U.S. MODS “I’M GONE / GOVERNMENT” 7″ (MESQUITE, TX- TREBLEPHONE, 1980)
Not only does the music have a great, homemade sound to it but the picture sleeve does too! I’ll take a sleeve like this anyday over some shallow-looking, computer-generated one Chachi.
In continuing with the mellower mood, here are some great DIY-ish sounds from Texas. The Lone Star State has churned out so many great, unique records since time began and here’s another cool one. This 7″ is a rather rare and obscure disc (only 200 copies) and now goes for hundreds on eBay. B.C. taped this for me years ago, and it immediately grabbed me as a winner back then with an “outside the box” sound that makes it stand out against a stack of rekkids. The 7″ sounds way more 60’s than 70’s punk, and both songs are catchy (especially the A-side, my favorite track). What makes it really charming to me is that thin, lo-fi production. I’ll take thin 2-4 track production on homemade records any day over yer “professional” sounding crap from a 48 track studio ANYDAY- the cheaper-done stuff just has so much more depth, character, spontaneity and charm, me thinks.
This 7″ plays nicely against other DIY-ish discs with nice, thin, minimal sound like the Inclusions 7″ that I posted last summer. The U.S. Mods actually have a nice MySpace page with lots of old rare photos and info about this short-lived band from Mesquite, Texas (as well as some recently-done videos for both sides of the single). Er, that city name combined with the fact that it’s in Texas drew up images for me of a total hick town with tumbleweed rolling down the street and a toothless old man sleeping on a lawn chair in front of the only gas station in town. But it turns out that Mesquite is just East of Dallas (about 10 miles) and looks rather civilized (and suburban)- check out the town’s website.
HERE IS A PHOTO OF THE BAND RECORDING THE 7″ THAT I FOUND ON THEIR MY SPACE PAGE. Dig those flares on the guy in the middle, Jimmy Holcomb, guitar player and vocalist on “I’m Gone”! Here is what the band had to say about the high-tech recording session: “In true garage band fashion, it was recorded in a 4-track studio set up in a mini-warehouse somewhere off of Skillman and Audelia, and the vocals—and tape echo— on “I’m Gone” were redone at home in Mesquite on an Akai 4000DS MKII reel-to-reel, and mixed into glorious mono. [This is before ProTools, mind you—MANY patch cords were involved].” According to lore, the single’s producer, Ace Bowen, later went on engineer some fucking Culture Club records- yikes!!! I have always been suspicious of guys nicknamed “Ace” and here is one example of why I should be.
This was the only single the band recorded during their short existence. The band was essentially a trio of Adrian Booker, Jimmy Holcomb and Pat McKenna- they became a foursome when they borrowed drummer Reagan Eskridge from the VVV band Quad Pi for the recording session for the single. The band’s MySpace page has a stream of an unreleased song called “Reaction” when it was played on George Gimarc’s “Rock n’ Roll Alternative” show on KZEW in 1981. [As a sidenote, you may remember Mr. Gimarc as the man who wrote the rather comprehensive and exhaustive “Punk Diary 1970-1979” and “Post-Punk Diary 1980-1982” books way back when. Incidentally, both of those books were re-released in 2005 as just “Punk Diary 1970-1982”– you can actually browse the whole damn book on Google Books for free]. Speaking of books, almost 30 years later, a glowing 1980 review of the U.S. Mods single appeared in the unreleased, supposed-to-be-final-issue #22 of Bomp! magazine that finally appeared in the 2007 book “Bomp! Saving The World One Record At A Time”. Adrian Booker, former U.S. Mod-er, actually has a blog on which he printed the review here. And according to Adrian, Bomp! bought 30 copies of their single back when it was released- Greg Shaw musta liked it eh.
Oh yeah- the unreleased song “Reaction” is pretty good, and in the same vein as the single, but my favorite track is still the A-side of the single, “I’m Gone”. The dreamy mood of the song does it for me and it even has some great handclapping breaks. Handclapping was the hot thing to put in yer song circa 1980, and it got to be overkill with many songs, but on “I’m Gone” it’s a nice compliment.