Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Instructions - s/t (1982, Radio/WEA)

Once upon a time, possibly the late '80s I threw a buck at the cassette version of this album in a cut out bin.  At the time I deemed it a wee bit left-field for my tastes and chalked it up as a loss.  More recently I came across another cut out incarnation of Instructions, this time on vinyl, and whadda ya know, it actually clicked with me a full quarter of a century later.  If you're looking for point by point factoids on Instructions apparently lone release, What is Frank Listening To has all the particulars mapped out, even going so far as to offer song-by-song critiques.  Problem is you can't hear much of the music.  That's where we come in.

Yes, this is synth pop.  Nothing too heavy handed mind you.  The aforementioned link suggests similarities to Gary Numan and DEVO (among others) but there's little here that's as robotically rigid as the former, or as sardonic as the flower pot donning mofo's from Akron.  Instructions wielded a decent array of hooks when it suited them - subtly on the smooth "Ha Ha Ha," and more vividly on the beefier "Wicked Heart" and "The Extra."  The What is Frank... review mentions that members of Instructions formerly dedicated themselves to decidedly safer, more mainstream endeavors before plunging into the de regour "wave" onslaught of the '80s, though personally I wouldn't submit that as a foregone conclusion.

I should mention that a quote on the back cover arouses a bit of an enigma:  "the fleshtones would like to express their gratitude to the many machines which made this project possible."  A scan of the Instructions personnel reveals there is no crossover whatsoever with the band The Fleshtones so I'm thoroughly stumped as to what that blurb actually pertains to.  Lead Instructor Owen Smith is apparently not using an assumed name, as there is linkage between him and Instructions on multiple online sources.  Furthermore these folks hailed from Canada, whereas the Fleshtones were products of New York.  Anyway, if you can get past this unresolved triviality, you've got a decent little artifact on your hands.

01. Wicked Heart
02. So You Learn From Computers
03. Don't Say Love
04. Suburban Dream
05. Ha Ha Ha
06. The Factory
07. The Extra
08. Naked Deer
09. Cleek
10. Ok



Jonathan Nieve said...

Hi Willfully,

Is it possible for your highness to re-upload a couple of things that you put up years ago? I would love to have a copy of "At The Hands of our Intercessors" by Buzz Hungry (first posted 8/25/2011) and "No Feet On The Cowling" by Mercyland(first posted 10/5/2007. Thanks Will! - Johnny Nieve

spavid said...

Will try to get to these soon. Thanks for the request.

Joseph C. said...


Can u re-upload the Indian Bingo's "Scatological" and "Overwrought" albums.

Thanks. Joseph C.

Unknown said...

Hello Willfully Obscure, thank you for recent review of the Instructions album. I am Owen Smith the lead singer and one of the songwriters of the project. Many people have told me they felt the band was ahead of its time, but it is all irrelevant at this point. Although I have considered rereleasing "Don't Say Love" in the modern world, and "So You Learn From Computers", which Frank slams was written before the www even existed, both songs were sincere on my part and the result of a broken love affair. But whatever that is what is nice about art and music, to each his/her own. The use of the term "fleshtones" has nothing to do with the NY band; which I did not even know of at the timeI wrote this album, was actually a play on words to describe us the humans working using and interacting with the many devices and machines which made the album possible at that time. The album won a JUNO(Canaian music award) Mike Jones for engineering in 1982. If you are interested in more music and interesting facts about the band its incarnations and what I have been up to all these years check out my web site Thank you for taking the time to listen and regards. Owen Smith

spavid said...

Hey Owen. Great to hear from you! Glad you don't object to me sharing the record. Yeah, you're explanation of "fleshtones" was something I considered as well, but again, thought it was too much of a coincidence. I read about the record winning the JUNO. A very belated kudos to you. BTW, did Instructions ever play gigs in the US? I think the only other Manitoba band I've featured on my site is the Ruggedy Annes. Anyway, thanks for stopping bye. Will check out your site.

Unknown said...

Yo spavid, the Instructions were a full time touring band for over 6 years from 1981 to 87, we played coast to coast in Canada but never made it to the good ol US of A. I probably should have taken the band to Europe but my label was lame and I never had the resources to do that. After the Instructions I formed a band called Paris Mob which did not last long then I formed the Immortals and wrote some great songs with Brad Alison and Rob Filep from Winnipeg. I have a CD called "nostalgia" which has many of the Immortal songs and Paris Mob songs as well on it, it is a double CD with 34 songs on it, if you would like a free copy just give me a mailing address and i will forward it to you. We still get Instructions air play world wide, though my air play royalty cheques get smaller and smaller, most of the air play I get around the planet is on free internet radio. Winnig the JUNO which has both my name and Martin Wall as song writers on it, means we are listed as JUNO winners in the Canadian Rock and Roll history books and museum, not to shabby for a avante garde art band out of the Canadian wilderness. thanks again for taking the time to reply and listening to ourmusic. Regards, Owen Smith ... check out

Americanjarhead said...

Enjoying my vinyl copy right now. Got in back in 82 or 83. It is recorded wonderfully and when played on a good system loudly, it comes to life. I loved it when I was in my 20s and played it a little in my 30s and then again today. Cheers.

Unknown said...

How kind is that? A lot of people have told me they think the Instructions album, concept, sound and lyrics stand the test of time. Thank you very much for your comment, you made my day! owen smith