HAPPY CADAVERS “WITH ILLUSTRATIONS” 4-SONG 7″EP (LOUISVILLE, KY- UNDEFINED, 1982)
[I’m back again! Most people have probably given up on this blog since I keep following my pattern lately of “Post/disappear for two months/post again”. Family life and particularly work life have been too busy lately. The blog is always in the back of my mind, of course, and I have a BIG queue of planned postings. I guess I could just throw up some music files and no text and have a continuous stream of postings but that’s not my style. This blog is a personal labor of love that brings me personal satisfaction, so I do it when I can and how I like.]
Here is a quirky, fun teen punk record- nothing serious here and the lyrics are totally teenage. Nothing over the top, and no raging in-your-face snotty teen rawness- for that type of teen punk, see something like the Neo Punkz EP. I had never heard of this Happy Cadavers disc until Johan Kugelberg included it as #74 in his great list of the Top 100 DIY Records that ran across issues 19 and 20 of the almighty Ugly Things zine back in 2001 and 2002.
Here is what he had to say about it:
“Punk/wave slop from the Midwest? Kind of aims for the Stranglers but hits Small Wonder Records. Charming stuff. Give me a fake English accent any day.”
Oh, that Mr. Kugelberg! The band members included two dudes with the last name Dzenitis- John on (and I quote the back of the picture sleeve) “Bass, Synthesized Percussion” (what a “music industry” term for a drum machine- LOL!) and Paul on drums and “Small Furry Animals”. But the most notable member of the band was then 13 year old David Grubbs on guitar, who went on to 1980’s college rock darlings Squirrel Bait among others. In reading some interviews with him, it sounds like he is totally embarrassed by the Happy Cadavers record and wishes it pretty much didn’t exist- he calls it “a terrible record” and “Teenage new wave…It’s pretty awful“.
But I guess now that he’s a “serious” musician he can no longer appreciate how much FUN this record is. There are no deep statements on it, nothing earth shattering- it’s just a bunch of teenagers having a good time, and this Happy Cadavers EP brings a smile to my face. Stylistically, they are all over the map (just like a teenager, eh)- the first track (my favorite), “Nothing New”, is the punkest one; the second track is poppier and probably the ONLY song in punkdom with lyrics about meeting your girl in the meat section at Kroger’s- this song is musically my least favorite on the EP, but lyrically the most amusing! The third track is the shortest and their stab at hardcore- I’d place this track in that realm of “Fake HC” (now that’d be an interesting post!); and the last track is a slower, bass driven track that is totally hummable and has some dreamy keyboard noodling. There is an awesome guitar growl on “Nothing New” that is interspersed with some subtle keyboards… until, out of nowhere, there is this keyboard solo near the end of the tune. How quirky is that?! Totally off-kilter and hilarious.
Equally as hilarious are the lyrics- check out my favorite line from Nothing New’s chorus:
“Did you read the papers today? Did you see the news? History is being made; oh, what’s the use?”
Or, my other favorite line:
“Things are everywhere- what should I avoid? Don’t ask me, you idiot; I ain’t no Freud”
Great stuff. If a teenager didn’t write lyrics like that, then I don’t know who did! And if you write lyrics like that past your teen years, shame on you! Also adding to the charm of the vocals is the singer’s dead serious, flat, spoken delivery that sounds like he’s reading the lyrics instead of trying to sing them.
The minimalist layout on the sleeve has an amusing, homemade drawing of cadaver feet sticking out of a sheet, even with the foot tag drawn- funny! I love crude, homemade artwork like this.
Henry Yu, the former collector scum scribe at MRR post-Ryan Richardson, had an amusing blog called Cardboard Compulsion where he shows old record mailers he kept from years ago. One of his postings is about the Happy Cadavers EP where he states that guitarist David Grubbs and the band was comprised of “fellow preppies” from one of the day schools in Louisville. Hey, nothing like upper middle class suburban angst, eh!
P.S. If you have a vinyl copy you want to give away, let me know!