WHAT "ON VINYL / TO THE STARS" 7"
(AKRON, OH- WHAT RECORDS INC, 1984)
CLEVELAND-AREA SERIES, PART 2
These labels for this sleeveless record provide some clues related to the band
(but not for any actual band members themselves)- see my "Endnotes" section below
for the details...
Here is a record and band that is pretty much a mystery. It's not a punk record, but the A-side has those outsider qualities that will appeal to punk fans (at least it does to me). If anything, I'd describe the great song "On Vinyl" something like garage-y hard rock if that description makes any sense. Whatever it is, I dig it and it brings a smile to my face because from the goofy "Rock Me" intro and the opening riff you know you're in for a good, weird time. The band is very enthusiastic- especially that drummer!- and so darn excited that they're in the studio making a record. And the vocals- wow, they really stand out. The singer sings in a faux high-pitched style for some reason unknown to all of us (that CAN'T be his regular talking voice) and the vocals are what really make this song stand out. Blog commenter Clayton Silva who hipped me to this song about two years ago (and provided rips of both sides- thanks again!) said the singer reminds him of Snuky Tate, and I think that's accurate. But kinda like if Snuky inhaled a helium balloon to get all high-pitched, eh.
The lyrics are totally awesome and talk about- you guessed it- how the band is making a record and is going to be on vinyl. It sounds improvised to me at times which only adds to the charm of this song. I kind of picture the band getting sauced up at someone's house one night and then saying "Godammit, let's make a record tonight!" and then promptly going over to a studio on a whim to record "On Vinyl" and just totally winging it with the playing and the vocals and only having a rough road map of how the song was laid out when they hit the record button. The extended noodling in the guitar solos (plural!) totally point to some improvising, me thinks, especially at the 3:37 mark where things seem to slow down until he launches into another solo. Great tune. And, at a total time of over 4 minutes, far past the usual 2 minute punk song length.
The B-side is a slow, dreamy tune which meanders too long for me with a total running time of over 5 minutes (!). My ears are used to 2 minutes, and I can do 4 minutes but sometimes when songs go into the territory of 5-plus minutes then my mind starts to wander and I lose interest. There is some sloppy playing in it and some off-key parts where the drummer loses pace and stumbles and the guitar player goes out of tune, which is nice, but it can't match the A-side's inspired nature. Not that anything else they recorded could have. Maybe they recorded "On Vinyl" first while buzzing and feeling good but then they toked up and got totally wasted (and totally mellowed out from too much smokey) and recorded the B-side while hallucinating or something while the night was winding down (?). Like I said at the beginning of this post, I really don't know anything about the band or the backstory of the record- information is very scant on the interwebs- so this is all speculation. Googling "What On Vinyl Akron Ohio" emits predictable dead-end results and a bunch of horseshit totally unrelated to the band or record.
Any filling in of details or information you have would be greatly appreciated.
To The Stars.mp3
I know nothing about the band, but thankfully the information provided on the labels provide some related clues. Well, first of all, the address on the labels is a residential address (thanks, Google Maps) and NOT an office or business address. So this was someone's house, presumably one of the band members.
And for those who don’t know, Akron is about 40 miles due South of my hometown of Cleveland. So I always love hearing records from the Cleveland / Northeastern Ohio area and am usually impartial to bands from there. Cleveland, of course, has such a great history full of original, groundbreaking punk- and music in general for that matter (jazz and other genres). And outsiderness/creativity! Akron's nickname is "Rubber City" which comes from the fact that two huge tire companies (Goodyear and Firestone) were based out of there beginning in about 1900. Goodyear is still headquartered in Akron but Firestone nearly imploded by 1979 and was restructured and moved out of town but that's really yet another depressing story for the local Akron economy, and Ohio in general.
Anyway, Akron is most well known for being the original home of The Rubber City Rebels before they moved to Los Angeles. And OF COURSE Akron is well-remembered for the awesome Hammer Damage song "Laugh". And now the great song "On Vinyl" by WHAT, eh. And the home of the eccentric Clone label. The Bizzaros were also from Akron and were more of a rock band sometimes and not punk per se.
Let's go back to the labels on the WHAT record- which is their second of two 7"s by the way- more on that later. We see that writing credits were given to two people with the last name Murdi, as well as Nooch and Hable. Searches on these names led me nowhere. However, the production credits got me somewhere. The record was produced by Jim Newcomb, Lanny Walter and WHAT. I happened to find out that Lanny Walter was actually Landolin "Lanny" G. Walter who was an Akron radio engineer and radio announcer for many years. His radio name was "David Steele" (almost sounds like a porn name, eh) and had a long stint at WAKR 1590 AM between 1984 and 1999. In Akron's sister city of Canton (home of the football hall of fame- which was always a school field trip for kids from Cleveland by the way), Lanny was also an announcer at stations WINW, WOIO (WRCW), and WQIO (WRCW) and Chief Engineer at WHLQ (WOOS) from 1975 to 1977. How did I find this all out? Well, he actually died in late 2011 and this was all in an online obituary. Ah, the power of the internet. So maybe someone connected WHAT with this local announcer Mr. Walter, or the band got his attention somehow, and that's how they were able to record the "On Vinyl" 7", etc. Perhaps that person was the other production credit, Jim Newcomb, who also produced the first WHAT record. Through some online research I think Jim Newcomb might actually be a nickname for one "Harold James Newcomb" but that is speculation again.
Oh yeah- that first WHAT record. It was a 3-song EP which was released in 1983 but Clayton Silva warns me that it's a pretty bad traditional rock record and NOTHING even closely resembling the great freakout of "On Vinyl". The 3 songs on it are "Hard Rocker," "The Cynical Blitz," and "Killer Machine" (all suspicious sounding, cock rock-ish titles I think). Plus the song "Hard Rocker" clocks in at over 7 minutes (!)- cover your ears and run for the hills! I happened to find an old auction listing on Collectors Frenzy from early 2010. Of course the record is hyped- er, I mean "described" by the seller waterpolo85- as "Excellent lo-fi bedroom psychedelic rock" and "Rare Rock Psych 45" which is funny given how Clayton warned me of its crappiness. Here's a picture of the labels:
6. Senior Power
7. Real Romance
8. C.T. 'I
10. Can't Get No Tomorrow
Richy (aka R. D'Lima?) = vocals
Ricky Rivera = lead guitar
Tatico Requeña = rhythm guitar
Rene Cardona = bass
Rey Rivera = keyboards
Rigo = drums
Maria Luisa Pagan = back up vocals
Silvia Rico = back up vocals
Thanks to P.R. for unexpectedly hooking me with this LP a little while back! It was a welcome surprise, as I had never heard of it until he provided me the rips. I missed the Garage Hangover posting on the M.D.'s from October of 2008. They used to have a few sample mp3's from the LP up on their site but they have since disappeared for some reason.
Produced and Mixed By Veel
Here is another cool record from Belgium, home of many cool records and bands in the late 70's and early 80's (see The Kids, Hubble Bubble, Raxola et al). Belgium is not that big of a country, but they managed to- per capita- churn out many great records in the KBD years of roughly 1977 to 1982. And let's not forget the infamous Plastic Bertrand aka Roger Jouret drummed for Hubble Bubble before the whole "Ca Plaine Pour Moi" debacle.
During the vinyl comp boom of the mid-to-late 90's the best songs from the old scene were documented on four different all-Belgian comps: the first (and best, I think) was the Bloody Belgium LP in 1996, followed by three separate Bloodstains Across Belgium volumes between '97 and '99. And let's not forget that Belgian bands were "re-discovered" and placed onto very early KBD-type comps, starting with The Mad Virgins on 1989's Killed By Death #4 LP (which I still remember buying new at Pravda Records in Chicago when it came out from their "Import" racks, but that night is another story...)
Special thanks to whoever released the Bloody Belgium comp, because it helped bring the excellent Raxola LP to everyone's attention and dug rather deep into some very obscure singles. Like Veel- this comp is where I (and I assume many others) first heard their great, bouncy, quirky song "Money Grubber". It's melodic, extremely catchy, fast-paced and has some great sing-along, whistle-able "Whoa oh oh oh oh, whoa oh oh oh" parts mixed in as well. As well as some well-placed saxophone (and apparently trumpet?!) playing- I say "well placed" because too many horns in a punk song usually makes me grit my teeth in pain. But not here. And it sounds like the band are playing at that type of energetic pace where they all racing each other to the end, and this is always a good thing for my ears. The guitar strumming is so infectious too, especially at like the 1:23 mark. I think it's a very orginal, unique-sounding song in general and I struggle to think of other songs on other KBD-ish comps that sound similar to it. Which is a good thing of course.
I bought the Bloody Belgium comp when it came out in 1996 and many spins over the years of "Money Grubber" always made me curious to hear the other side of the Veel single. But no one that I traded music with over all of these years seemed to have it and it's remained very elusive to me. Until about a week ago! Out of the blue I unexpectedly got an e-mail from the former singer of Veel, Harold Bochmans, who was kind enough to provide me an mp3 of "Frustrated" (and gave me permission to post the Veel single). I have to admit that I felt a little nervous to finally hear "the other side", as "the other side" of a KBD single can mean pure pain and disappointment sometimes. But not here! I only feel happy, as "Frustrated" is just GREAT. There is a totally different vibe and approach to it compared to the upbeat flipside- "Frustrated" is a rather tense affair, and played much more in-your-face but at a slower pace. The guitar playing is great, as is the drumming and the singing style- just an all-around solid tune. These guys could really play their instruments too. And they totally sound frustrated! So the song name matches their feelings. Now that I've heard this song I wonder why it was never comped anywhere. Really a shame that it has remained so obscure and unheard over the years. Hopefully a fair number of people will visit this posting and help end that situation.
Thanks again to former singer Harold for providing these rips and giving the green light to post this record!
COMING SOON! I've got some more sidebar items related to Veel and Belgian punk but I don't want to hold up this posting anymore right now. Stay tuned for more...
DRIVERS "JOHNNY'S DYING / I'M NO MORON" 7"
(SANTA CRUZ, CA- OVERDRIVE, 1980)
3D- whoa! Er, this homemade sleeve looks pretty dated to me. However,
I would still love to have a vinyl copy of this record for cheap
instead of this price point. Both sides of this 7" were included on a
regional comp LP called Surf City Undergound, so the budget-minded can
hear them on vinyl that way.
I had heard of this record about a year ago but never actually heard what it sounded like until a few weeks ago, so many thanks to the blog commenter who provided these rips!
The oceanside cities outside of San Francisco, like Santa Cruz, are not really known for a lot of KBD-ish type over-the-top, frothing-mad records, save OF COURSE the snotty Insults who were from nearby Watsonville. Perhaps the proximity to the beach and a mellow lifestyle but, more importantly, a hippie-friendly environment in Santa Cruz precluded this lean towards quirky new wave in other bands from the same area. [For skate fans, of course there was/is Santa Cruz Skateboards which- from the late 70's through the early 90's- was branded as THE skate punk company. The ubiquitous Santa Cruz red dot logo shirt can be seen in many a picture from early 80's punk shows. But I won't get started on Santa Cruz the skate company and Steve Olson, Duane Peters, Jason Jessee, Tom Knox et al...]
Anyway, I think this Drivers 7" is very good- for me, the highlight is "Johnny's Dying". The guitar on it is very LOUD and in your face and begs to be cranked up. The playing on it is very tight and "professional" like this trio really knew how to play their instruments- check out that tight, rapid-fire drumming too. I have gotten so used to sloppy playing over the years on many of my favorite records, that bands like The Drivers almost sound TOO professional, too polished, too tight. But they pull it off nicely, including that tinnitus guitar solo, and wrap things up before the 2:42 mark, only 6 seconds past the "no songs over 2:36" rule. And it's got a rather tense quality underlying it which is always a good thing for me. Had the Hyped To Death CD comp series way back when made it to a volume dedicated to the letter D then I could see "Johnny's Dying" fitting nicely on it.
The B-side is a little goofier with the vocals and less serious and leans towards "new wave punk", but has a nice, in-your-face guitar solo that jumps out at the 1:09 mark. There is also some nice "chugga chugga" guitar in the beginning too. And things are over by the 1:37 mark- now IF it had lingered on much longer than I might have filed it under "annoying B-sides".
Im No Moron.mp3
Here is the band (l to r): Kevin Loose (guitar and vocals), Michael Litton (drums) and Dan Waller (bass). According to this site, the drummer also joined the hardcore band Scapegoats in the Fall of '81. Their song "Shitcan" appeared on MRR's iconic 1982's Not So Quiet on The Western Front double LP comp, and they also had a few songs on Version Sound's Meathouse cassette comp around that same time. But please know that Mr. Litton drummed for the Scapegoats AFTER their appearance on the MRR comp- thanks to the blog commenter who pointed this out.
The pace of some of the guitar riffs on "Another Kind of Man" and especially the sound of it sorta brings to mind the Plastic Idols' IUD. Very hummable, or whistle-able. The chugga chugga break at the 2:42 mark makes that part of the song sounds like it would fit nicely on the Victims' great Annette EP. Weird coincidence. The other tune, "Don't Be Tame", is a faster-paced, high energy tune that is essentially hard rock with some "gunka gunka" punk-ish guitar jabs here and there. A metal guitar solo that starts at the 2:30 mark, though, does not appeal to me nor does the last 20 seconds of the song where they drift again into metal territory with their "outro". But overall not a bad song.
Dont Be Tame.mp3 *
Another Kind of Man.mp3
* My above rip of "Don't Be Tame" is unfortunately missing the first few seconds of the song and cuts off at the end so if you have a full-length, high quality rip of this tune please let me know!