Friday, December 29, 2017

The Ocean Blue - first album & Cerulean live @ Lincoln Hall, Chicago 3/19/16

This was a serious contender for one of my Chanukah shares a couple weeks back.  I didn't want to wait until next December to post this, so here it is, an extra ninth night so to speak.  It was just last year in fact that I delved into The Ocean Blue, by way of a clutch of demos and comp tracks recorded prior to their 1989 self-tiled album.  There's not much more I can extol regarding this long-running Hershey, PA combo that I didn't address previously.  Chiming guitar pop may not have been their name, per se, but it certainly was their game, and they won people over like myself with a thoughtful predilection that persuaded both collegiate rock audiences and comparatively straight and narrow types. 

The concept for the Ocean Blue's concert at Lincoln Hall in Chicago last spring was pretty straightforward - performances of their first two albums (1989's Ocean Blue and 1991's Cerulean in their entirety.  This is an above average audience recording with a meager amount of crowd noise.  The reproductions here compared to the studio incarnations aren't dramatically different, but when it comes to their ilk, it wouldn't make much sense to improvise or go on a tangent.  All the classics are present and accounted for - "Between Something and Nothing," "Drifting Falling," "Ballerina Out of Control," and the strummy "Vanity Fair."  We even get a Pet Shop Boys cover to close things out.  Full tracklists are as follows, and these sets are available in both in MP3 and lossless FLAC.

Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL, March 19, 2016

Set 1 - 0:50:22 - Cerulean  MP3  or  FLAC
01. The Ocean (by U2 - Intro Music)
02. Breezing Up
03. Cerulean
04. Marigold
05. A Seperate Reality
06. Mercury
07. Questions of Travel
08. When Life Was Easy
09. The Planetarium Scene
10. Falling Through The Ice
11. Ballerina Out of Control
12. Hurricane Amore
13. I've Sung One Too Many Songs For a Crowd That Didn't Want To Hear

Set 2 -1:08:07 - The Ocean Blue  MP3  or  FLAC
01. Intro
02. Between Something and Nothing
03. Vanity Fair
04. Drifting, Falling
05. Circus Animals
06. Frigid Winter Days
07. Just Let Me Know
08. Love Song
09. Ask Me Jon
10. Awaking To a Dream
11. Office of a Busy Man
12. Myron
13. Familiar Face - A
14. offstage
15. Big Ideas
16. It's a Lovely Game Louise
17. West End Girl (Pet Shop Boys Cover)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cypress, Mine! - Exit Trashtown, In Pieces (1987/2017, Pretty Olivia) - a brief review

For every successful upstart in the British isles (circa mid-80s) that extricated themselves from the frenetic, indie-pop cocoon to mainstream acceptance (e.g. The Smiths, Housemartins, Primal Scream) there were scores of others who barely breached the confines of the teaming lower rungs, as it were.  Now the subject of anthologies, reissues and even box sets, the sub-rosa Brit pop scene is coming to light, and it's a great time for those of us who were absent for that small-scale Thatcher-era eruption to catch up - even if it's been a solid three decades after the fact.

Problem was, for Cypress, Mine!, they weren't really part and parcel of the "scene," if only by the arbitrary circumstances of location.  Being somewhat cut off in their native Cork, Ireland, I have a hunch this pre-web quartet weren't exactly hounded by the likes of NME and Melody Maker.  Nonetheless, that didn't prevent C/M from absorbing a healthy dollop of their equally inspired contemporaries - Orange Juice, Bodines, June Brides, and perhaps even a small contingent of the Flying Nun Records roster as well.  Exit Trashtown, a recently issued double LP compendium of Cypress' lone 1987 album of the same name, along with singles and unreleased goodies, makes the case that these gents deserved a far more successful fate.

For established customers of any of my aforementioned references, Cypress, Mine may not exactly wave the banner of innovation.  In an era when oodles of like-minded hopefuls were playing the field, they very well might have been squeezed out by other jangly colleagues who were desperately competing for a piece of John Peel's coveted attention and airtime.  Despite the flooded marketplace C/M were in fact something of a revelation if only in terms of sprite and lovingly wry songs.  The smart yet pensive romantic observations raised on "Justine" and the brisk "Phone Call From Heaven" are tethered to a sonic penchant that would have fit like a glove on the now legendary C86 compilation.  Even more exciting than the Trashtown album material proper, the (mostly) previously unreleased In Pieces quotient of this reissue reveals that C/M were headed in an even bolder direction on the guitar-sy "Crawl," the driving "These Days," and the spry, left-of-the-dial bent of "Sounds Like Rain."

There's a trove of magnificent, and tragically almost lost music to feast on here, but don't take my word for it, preview Exit Trashtown on Bandcamp where you can purchase a digital version, or spring for the 2xLP import version, which is your best option for epitomizing the very sweet album sleeve.  You can also buy a physical copy from Pretty Olivia Records Big Cartel page.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry not-so-Mystery Monday Xmas edition.

Given the holiday, I didn't want to do a straight-up Mystery I decided to take the mystery out of it, with the caveat being that these ten files won't be around forever.  Perhaps more than 48 hours, or even a week, but when they're gone, they're gone.  And most of them haven't appeared on Wilfully before.  Click on the title to be taken straight to the download link.  Special thanks to those of you who may have ripped a couple of these.

Dreams So Real - Fathers House
Turning Curious - Soul Light Season
The Soft Boys - Wading Through a Ventilator ep
The Bats (U.S.) - How Pop Can You Get?
The Gun Club - Fire of Love
XTC - Beeswax
Pavement - live 1994
Pointed Sticks - Part of the Noise
Snake Corps - Flesh on Flesh

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Finders - Demos (1980)

They never were the pinnacle of the power pop heap, nor were they praised by the hipster cognoscenti of their era, but San Fran's Finders had the chops and songs to warrant a seat at the big boys table.  Of course, a discography limited to a couple of locally released singles in the pre-internet era didn't exactly behoove this foursome in regards to publicity and such.  Nonetheless, the last ten years have witnessed some bona fide canonizing of the Finders oeuvre, with a pair of retrospectives, including the Finders Keepers collection.  With a sound vaguely recalling early Plimsouls, and perhaps a gutsier Raspberries, they were off to a decent, if not particularly innovative start.  And you can experience that "start" for yourselves with this (presumably) band sanctioned set of four-track demos tracked in 1980.  Lo-fidelity is the watchword here, featuring an albums worth of raw, analog-soaked tunes including their signature piece "Calling Dr. Howard," as well as assertive keepers like "Don't Let It" and "Standin' in the Rain."

01. Don't Let It
02. Hold Tight
03. It All Worked Out
04. Summer Love
05. Let's Go Home Tonight
06. Think I'll Ask Her
07. You're So Rogue
08. Ain't No Use in Tryin'
09. Calling Dr. Howard
10. On and Off
11. I've Had It
12. Keep Your Hands Off Of My Baby
13. Which Way
14. Bad Food
15. Standin' in the Rain
16. It's So Insane
17. The Way It Goes


Monday, December 18, 2017

Some singles: B-Lovers, Red Buckets, Cosmopolitans, Soup, Motion City Soundtrack.

For the past two years I've offered a bundle of seven singles for one of the eight nights of Chanukah.  I'm truncating that a bit this year.  In fact, I've put together a rather idiosyncratic hodge podge of stuff, of which you might only be interested with two or three things.  Some titles I've inserted are more for historical use than anything else, but read on. I've been deficient on sharing singles in 2017, so maybe I'll try to put more emphasis on them next year.  For now, here's what I've set the table with.  The download link at the end is for a bundle folder of all five records.  Please note, for the Soup ep I only have MP3s available.

Motion City Soundtrack - Promenade/Carolina 7" (1999)

This is the most apparent anomaly of the bunch.  I have written about MCS on several occasions, but this is likely to be the last given they dissolved in 2016.  Not quite punk...or emo...or indie rock, Justin Pierre and Co. were nonetheless the most gratifying thing to come out of the Twin Cities since the Mats and Husker Du.  And, yes, that's saying an awful lot.  This record preceded their first album I Am The Movie by a good three years, and even if it's not thoroughly representative (e.g., no keyboards were employed for this incarnation of MCS) structurally things began to take shape here  The A-side, "Promenade" concerns a boy who struggles to muster up the courage to ask a classmate to go with him to, you guessed it, the high school prom.  A dilemma that has plagued men from time immemorial...

Soup - Cruel and Unusual ep (1989, rec. 1986-87, Very Small)

I had posted this title to a want list I shared many years back.  Still haven't found an affordable physical copy, but I do have quality audio files to offer.  Soup were Berkeley, CA basement punks
who eschewed hardcore in favor of a mellower modus operandi, but characteristically rambunctious and informal.  Doggedly DIY and lo-fi, the band had an especially unique microphone fiend in Chris Giese.  After Cruel... was cut, an equally appealing Soup spinoff band, Buggerall existed, but details and recordings are woefully scant.  Alumni from both groups participated in Samiam, Wynona Riders and Sweet Baby  Cruel and Unusual is a small-of-fame favorite of mine, and if you like what you hear there's also this.

The Cosmopolitans - "(How to Keep) Your Husband Happy" + 2 7" (1980, Shake)

A Mitch Easter (yep, him again) production credit lured me to this single, not so much the attention grabbing picture sleeve.  The Cosmos (that's how I'm referring to them) were a kitschy female duo comprised of Jamie Sims and Nel Moore who briefly managed to ingratiate themselves into New York's wave movement.  This single, featuring their signature number "(How to Keep) Your Husband Happy" is novelty as they come, and strikingly dissonant on top of that.  The tune in question features prominent dialogue aimed at any and all wives within earshot on how to sustain marital bliss.  The effect is similar to what Nada Surf employed on their alterna-hit "Popular," but I can't quite ascertain if the Nada guys took inspiration from the Cosmos.  Wouldn't surprise me though.  The dancy, B-52s-ish "Wild Moose Party" is the stronger of the two flips, but there isn't an iota of tuneage on this record that would suggest Easter provided any creative involvement or insight.  BTW, Faye Hunter of Mitch Easter's Let's Active is credited with backing vocals.

Red Buckets - Palm Sunday/Xacto Knife 7" (1982, Burn Potential)

This one had been on my want list for a spell.  And speaking of spells, I was under that exactly upon hearing Red Bucket's contribution, "Something Else Again" to the I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia compilation.  That song portended an intoxicating and edgy merger of post-punk and power pop.  This single, the Bucket's lone proper release, was a must have, and low and behold this year I was fortunate enough to track it down.  The two songs here skew more to the post-punk side of the spectrum, not instantly memorable perhaps, but more rewarding on subsequent rotations.  Recorded as a trio, the Buckets appended a fourth member, Michael Carlucci who did double duty in Winter Hours.  As a quartet, R/B seemed to embrace a more melodic penchant.  This development yielded a sound more in keeping with The Feelies, whom the band also had ties to.  You can read a much more exhaustive history on the Buckets over at tapewrecks blog, who are also hosting a handful of the combo's excellent unreleased demos.

B-Lovers - Ok...Go! 7" (1982, Sabine)

And last but not least, a pit-stop to Champaign, IL for the B-Lovers one and only wax artifact.  I've been an enthusiast for a wilfully obscure chestnut of an indie-jangle masterpiece titled Soul Light Season, a 1985 ep made responsible by none other than Turning Curious.  Only six songs that one, and nothing more in the archives, so when I discovered that T/C began life as B-Lovers, and released a 7" no less, I jumped on it like white on rice, as they say.  The three compositions adorning this rare lacquer aren't as sophisticated as their future Turning Curious endeavors, but the creative germ was firmly in place and still fairly delightful.  Singer and frontman Nick Rudd would eventually concoct music in the latter half of the '80s and beyond in aggregations like The Arms of Someone New, The Big Maybe and Weird Summer.

Download everything in one fell swoop in your choice of  MP3  or  FLAC

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Three EPs that time forgot: Macchu Picchu, The Fingers and Rocking Shapes.

On average I purchase anywhere from 25 to 50 vinyl EPs a year from bygone indie artists that were only active in the late twentieth century.  Here are some of the better catches from my fishing net, including two acts who haven't shown their faces on these pages before.

Macchu Picchu - s/t ep (1987)

Their name may conjure up a locale that's high and mighty, but Macchu Picchu's aesthetic was considerably more down to earth.  A co-ed New Jersey six-piece, these guys (and gal) settled on a new-wavish hue that's wasn't overfilled with dominating snyths, or dominating anything for that matter, save for some par excellence melodies.  While certainly a tangible product of their era, M/P were hardly slaves thereof.  Some highlights?  "Canada" is laden with a veritable bouquet of clever, praiseworthy couplets about are allies to the north, and packs a pulsating rhythmic aplomb to boot.  The "my fave" award goes to the next track in, the Julie Holland-sung "Hologram," which is as they say, undeniably catchy.

01. Canada
02. Hologram
03. Joe
04. Sex Police
05. Sound of Love

MP3  or  FLAC

The Fingers - Fingers on the Radio ep (1980, Smart Fun)

Not to confused with another band of the same moniker I featured some years ago, these forty digits belonged to a quartet with a Coronado, CA correspondence address.  The Fingers are something of a nightmare when it comes to relevant search engine queries, but an utter dream come true for aficionados of power pop's golden era, circa late '70s/early '80s. Golden throat Joey Harris bears an inflection strikingly akin to that of Elvis Costello, but his cohorts are considerably more subtle in tact.  "Too Young" is worth the price of admission alone, boasting warm reverb and pristine chorus harmonies to die for, with the rest of the record following in close pursuit.  Devastating.

01. Too Young
02. New Girl
03. Blow Me Away
04. Kathy Come Back

MP3  or  FLAC

The Rocking Shapes - Shout! ep (1983, Home Wrecords)

This one is so killer, Devo stole it's title for their lackluster 1984 album.  I introduced you to Rocking Shapes in 2014, by way of a subsequent, proto-indie rock single that I dug just as much as this five-song ep, which is sadly the closest this Lafayette, LA troupe would come to issuing an album. The rather off-kilter, homegrown record sleeve to your left is slyly reflective of the Shapes sonic palette, who seemed to have one foot steeped in Television and the Dream Syndicate, while forecasting '80s off-the-radar scenesters like the Libertines and Pedaljets.  This blurb alone surely can't convey what I'm feebly attempting to illustrate, so I hereby invite you to draw your own conclusions.  Enjoy (you will).

01. The Mirror
02. Caught in the Radar
03. The Umbrella Man
04. Normandy
05. Girls Like You

MP3  or  FLAC

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Plasterscene Replicas ‎- Glow (1988, Raining)

It seems every year I come across a seriously Chaunkah-worthy indie pop relic from the Reagan-era (or in the case of these Canucks, the Mulroney era) that was entirely unfamiliar to me the year prior.  So how did Toronto's Plasterscene Replicas make my much belated radar?

I believe I encountered their name in the "thank you" credits in a Change of Heart album, and by coincidence, not long after, I found PR's Glow while browsing at a record store up north.  Truth be told, I've presented a lot of bands like the Replicas over the years - forward thinking guitar rock with mildly oblique lyrics and a dash of melancholia.  Sonically, they fit the bill as well - sweet, echoing guitars that are simultaneously crunchy yet jangly, backed by a tight, spotless rhythm section.  In short, a shoo-in for the college radio circuit, though I'm not certain how much traction PR had south of the Canadian boarder.  And almost everything here is golden - "What Could Be Incomplete," "All I See," and the sprite, assertive opener "We Can Walk" to name but three.  Glow often emanates the feel of a vintage Don Dixon or Mitch Easter production, and while there are traces of Game Theory and early Dreams So Real, there are beefier angularities that point to the likes of early Northern Pikes, Big Country (less obviously), and the Replica's Irish contemporaries Cactus World News.  I'm lovin' this one mightily.

PR co-guitarist/frontman Charlie Salmon passed on in 2013.  An article on Toronto's Now magazine site offers some background details on him and the Plasterscene Replicas is general.

01. We Can Walk
02. Things You Hold
03. Doldrums
04. What Could Be Incomplete
05. Trains
06. Pull Out
07. All I See
08. Hot Sand
09. Holler
10. Town Crier
11. Falling Down the Stairs
12. You've Got the Way

MP3  or  FLAC

Friday, December 15, 2017

Off Broadway (USA) - Live in studio 1980, and unreleased.

I thought this would be an appropriate follow-up to last nights Cheap Trick indulgence.  Let's see.  I don't think I've talked up Off Broadway (USA) before on here, but like Trick, they also hailed from the environs of Chicago, and like it or not, were lumped in the power pop ghetto.

Like contemporaries Shoes, Off Broadway were airtight and economical, but throaty frontman Cliff Johnson lent the band a sturdy, muscular forte.  The quintet's linear but groove-savvy attack was perfectly evidenced on their debut, 1979's On, featuring a bevy of dynamite signature pieces like "Bad Indication," "Stay in Time," and "Full Moon Turn My Head Around."  On's wall-to-wall cavalcade of hooks was so potent it may as well have been a greatest hits album unto itself, and in another years time they delivered another knockout, Quick Turns.  Collectively, neither album generated a Top-40 entry, although "Stay in Time" did respectfully on regional radio outlets.  By 1983 it was over.

Short of sharing those two albums (were have been made available again) I at the very least have a couple of less common items, or quite frankly, bootlegs.  First is a live performance cut in-studio for WIBA, a Madison, WI FM station in May of '80.  A small but appreciative crowd is present for fourteen right and tight tracks, including a preview of several songs that would comprise the Quick Turns LP.  You won't find much deviation between O/B's live and studio delivery of their repertoire, but Johnson's inter-song banter is amusing.

Next up is a collection of studio tracks I have insufficient amount of pertinent info on, but from what I'm able to glean it's material that was intended for a third studio record, circa 1983.  The first half of these tunes were largely in keeping with the vibe of On and Turns, while the rest varies.  I can only offer these in a relatively meager birate.  Apologies in advance.  Ironically, Off Broadway reunited in the mid '90s for a proper studio record, Fallin' In, though the songs here don't overlap.  Enjoy.

Live In The Studio 10/29/80, WIBA FM, Madison, WI -  MP3  or  FLAC
01 - Bad Indication
02 - Bad Girl 
03 - Bully Bully 
04 - Automatic 
05 - US Girls 
06 - Oh Boy! 
07 - Showdown 
08 - Quick Turns 
09 - Are You Alone 
10 - Boys Must Be Strong 
11 - Eddie's Pals 
12 - Stay In Time 
13 - Hang On For Love 
14 - Full Moon Turn My Head Around

Unreleased (1983?)  MP3
01. 1, 2, 3
02. Everybody Loves A Winner
03. My Soul
04. Take a Holiday
05. Any Kind of Love
06. Getting There is Half the Fun
07. instrumental
08. Battle of the Bands
09. Bring on the Band
10. Hello Aloha
11. Lifeline
12. You've Got Style

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cheap Trick - One on One and Next Position Please session outtakes, alt versions (1982-83)

I'm going to go out on a limb here are say something that many of you may find to the contrary, yet I know in my heart of hearts I'm correct.  Cheap Trick haven't made a great, thoroughly consistent album since roughly 1983.  I said it, and I'm sticking by that assertion.  Then again some critics would go as far to say that the band started to lose it all the way back to the Dream Police era.

It didn't help that the follow-up to Dream Police, the ill fated, George Martin-produced All Shook Up, was an unmemorable and unrepresentative misstep, but Robin Zander and the boys recovered on their sixth and seventh platters One on One and Next Position Please.  Granted, neither of those records saw the band regaining their once idiosyncratic footing of their initial trifecta of masterpieces (Cheap Trick, In Color and Heaven Tonight), but One on One, and especially the Todd Rundgren commandeered Next Position... proved to genuinely satisfying pop-rock jewels, that at their infrequent worst were a tad frivolous.  Even more remarkably, the band cut these disks without the involvement of longtime bassist Tom Peterson.  

Amidst this 21-song set of alternate takes and works-in-progress for the aforementioned 1982/83 disks, we don't get to hear variations of some of their best songs from this era - "She's Tight," "I Can't Take It," and "Next Position Please" to name a few which are sadly AWOL here.  What we are treated to are refreshingly raw romps through equally stimulating salvos like "Lookin' Out for Number One," "Love's Got a Hold On Me," and "You Talk Too Much." Other cuts are represented in their instrumental versions ("Play By the Rules," "Invaders of the Heart").  Fun, but it helps to familiarize yourself with the album versions first if you haven't done so already.  There are no less than three distinctive versions of Trick's power ballad "If You Want My Love," plus an outtake of "I Want Be Man."  If you recall, the vocals on that particular One on One monstrosity were gratingly mechanized, but on this alternate incarnation, not to so much.  The entirely unreleased "Fool Yourself," vaguely angles back to their earlier stuff, and we even get another exclusive number in the guise of "Tell Me What to Do."

An enormous amount can be said about Cheap Trick's post-Next Position Please era, the vast majority of which is quite unflattering, at least speaking in terms of recorded material.  They hit a colossal low in 1987 with Lap of Luxury, the album that generated the fluffy, antiseptic monster ballad, "The Flame." It would be another twenty years for them to approach anything resembling greatness.  For what it's worth, their 2006 set, Rockford is deserving of any Trick fan's time and dinero.

One on One-era:
Fool Yourself/I Want Be Man/I Want You/If You Want My Love (three vers)/I'm Hot (inst)/Looking Out For Number One/Oh La La/Saturday at Midnight (two vers)/Tell Me What to Do/Twisted Heart/Whatcha Gonna Do About It/Your Love's Got a Hold on Me

Next Position Please
Don't Hit Me With Love/Don't Make Our Love a Crime/Invaders of the Heart (inst)/Play By the Rules/Y.O.Y.O.Y./You Talk Too Much


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hüsker Dü - Celebrated Summer Winter Pt. 2: radio interviews, Candy Apple Grey demos, and unavailable b-sides.

Hope you're enjoying a happy and heart second night of the festival of lights.  Last night we partook in a couple of primo Hüsker concerts, shrouding ourselves in the full bore roar of Minneapolis unlikely geniuses.  Now it's time to cut a beeline to the studio...and believe it or not, the phone lines.

Chances are Bob, Grant and Greg partook in scores of phone and live-to-air left-of-the-radio station interviews, but the number of which that were captured on tape from those keeping score at home may only number in the low dozens, if that.  Submitted for your approval are two fairly complete exchanges, which to a certain extent may not count as fully representative considering Bob was the only party involved.   The briefer of these two conversations, the May '85 WREK interview is probably ranks as merely good, where as the one conducted with Minneapolis community outlet, KFAI is far more insightful.  There are two reasons for this.  First, Bob himself fields a bevy of unscreened questions from locally call-in listeners.  Secondly, in this comparatively docile context, you get a better understanding of the man himself who is extricated from the stage and his trio's attendant concussive maelstrom.  No egos or airs in the least on his end, and he even engages the DJ regarding his affinity for professional wrestling.  In the interview portion of the download, you'll also find a Bob Mould soundcheck, which was contributed to Vol. 10 of the Tellus cassette zine, circa 1985.  Today, we would likely refer to such an endeavor as a podcast, but I digress.

Next up, the demos for H/D's major label debut Candy Apple Grey may not exude any out-and-out revelations, but anything unreleased by these guys, even if they are just in-progress incarnations, will no doubt fascinate die-hard acolytes.  Many tracks appear in rough, instrumental sketches, whereas "Don't Want to Know if You Are Lonely" and "Dead Set on Destruction" are reasonable blueprints for what would become the finished versions.  We're even treated to some thoroughly unreleased cuts that never made it past the demo stage - "Misty Modern Days" and "Just Be," which granted, are instrumentals - but that latter one kinda cranks.

And finally, I've cobbled together the vast majority of Hüsker Dü's Warner Bros era flipsides.  Like it or not, every band has 'em, and if anything else the band knew what songs to prioritize for the album.  Unbeknownst to a lot of fans, the band would occasionally preform acoustic, and we're treated to live, stripped down takes of the typically shredding "Celebrated Summer" and "Flexible Flyer," from a 1986 Hollywood Roxy show.  "Fattie" is an imposing, Metal Machine Music style piece, the lengthy and underwritten "All Work and No Play" is a strangely alluring slice of naval-gazing rock, while the sprite basher, "Everytime" features the lead vocals of none other than bassist Greg Norton!

A big round of applause goes out to any and all of you that hooked me up with much of this material, in some cases decades ago.  And on behalf of a grateful nation, let's all thank the original three architects of these wondrous and timeless songs.  R.I.P. Grant Hart.

Interviews - MP3  or  FLAC
WREK Atlanta, 5/29/85
KFAI Minneapolis, Jan. 1986
Bob Mould 1985 soundcheck on Tellus #10 cassette zine

Candy Apple Grey demos - MP3  or  FLAC
01. Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely
02. Crystal (instrumental)
03. Sorry Somehow
04. I Don't Know For Sure (instrumental)
05. Hardly Getting Over It
06. All Work And No Play (instrumental)
07. Dead Set On Destruction
08. Eiffel Tower High
09. Misty Modern Day (instrumental)
10. All This I've Done For You
11. Just Be (instrumental)
12. Hardly Getting Over It (instrumental)
13. I Don't Know For Sure (mix)

B-sides (1986-87)  MP3
01. All Work And No Play (b-side, Don't Want to Know...)
02. Helter Skelter (b-side, Don't Want to Know...)
03. Celebrated Summer [Live Acoustic] (b-side, Sorry Somehow)
04. Flexible Flier [Live Acoustic] (b-side, Sorry Somehow)
05. Fattie
06. Everytime (b-side, Could You Be the One?)
07. Gotta Lotta (b-side, Ice Cold Ice)
08. Christmas Greetings (We Wish You A Merry Christmas) (WB promo cassette)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hüsker Dü - Celebrated Summer Winter Pt. 1: Live 1982/85 and more.

Witnessing the video for Hüsker Dü's "Makes No Sense At All"/"Love is All Around" on 120 Minutes in the fall of 1989, was the most visceral four-minute sales pitch I encountered in my entire life.  Maybe it didn't alter the ground I was standing on, so to speak, but it placed me on an exciting new trajectory that would lead to the discovery of literally hundreds of other artists with similar ideals and templates, not to mention the universe of indie rock in general.  Indirectly, my acquaintanceship with Bob Mould, Grant Hart and Greg Norton led to personal friendships, and even got me into the tape trading thing (remember that?).  Yes, that one fateful video (which from my vantage point might as well have been filmed on a home camcorder) made ripples that sill reverberate to this day.  "Who were these guys?" I thought to myself at the time.  Why the hell were they wearing street clothes?  SST Records?  Never heard of them.  And for God's sake, I thought Flying V Gibsons were exclusively the province of hair farmers like Poison. 

Being stuck in a small town in the '80s and early '90s finding indie titles invariably entailed mail-ordering.  So, while I was patiently awaiting a clutch of Hüsker tapes and records from SST, I investigated their Warner Bros releases, beginning with the sprawling Warehouse: Songs and Stories double album.  It may not have had quite the same velocity as say, Metal Circus, but I was bowled over nonetheless with the band's dual delivery system of profound melodic structures and unyielding swift tempos (that of course, ebbed appropriately on ballads like "No Reservations").  In 1990 I accumulated their catalog in short order, and absorbed it meticulously, song-by-song.  And in that very same year I was even treated to Bob Mould's subdued Workbook.  Around this time I put my feelers out there for any other Dü-rights like myself, and fortunately I wasn't alone in the world.
debut solo record,

Despite their breakup, not much earlier than my discovery of them they would soon become my go-to band of choice.  To paraphrase the great Michael Azerrad in his tome Our Band Could Be Your Life, Hüsker Dü were the kind of band you could hang your hat on.  Not so much in terms of political philosophy mind you, but the little trio from Minneapolis that could spouted a wellspring of truisms and empathetic sentiments on matters ranging from romance to society.  And the tangled latticework of feedback, hooks and then some which accompanied it was nothing short of flabbergasting.  While not always adequately acknowledged during their existence, the group has been canonized and immensely revered post their early-1988 breakup.

Ironically, 2017 turned out to be one of Hüsker Dü's most relevant years ever, even if all three participants hadn't been in the same room together for a solid three decades.  Tragically, and surprisingly to many fans, drummer/mouthpiece/co-songwriter Grant Hart passed away from cancer on September 13.  And roughly two months thereafter saw the arrival of Savage Young Du, an artfully and painstakingly crafted multi-disk box set featured mostly unreleased archival live and studio material culled from the earliest years of their tenure.  A remastered version of their first studio full length, Everything Falls Apart was also included.

Over the course of the first two nights of Chanukah, I'm going to feature a slim archival trove of my own.  The bulk of the first installment concerns two complete live sets.  Hüsker Dü's December 28, 1982 performance in Tuscon, AZ was thoughtfully captured on tape, and bootlegged multiple times under the moniker of Ultracore.  This rip wasn't taken from that often shady sounding piece of wax, rather another source tape.  The gig in question finds the fab three on the threshold of a more melodic modus operandi, while still keeping the breakneck thrust of their nascent years intact.  The crowd is treated to numerous songs from the then-forthcoming and soon-to-be seminal ep Metal Circus.  An absolute and utter scorcher.

I've never attended a Hüsker Dü (nor will I) but I'm convinced they never gave a poor performance, save for any external circumstances beyond their control.  By the time of this May 1985 gig in Toronto, the band was at the apex of their playing and songwriting aptitude, having paid their dues at pretty much every notable punk squat/dive in the country.  They were on the verge of graduating to larger venues, not to mention a considerably more sizable record label.  I would peg this show as having occurred between the New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig records, as the setlist draws heavily from both.  This is logical given Hüsker Dü's notorious penchant for previewing future album material in concert.  Audio quality is a little too bass-y for my tastes, but overall an above satisfactory audience tape at the height of their creative peak.

I'm including a third "mystery" file, that you'll just have to download to reveal its nature. Cool?  Thought so.  Tune in tomorrow evening for the second tranche of Hüsker goodies.  Links and tracklists are as follows.

Backstage, Tuscon AZ 12-28-82  MP3  or FLAC

In a Free Land/Target/What Do I Want?/M.I.C./From the Gut/Blah Blah Blah/Wheels/Everything Falls Apart/It's Not Funny/Real World/Standing by the Sea/Deadly Skies/Out on a Limb/Bricklayer/T ired of Doing Things/Afraid of Being Wrong/Strange Week/Big Sky/Ultracore/Let's Go Die/Data Control/Sunshine Superman/Statues/Punch Drunk 

Larry's Hideaway, Toronto ON, 5/2/85  MP3  or  FLAC
New Day Rising/It's Not Funny Any More/Everything Falls Apart/The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill/I Apologize/If I told you/Folklore/Every Everything/Makes no Sense at All/Keep Hanging On/Find Me/Terms Of Psychic Warfare/Powerline/Books About UFOs/Chartered Trips/Diane/Hate Paper Doll/Green Eyes/Divide and Conquer/Eight Miles High/Ticket to Ride/Pink Turns to Blue/Recurring Dreams~The Wit And The Wisdom~Recurring Dreams/Love is All Around

Mystery bonus - MP3  or  FLAC

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I call you up, but you just bring me down...

A major league favorite of mine.  Should've been huge.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Watching the candles burn...BFD uploads a 'comin Tuesday evening for Chanukah 2017.

Let's face it.  Content-wise I haven't given you as much this year as I typically do.  There are myriad reasons for this - chronic procrastination, overtime at the office, depression ruts, fatigue, and of course, good old fashioned laziness.  But beginning this Tuesday evening for one week and one day, all will be right and proper with the universe.

In what has become an annual tradition on Wilfully Obscure (not to mention the ever increasing bane of my sanity) I'll be rolling out extra special, super duper entries over the week of Chanukah.   Beginning in 2012, I decided to spread the goodies out over the eight nights of Chanukah (check out the preliminary details for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.  This made sense on a couple of levels.  For one, it gives me a convenient excuse to share several mind-blowing "gifts" instead of just one biggie on Christmas.  Secondly, Chanukah represents personal relevance to me.  We all know you were envious of that boy down the block who had a yarmulke festooned to his head, who was given the privilege of lighting the menorah, and of course, reveling in eight glorious nights of presents.  Once again, I'm paying it forward.  Previous Chanukah entries have featured Wire, Velocity Girl, Jellyfish, The Pursuit of Happiness and Redd Kross, but name recognition is not hardly a guarantee.  As in past years, there will definitely be familiar faces, but also several participants that have never garnered face-time on W/O.

At the top of each Chanukah upload will be a thumbnail photo of a menorah, with the appropriate number of lit candles to denote each succeeding evening until all eight slots in the candelabra are occupied on the concluding night, December 19th.

All of this begs the question, "Has Wilfully Obscure been holding out on us for the last 11 months?"  Somewhat...but not quite.  In short, the presents I plan on revealing over the eight nights of Chanukah are of considerably high caliber.  I like to think that everything I share qualifies as good to excellent, but to paraphrase that sage Orwellian dictum, some are more equal than others.

A few housekeeping tidbits to be bear in mind.
  • I was originally planning a big fat opening night, but decided it would be too I'll partition it out across this Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.  No worries though, as I'm certain you'll be Düly rewarded.
  • No box sets this year.  Ain't going there.  Maybe next time.
  • If I can offer files in FLAC (in addition to standard MP3) I will.  If I don't post a FLAC download link for a certain title you can assume it's not available in that format.
  • Mystery Monday will be active this week as usual, but not next Mon (Dec. 18).
Come around sundown this Tuesday, and as always, download responsibly.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Searchers - Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981 (2017, Omnivore) - A brief overview.

If you're of a certain age (say fifties or older) you'd be forgiven if the only Searchers songs you might be able to conjure up chestnuts from the band's initial reign like "Needles and Pins" or "Love Potion No. 9."  The Searchers were after all a product of the UK Merseybeat era, and a successful Brit Invasion contender in the States.  Hailing from Liverpool however, it's hard to ignore the fact that they were edged out by another considerably more contagious quartet from the same town. Nonetheless, between 1963-65 the Searchers were responsible for roughly a dozen charting singles - a respectable feat in era of more than enough like-minded outfits vying for precious space in record racks on both sides of the Atlantic.

By the late '60s, their singles run had dried up, and throughout the majority of the 70s the band (with a rotating cast of members) kept a comparatively low profile, playing gigs on their home turf.  In reality, the Searchers were hardly sought after, so to speak.  Enter Seymour Stein, founder of Sire Records in America, who was a huge fan and believer of the Searchers who reached out to his Brit heroes with the prospect of reviving the band's career.  The result were two new albums - 1979's self titled album, and an especially potent follow-up in 1981, Love's Melodies, both of which have been restored and expanded on Omnivore's two disk Searchers collection Another Night: The Sire Recordings

Hardly picking up where they left off in their halcyon era, the Searchers showed up with not only new material, but a fresh modus operandi that had more in common with Nick Lowe than the Fab Four.  In numerous respects, this hardy crew really was the best kept secret in their league, quite literally as the Searchers had seemingly lost their initial fanbase from a decade and a half prior.  Problem was, they didn't quite grab the ears of new listeners either, who had gravitated to hipper purveyors like Elvis Costello and Squeeze.  I suppose you could chalk that up to the Searchers not conveying themselves as hipsters at all, gravitating more to the Bay City Rollers end of the power pop spectrum at least on their 1979 comeback effort.  Sure, they slapped on a skinny tie or two, but image wasn't the goal.  Luckily, the tunes were - and melodious salvos like "It's Too Late," "Switchboard Susan," and "Hearts in Her Eyes" (the latter written by The Records Will Birch and John Wicks).  Some stray forays into country-rock and overly sappy balladry are evidenced on The Searchers as well, but thankfully not egregious enough to put a damper on everything.

Love's Melodies, though chiseled from much of the same aesthetics as the aforementioned record, is an improvement on virtually all fronts, with the Searchers conveying stronger songs and an assertiveness to boot, even if a healthy dollop of preciousness was still intact.  Virtually anywhere the needle or laser lands yields some variance of stick-to-your-ribs goodness.  Admittedly Love's Melodies is polished and linear as all-get-out, but it's a formula that suits deftly effective selections such as "Silver," "little Bit of Heaven" and the title track to a T.   A reading of Big Star's signature piece, "September Girls" sounds splendid, even if it's undergone some subtle tweaks (I'll let you figure out where).  Safe to say if the Searchers power pop contemporaries including Hawks and Rubinoos did the trick for you, this platter will work the same magic.  We get four bonus tracks on this one, including all of the contemporary b-sides, and a John Hiatt penned outtake, "Ambulance Chaser."

To reiterate, the Searchers weren't hipsters or punks, and for that matters didn't even have a foothold in the emerging new romantic movement. True, these records are a trifle deficient in the innovation department, yet the band in question transcends this situation with a bouquet of quality material and hook-savvy panache, keeping them competitive with virtually any of their era's blossoming youngsters.  Another Night is available straight from Omnivore, and Amazon.  Get it.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Not Shakespeare - Edge of the World (1992, Not)

Not Shakespeare's self titled 1986 ep blew me AWAY...when I heard it for the first time almost twenty-five years later.  Yep, another one who made his way to the party a quarter century after the fact, though given the strength of the four songs on that record late was way more preferable than never.  And I didn't even realize there was a follow-up full length that existed until I stumbled upon it in a used music shop just a couple years back.  By 1992, this Blacksburg, VA quartet traded in some of their collegiate indie rock luster for more streamlined pastures while still retaining more than a modicum of earthy jangle.  It's pretty evident that Roger McGuinn cast a spell on these gents, and I'd almost swear N/S adopted a thing or two from late-80s R.E.M., the Pedaljets and Dreams So Real.  Edge of the World boasts an Americana tincture in places, which might take some getting used to for those of you whom only know them by that stunning aforementioned ep.  I can do without some of this disk's more long-winded ambling numbers, but pearls like "An Age Like This" and "Sister" compensate perfectly. 

01. Sister
02. Pockets
03. Stone
04. Burn
05. An Age Like This
06. Flood
07. He Says
08. Peace Prize
09. Conversation
10. Vertigo
11. Let Me In


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Her lovers have her walking `round on instruments of torture...

Four eps from four different decades.  A veritable cavalcade of veteran heavy hitters...and one newbie.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Crossfire Choir - Dominique (1991, CBGB/OMFUG)

The Crossfire Choir circle is now complete, with the addition of their third and final album on these pages.  I mentioned when I launched their first album a few weeks ago that C/C seemed to gain credibility as their tenure progressed, but as it turns out that metamorphosis wasn't as pronounced as I initially thought.  Nonetheless, out of their trifecta of platters, Dominique is probably the most recommendable.  Perhaps the most interesting development is that the album was released by CBGB's in-house record label.  I'm not sure what Hilly Kristal saw in these lads, as they don't bear much of a punk pedigree, but something tells me Crossfire Choir must have gone off like a firecracker in that noted and now defunct lower Manhattan venue.  Now that I think about it, there are some pretty choice aggro numbers here like "I Know You Are" and "Can of Worms" which kick up more than their fair share of dust.  Elsewhere, C/C's prowess on Dominique is a little more tuneful and straitlaced with "If This is a Joke" and "Showdown" hovering in the vicinity of the Smithereens and Dreams so Real.  Not a bad place to be I suppose.  There's oodles of songs here - almost a double album's worth, so dive in and have at it.

01. Month of Sundays
02. She Cries
03. If This is a Joke
04. People Claws
05. Everything Girls
06. Field of Lilacs
07. Showdown
08. Testify
09. I Know You Are
10. Ghosts
11. Hand Out
12. Can of Worms
13. Upside Down
14. Heroic Ceaser
15. Yak Yak
16. Headspins
17. Frightened


Friday, December 1, 2017

Facts About Rats - I Don't Wanna Get Involved With You 7" (1992, Stanton Park)

"Nirvana's boring...Seattle's mainstream...What's a band to do???  Do what comes naturally!"

Or so goes the introductory blurb of the bio that accompanied my copy of Facts About Rats' 7," a veritable quarter-century old relic at this point.  The Rats comprised five guys from Beantown, who do in fact exude punk rock in relatively natural fashion.  But that's really not that remarkable of a revelation given that mic fiend Bobby Gaudeau performed a stint in the Queers, and even takes one of their songs to task on the a-side of this wax.  A Ramones-y stride is more than evident on this triple threat 45, and coincidentally or not, the Rats wouldn't sound out of place on a bill with another one of their contemporaries, the Action Swingers.  A ballsy, no-nonsense tact ensured these dudes would never be mistaken for any of the generic, left-coast fluff that was all too prevalent at this time.  A very solid 7," and apparently the only recorded document by the Rats that was ever in any kind of circulation.  They also contributed a track to the hardcore comp Apocalyptic Convulsions, which I'm also including in this download.  A mere four song discography you might ask?  This appears to be the case, but I'll take that over nothin' any day.

A. I Don't Wanna Get Involved With You
B1. Never Let You Go
B2. Go Away

plus: Still Want You (from Apocalyptic Convulsions comp, 1992)