the variations in playback equipment. I modified the speed of digital transfers made by Dave Back by cross-referencing the only official (and therefore presumably at the correct speed) digital versions of I-Rails songs that I know of (those appearing in the film "Hana Surf Girls") as well as Dave's live recordings. So the version posted here should be as close to the intended speed as possible. The version of Panharmonium posted here back in May is actually slowed down by about 1.5%, which translates to about a semitone down. I did my best with the other two tapes but unfortunately there's nothing to compare them against, so I had to play it by ear.

Josh said...

Ah I see, that makes sense. I could have sworn Dave mentioned CD versions at some point but I must have misread something.

Thanks for the info Mike.

J. Son said...

This is amazing. Thanks guys for putting this out there!

Do you happen to know the songwriting credits for Nine Songs (and the Same Old Me single)? I'm assuming Chris O'Connor/Jeff Sparks like Panharmonium...but of course I can't be sure.

Also, just out of curiosity, why, on the Panharmonium download, are the tracks "Where I Am" and "Courage, Etc." melded together?

One more thing! -Any word on the Primative Radio Gods' (misspelled - purposely? - with an "a") demo version of Rocket? (Is the Nine Songs track similarly misspelled, btw?) The album is labeled "black rocket" on their official website discography page (at the bottom). The cover appears to be a blurry picture of Chris sitting at a kitchen table... It's also mentioned in the "Early Years (1991-1994)" section of the Wikipedia article.

Thanks again guys!

spavid said...

Thanks for the input again Mike and Josh. So, it looks like my rip of Panharmonium is slowed down. Since it's an orignal factory copy of the tape, I would assume something is afoot on my end (perhaps my tape deck)? The pitch control on my JVC dual-well deck is precisely on neutral. Think I should make any adjustments?

Thenamelessavenger said...

To whoever did the footwork to track these down i thank you. I've been enjoying these rips for the last week or so.

Like Mike said, White Hot Peach is a great album to check out if you like the I-Rails. It's simply an amazing album by itself.

But, i would say that the PRG B-Sides (Umpteen Spooks, etc) are more I-Railsian still.

Forget Rocket, they abandoned that sound pretty quick.

Mike Ouellette said...

@ J. Son - Yep, the liner notes for Nine Songs has the writing credit going to "O'Connor/Sparks". The two earlier albums don't have any unfortunately.

@ spavid - I wouldn't worry too much about the pitch, it's so close to correct that's it's pretty much unnoticeable unless you break out a keyboard and play along. My method for "correcting" them is hardly foolproof; it's possible that my controls are incorrect too, or that the band intentionally tuned their instruments a half-step down, or there could have been a manufacturing issue with the tape(s).

@Thenamelessavenger - Yep, there are a bunch of even more I-Railsian PRG b-sides floating around, at least some of which I believe may have been recorded for the intended followup to "Rocket", called "Invisible Landscape", which was ultimately scrapped for "Mellotron On" (which was reworked into "White Hot Peach"). I've uploaded seven of these tracks, which are no longer available, to my youtube channel ( if anyone wants to hear them. At least three more songs ("No Vacancy", "Things Move Around", "Beyond the Jar") are still available for purchase on in the Umpteen Spooks collection so I won't be hosting them. "Rope" and "Ten Minutes Underwater" may also be from that era, but did eventually see release as White Hot Peach b-sides.

spavid said...

Just wanted to thank you for the latest round of comments, and an extra special round of applause for Mike for fielding some of the questions/concerns that have been raised. Really appreciate it.

While I'm still immensely intersted in the I-Rails, I have not had an adequate amount of time over recent weeks to keep things as current as I'd like to with the blog in general. Hopefully this will change soon.


Jeff said...

To whoever has been uploading the long lost dark beauty of I-Rails music to the internet, THANK YOU.

I am a hardcore PRG fan since 1996 and finally being able to download 9SFN and Panharmonium in their entirety, along with three of four of the Unfocused tracks uploaded to Youtube, has made for one hell of a 15th anniversary of my fandom.

I too received the 7" Same Old Me/Everyone's In Love single from Luke a few years ago, along with the Still Electric DVD I asked him for. But I've never had the gumption to actually rip those two songs to digital files for my Ipod, which thanks to you, I can simply dowload now along with the rest of the new songs.

I compiled the "Umpteen Spooks" tracks from eMusic onto one CD back when they were free on the eMusic website; there are 20 tracks in all, I believe. I have them here with me on my iPod if anyone wants a tracklisting, but I don't have the physical CD with me at the moment. It's back at my house in the U.S., which I won't be visiting again until Christmas.

If anyone needs the Umpteen Spooks album uploaded, make some noise here and I'll do so once I'm home in December.

Thanks again for the bounty of I-Rails music!!

Quinn said...

Just stumbled upon this and other 3 posts, just great stuff, thanks to everyone who helped to get these gems online. As a long time PRG, this is amazing

Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anton said...

could you please re-up this album? it's impossible to find. thank you!

spavid said...

The link has been updated.

Deckard said...

Just discovered "Panharmonium" thanks to this site. The song "Behold" has a very strong Bob Mould/Sugar vibe to it. Excellent album all around!!

Unknown said...

Listening to the I-Rails is like watching an 80s John Hugues movie. These songs fit perfectly.

"Trust" could have been on an open scene showing Chicago's skyline, for instance.

"The Worst Song About Jane" in a romantic scene.

I can go on and on. They have been on my playlist since discovering them in early 2013.

I'm a huge fan of Toad the Wet Sprocket and I'm glad they both sound great at their own.

Unknown said...

So here I am in my 50s rocking out to these amazing and timeless songs that give me as much bliss as they did in back in the day. I would love to find the lyrics to all mine songs, any suggestions? ✌️

Unknown said...

Links have expired. Great band. Found them through recently through "Phone Booth..." (of course) on YouTube, then became addicted to most of the White Hot Peach tracks.

Dave Back said...

To the commenter from April 1, 2020,

I'm the original digitizer before there were many good programs to do it well and before I started my audio engineering rabbit hole with audio recording. In 2020, I would have done different things and techniques to maximize the cassette tapes that I had as a 16 year old living in Ventura during these times.

I've always thought I would try again on digitizing The I-Rails again and giving it a better process. I know so much more about audio than I did back in 2005. The speed of the songs are a little fast due to the cassette player and old PC that I used for this. Again, I would do things differently now and it would be correct. For the ones that were confused on the re-mix on the last song for Panharmonium, this was my fun little track that I did for myself because I found the "reverse" function on the free audacity program that I had in 2005. I included it on the CD's that I gave to my friends and it must have stayed around as it got passed around. Again, it was just my fun little track.

The CD's were digitized and given to all of my friends that were part of the scene in Ventura. Bands like The I-Rails, The Mudheads, Toad The Wet Sprocket, and others were part of a vibrant Ventura/Santa Barbara scene in the late 80's. I have all of those bands digitized which again back in 2005, was a big deal since no one had cassette players anymore. I don't even have a good cassette player that I would trust with these tapes that I still have in my collection.

If anyone is interested in any of the songs from The I-Rails, let me know and I'll gladly get a dropbox address out to you and if you are interested in the other Ventura bands, let me know. For more I-Rails related video, I've uploaded in its entirety, the I-Rails show at Ventura College that I videotaped back when I was 17. Also, there is a video of the I-Rails and Toad The Wet Sprocket from 1988 at Oscars that I uploaded on youtube as well. Full show. I received a VHS copy of the I-Rails performing for a LA cable channel. All of this can be found under dbackagain on youtube or contact me at

I will do my best to keep the sound alive.


Dave Back said...

I got an email from Jeff Sparks as he sent me the files for their last 2 I-Rails album that was recently digitized from the source. So the versions are as best as they can get especially from the cassette files that I did 20 years ago.

If you want the dropbox link, just let me know and I'll send them over to you. The songs are in such good quality, it's almost like you were in the studio with them listening to them before they made cassettes of their songs.