Tag Archive for '1983'

Athens, GA-related megapost!

I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina for the next few days, running my first marathon dsc_0005.jpg(wish me luck!), so I won’t be posting frequently again until the end of next week. So, please enjoy this hastily assembled, under contextualized early-80s Athens, Georgia megapost… more to come next week when I’m back in NYC.

Two tracks from the all-hits Squares Blot Out The Sun compilation of odds and ends on DB records, the label that really drove the Athens scene.

Pylon, “Party Zone (live in 1983)” from the Squares Blot Out The Sun LP on DB Records (released 1989)

Jack Heard, “Burnin’ Love (1982)” from the Squares Blot Out The Sun LP on DB Records (released 1989)

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I played this Side Effects track out at a bar in Brooklyn in 2001, and someone came up to me afterwards dying to chat. We spoke for a while about the band and the great music that came from that scene, which he’d come up in. When he was heading out of the bar much later, he stopped by again, introduced his wife, shook my hand. It felt a little strange, and when I looked down at my hand as he turned away, I realized he’d pushed into my palm the damp remains of the joint he and his wife has covertly smoked in the bar. Gross! That was the day I started lobbying for an enclosed DJ booth.

Once again, I realized the Side Effects are also on Myspace, after years of radio silence. Grab versions of their tracks (which sound a little better than this file there).

The Side Effects, “Pyramids” from the Side Effects EP on DB Records (1981)
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Love Tractor was one of the most prolific bands from this scene, with lots of great mostly instrumental songs. This cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” makes the case that they could have easily had way more great vocal tracks. It comes from a Bigtime records compilation, but also appeared as the bside to one of their later singles. More on Myspace, of course (including a great loungey cover of “See Emily Play”). Pat Irwin, of the Raybeats, produced this track.

Love Tractor, “Got To Give It Up” from the Bigtime Syndrome compilation LP on Bigtime Records (1987)

method.jpgThe Method Actors made a lot of noise for just two guys. Like Pylon, they bring a bit of the UK sound you hear in the dancey songs of Gang of Four, the Pop Group, and the Au Pairs.

This album is particularly mind blowing because of the tiny little details and dynamic shifts that show up in many of the songs. Plus, I love the vocals and the near-droney reverb.

The Method Actors, “Bleeding” from the Little Figures LP on Press Records (1981)

shake.jpgAny B52′s fan should track down the Fred Schneider & the Shake Society album from 1984. Apart from a few uncomfortable guitar solos, it is pure party music. Fred is in the foreground all the time, and busts out some amazing lines. Those of you who know me will understand why I had to post this particular track. “Cut the Concrete” was what I was planning to post, but when I listened to “Boonga!” again, I knew what I had to do.  Maybe I’ll post the other one in the comments next week. Bernie Worrell produced this with Fred! Don’t skip the intro on his site either.

Fred Schneider & the Shake Society,”Boonga! (the New Jersey Caveman)” from the self-titled LP on Warner Bros. (1984).

Fred Schneider & the Shake Society,”Cut the Concrete” from the self-titled LP on Warner Bros. (1984). 

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Though Mitch Easter lived and recorded in North Carolina, there were few more influential folks as far as this music is concerned. He played in the Sneakers with fellow North Carolinian future dBs member Chris Stamey, recorded R.E.M.’s “Radio Free Europe,” and put out a bunch of albums in Let’s Active.

Mitch Easter, “Law of Averages,” from the Shake to Date compilation LP on Shake Records (1979)

Chris Stamey,”Get a Job” from the It’s A Wonderful Life LP on DB Records (1982)

While this isn’t Athens Music per se, the aesthetics of the music and the relationships involved have me placing them in this post. Most importantly, you will probably have the chance to see one or both of these guys perform live. The dBs are playing in NYC this weekend!

Things to buy: DFA’s re-release of Pylon’s Gyrate, B52s new album out on Astralwerks soon!, Let’s Active’s Cypress/Afoot double CD, dBs Stands for Decibles/Repercussions CD Mitch Easter’s newest album.

“Digital Tenderness,” by Adam and the Ants

f59444lbxju.jpgUnfortunately scratchy recording of the best song on Dirk Wears White Socks.

Adam & the Ants, “Digital Tenderness,” from the Dirk Wears White Socks LP (1983)

Show me an Adam Ant album, and I’ll show you at least one masterpiece song. Dirk? This jam, or maybe “Car Trouble”. Friend or Foe? “Antmusic.” Prince Charming? “Mowhok.” Manners & Physique? “Room at the top.” See?

Unplug the jukebox and do us all a favor: Antmusic, for your viewing pleasure;
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“We Don’t Need No Carpet Baggers,” by C.U.B.S.

cubs1.jpgThis has to be one of my favorite songs, and it always gets people looking around. I bought this disc from Vinyl Ink before its beloved owner George passed away in 2002. I always made the trip out to Silver Spring when I was in the DC area, and when I moved up to NYC, I was a constant mailorder customer of the store.

I wish I still had the little description sticker he so thoughtfully put on every disc– I’m sure it was full of adjectives and namechecked A Certain Ration or PiL. Anyway, this is another group about which I know next to nothing. Mutant Noise recently posted one of their singles, but details seem to be few and far between. Any details would be appreciated. This track, the opener, is my favorite one on the album, but all are worth a studied listen. I’ll post more Music+Noise releases soon.

C.U.B.S., “We Don’t Need No Carpet Baggers,” from the Maroi Bwana Oi LP on Music+Noise (1983)

“The Big Country,” by the Raybeats

raybeats.jpgI put the Raybeats up there with the Fleshtones in terms of solid, high-energy acts from the early 80s that never really got their due. This track is from the Raybeats’ follow-up to the legendary Guitar Beat (which was re-released on a now hard-to-find CD in 97). “The Big Country” is a standout on It’s Only A Movie due to its more abstract, filmic approach– the rest of the tracks, in line with most of the Raybeats material is much more R&B/Surf-guitar oriented and up-tempo.

The band itself is comprised of some very important musicians who were highly influential, but seem to have flown mostly under the radar when it comes to their actual names. Jody Harris, one of the guitarmen in the group, teamed up with the late Robert Quine to record under their own names (more on that later), and also played with the Contortions, and eventually the Golden Palominos. Pat Irwin, also in the Contortions, has links to John Cage and William Burroughs, and eventually did some production for Love Tractor and ended up in the B52s. Check out more band history on their embryonic site.

The Raybeats, “The Big Country,” from the It’s Only a Movie LP on Shanachie (1983)

What I find remarkable about this track is that it sounds like it could have appeared on some of the late 90s Tortoise-crew records. This song actually comes to mind when I think of Tortoise’s TNT, and I can’t force myself to remember a note of music that actually appears on that.

Guitar Beat is a much more solid album, more in the party vibe than It’s Only A Movie. You should pick it up both if you see them. They’re strangely expensive online, but seem to pop up all the time in dollar bins.

Here’s a video of “Jack the Ripper,” also from It’s Only A Movie

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