MEL “BLOCK ROCK WALK / MODEST LIVING” 7″ 1982 (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA- A RECORD CO., 1983)
Added a much better scan of the back of the sleeve. I acquired some additional scans of the cool foldout sleeve, including the front and the inside of the sleeve which has lyrics to both songs and some trippy artwork. Also included a scan of the stickers that originally came with the record. Nice packaging, eh.
Trip out on the front of the sleeve
It’s nice to have a better scan of the cool-looking back of the sleeve
The inside of the foldout sleeve has lyrics to the A-side on the right of it, and lyrics
to the B-side of the left. You juxtaposers, you!
Finally, the entire sleeve foldouts to this trippy poster. They don’t call it a foldout
for nothin! I like how the band name is printed all teeny-tiny in the middle.
And here are the two stickers that came with the record. I wonder how many copies floating
around out there 30 years on still have these in em.
Information about The Mel has surfaced! A few days ago I had a back and forth comments dialogue early one morning with a guy named Rik, who provided some info about the previously mysterious Mel. He appears to have been a former member although he never confirmed this in his comments. According to Rik, The Mel were from the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles county. [By the way, the San Gabriel Valley is East of L.A.and includes suburbs like Pasadena, Covina, Alhambra and about 20 others].
The band might have only released that one 7″ in 1983 and you’d think that means they were a short-lived outfit, but the band was actually around for 10(!) years and played out between 1976 and 1986 according to Rik. The label for the 7″- simply named “A Record Company”- was based in Hollywood and the disc came with a poster sleeve AND stickers. Rik said that 250 (?!) copies of the 7″ made it to Europe ‘cuz that’s how many their label’s “European Distributor” ordered at the time (sounds very official). The 7″ sessions also produced two other unreleased songs, “Rainy Day People” and “Realize”- according to Rik, an idea was thrown around to release a 4-song EP or a double EP with these two other tunes on it but it never happened unfortunately. Also sitting around unreleased are music videos, many hours or live gig recordings, rehearsals and studio outtakes says he. I’d love to hear some of this unreleased stuff one day, as I’m sure other fans of The Mel 7″ would too eh.
Thanks again, Rik, for providing all of the above info- you’ve helped shed some light on a previously unknown outfit! People like myself who wonder about details like these feel better now.
I don’t know squat about this band so this will be a relatively short posting. A Google search of this Mel 7″ turns up nothing other than its inclusion in the Volume 3 discography on the Collector Scum page. Alternatively, typing “Modest Living Mel” into Google turns up shit about former Spice Girl Mel B living a modest life for some motherfucking reality show- doh! No one cares about that garbage when you’re trying to find info about an unknown KBD-type band, ya hear. The problem is that the band name “The Mel” is such a plain-ass, flat, one-syllable name that it would never stand out and just gets lost in the shuffle on the information superhighway. A unique band name like Kriminella Gitarrer will get you some sure fire, juicy results in Google but Mel doesn’t turn up squat. Perhaps the band had some special reason for naming their band Mel (?).
What I do know about this quirky, offbeat 7″ is that I like both sides of it, especially the B-side, “Modest Living”. I have been digging that tune for about ten years now, ever since I first heard it on the great Killed By 7 Inch #9 comp EP from late 1999/early 2000- thanks to **** for compiling and releasing that series (you know who you are!). [Speaking of the Killed By 7 Inch series, I dug most of the 10 volumes and thought it was a cool concept to include just 4-5 songs instead of an LP with a slew of tunes to wade through. A 7″ comp with just 4-5 songs kind of trimmed the fat, if you will, of mediocre stuff that was inevitably on a more expensive, full-length comp LP. And the series introduced me to a lot of obscure tunes that I had never heard before, like Mel. Also a plus is that most of the volumes had nice, thick, manly vinyl (and not that flimsy shit that you always fear will warp unless you store it in a perfectly vertical position). And it was kinda fun that most volumes only had 300-400 copies pressed which kept me on my toes to find one before they all vanished.]
On “Modest Living” there is some great meat n’ potatoes guitar that grabs me from the get go and the singer sounds kinda like Lee Ving of Fear at times, especially when he gets all riled up. Add to that very hummable lyrics that, thankfully, do not make it TOO melodic ‘cuz “Whoo, Oooo Oooo Oooo” choruses usually turn me off. It’s that mixture of “driving and melodic” that was really in the air in early 80’s Southern California (the home of Mel). But what I REALLY like about Modest Living are the two breaks during which they switch things up and create a freakout of sorts- there’s a cool interplay between the echo-y, bouncy guitar and some frantic, kinda sloppy drumming on what sounds like a kids’ Fischer Price drum set. Quirky! My only complaint is like the last 20 seconds of the song which are kinda weak and during which they almost lose me- the singer and others keep repeating one line over and over and it gets slightly annoying.
While Modest Living is my favorite track, the A-side keeps growing on me now that I’ve finally heard it after all these years (many thanks to John for hooking me up with it!). Some might dismiss it as the dreaded “other track” but I likes it- it has an offbeat nature to it, not as wild as “Modest Living”, but catchy. The drumming at points reminds me of the same style of high-hat playing found on the Effigies’ Security. But don’t take that to mean that the ENTIRE song reminds me of The Effigies- no, just certain drum snippets (I don’t want to start any fights here amongst Effigies fans). The catchy chorus and breaks have nice guitar noodling and this weird sped-up voice on it that I find myself singing along to for some reason.
If you know anything about Mel (or have a spare copy for me), post some comments already.