Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Reactions - Official Release EP

A1. Tonight

A2. Marianne

B1. In Society

B2. It's Our Turn Now

Official Release EP
Reaction Records, 1980

Isaac Baruch started the Reactions as a five-piece with neighborhood friends Tony Supa on vocals, Liz Rothfield on guitar, Jeffrey Pollock on bass, and John Morrow on drums. Isaac played guitar and wrote the music and melodies to the lyrics Tony would bring him. After a while of jamming together and learning to play their instruments (and with a couple shows under their belt playing mostly Cheap Trick and Dave Clark Five covers), Tony felt they could do better. So they went about finding more accomplished musicians.

A short-lived drummer came into the mix for just one gig before they hit it off with Joey Maya. He had seen them play and wanted to join the band. They still needed a bass player though, so they went out to see other bands perform to try and recruit. Johnny Salton was a guitar player in a band called The Girls. After seeing him perform a show at the Blue Waters Hotel, one of the few places in Miami that hosted bands playing original music, they approached Johnny and asked if he would be interested in playing bass with them. Salton, a seasoned guitar player who was older and much more experienced was looking for a new project and agreed.

The newly formed four-piece instantly clicked and practiced constantly. Tony and Isaac would get together at Isaac's mothers house for a couple hours each day to go over new material and song structure before the others joined for a full practice. A new song was written every day. Some of them stuck, others were immediately tossed if they weren't working. With full support from their families and no jobs or other obligations, they had the time to apply themselves and studied other musicians to try to be as good as possible. They aspired to be like the Ramones: get a contract, write good songs, put out records, tour and be famous. They had the ability and the songs but never got their break.

With help of their friend Errol Waltzer, the band released their first EP in 1980, entitled "Official Release." Errol, who was a photographer, financed the 1,000 copies that were pressed and did the artwork for the 7". The band cut and pasted the covers and stuffed all the records themselves, but sold few copies of the record. They viewed the release as a calling card to shop around to major labels and ended up giving most copies away or dropping them off in stores. Isaac went to New York that summer and dropped off a bunch in shops up there as well.

The South Florida scene, which was now boasting such legendary talent as The Eat, The Essentials, Cichlids, Charlie Pickett, The Front, and many others, was still small in size compared to larger cities. When the Ramones would come to town, a flurry of people would come to see them, but a typical local show would usually only generate 50-100 people.

By the time the band had recorded their second EP, "Love You," Tony had stated that he would soon be leaving the group. Salton was already playing with Charlie Pickett & The Eggs, and Isaac didn't see himself finding a suitable songwriting partner as Tony had proved to be. So they only played a couple shows after the record came out before calling it quits. The "Love You" EP was self-financed using money they earned from gigs in a run of just 500 copies. However, it is reported by the band that four boxes, which may have contained as many as 400 copies of the record, were tossed in a dumpster in the mid 90s, making originals very difficult to locate. The record shows how the band greatly matured in a short time and it's a shame further material was not properly recorded and this project never went any further.

Isaac, who had not been a lyricist in the Reactions, took to writing and formed a band called U.S. Furys with Ricky Mahler, who later went on to play in Circus Of Power. They didn't record anything, but when Isaac later restructured and recorded some of those songs in a band with other notable local musicians called Eden's Rebels.

Johnny played with Charlie Pickett for a long time and eventually started the Psycho Daisies, who he performed with until he died earlier this week. You can read more about Salton on the Trash Fever site.

Joey later played with Roach Moel and Sheer Smegma before joining a rockabilly revival group called the Spinouts. He later moved to California to tour with the Battalion Of Saints. Tony got married and went to work for his family.

There are several appearances of Reactions songs on other formats. "In Society" was comped on Killed By Florida. "Tonight" made its way onto Back Seat Love Vol. 2. The South Florida band Screaming Sneakers (who featured Gary Sunshine, later of Circus Of Power) covered the Reactions song "I Can't Help It" on their lone 12", Marching Orders. A short-run bootleg 10" entitled Love You (with the same cover art as the EP of the same name) features all the songs from both 7"s. An official collection of rare and unheard Reactions material is slated for release at the end of 2011 on Cheap Rewards Records.

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