Thursday, May 26, 2011

Amatones - Plastic Surgeon

A. Plastic Surgeon

Party Favors (from Boys Of The Universe tape)

Right To Be (from Boys Of The Universe tape)

Plastic Surgeon b/w Atomic Gears In Motion
Urban Doughboy, 1983

The Amatones formed in Amarillo in 1980 in response to the lack of new wave bands in the area. The five-piece group, which had two vocalists (Mark Jones and John Jacobs), quickly built a steady regional following and earned their way onto gigs opening for the likes of Bow Wow Wow, Joe "King" Carrasco, and others.

They went to the Audio Refinery in 1982 to lay down two tracks for a single which was released early the next year on their own Urban Doughboy Records. They received praise locally and the record sold very well which prompted another recording session. A six song cassette titled Boys Of The Universe was released the following year on Urban Doughboy. They intended it to have a vinyl release as well, though it never did materialize.

After about five years playing together, the band had a repertoire of about 60 songs, though very few of them ever got recorded. Mark Jones, along with guitarist Mark Sorrels, bassist Paul Baker (aka Paul Reagan), and drummer Phil Marquis then morphed into New Congress, a band that released an LP and a couple cassettes. Then around 1989, the four changed monikers once again to the Blue Johnnies, their most successful act, producing 3 CDs. All in all, they spent about 20 years playing together.

"Plastic Surgeon" was featured on 2013's Texas power pop compilation album, Radio Ready that was released on Cheap Rewards Records. "Party Favors" from their long lost cassette, which can be heard above, will make its vinyl debit on the second volume of the Texas power pop series.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

D-Day - Too Young To Date


A. Too Young To Date

B. Every Time I Ask You Out

Right To Know (From their second 7")

D-DAY (Austin, TX)
Too Young To Date b/w Every Time I Ask You Out
Moment, 1979

De Lewellen had first started singing in bands while attending college in Missouri. When she moved to Austin, she joined the original vaudeville troupe at Esther's Follies. By 1979, she noticed the burgeoning Raul's punk scene and wanted to get involved.

Having become friends with David Fore through her time at Esther's, she asked if he would be interested in starting an alternative band, to which he happily obliged. David had previously played drums in iconic TX psychedelic band, Bubble Puppy. He lined up Stuart Hillyer on guitar and a bassist named John Keller.

They started jamming together and the songs immediately poured out. They played their first gig at Esther's before graduating to Raul's and other more appropriate spots. They'd often venture out to Dallas, Ft. Worth and Houston as well.

They agreed to let a fan named Anne Goetzmann become their manager. She, along with a wealthy lady from Houston named Alisa O'Leary started a label called Moment Productions. Their first release was D-Day's "Too Young To Date" single (later releases on the label include the Big Boys, Standing Waves, etc). The partners went out to Los Angeles to promote D-Day and their new record. Stopping at KROQ, they convinced Rodney Bingenheimer to play the song on the air. Shortly thereafter, it hit number 1.

College stations started to pick it up as well, but before long, mothers started picketing the stations, trying to get the song banned because of the lyric, "He just wants to pop my cherry." The song received airplay in Austin as well, on the local KLBJ. In fact, Lady Bird Johnson was listening one time and called the station demanding they never play the song again. Eventually they went in the studio to record over the one line to make it more suitable for radio, though the censored version was never released as a single.

The band gained even more notoriety when an article was written in Penthouse Magazine about the fiasco. So they went out to LA to take advantage of the situation and got to open for the Go-Go's at the Whisky. Continuous west coast touring prevailed as a second single, "Right To Know," became a hit on KROQ as well. By this time Stuart had left the band and was first replaced by keyboardist Glover Gill, followed by Will Fiveash on guitar.

The band was very well received on their road shows and earned slots opening for the Vapors, Nick Lowe, Romeovoid, Psychedelic Furs, Talking heads, English Beat and others. While playing in Los Angeles, an A&M rep saw their set and signed them soon after.

The producer they wanted was booked up, so the band was flown out England to work with Bob Sargeant. He listened to them rehearse and didn't like their "hooligan music," so he pushed them in a much more pop direction. They spent three months in Europe recording the album, but by the time the record came out, they didn't have a management company behind them and they ultimately slipped through the cracks. By early 1984, the band broke up as De and Glover were very unhappy with the new direction and quit.

D-Day could be heard on the Texas compilation "Tales From The Edge" as well as Rhino's "New Wave Hits Of The 80's."

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Take - Tonight

A. Tonight

B. Four Dollar Date

THE TAKE (Austin, TX)
Tonight b/w Four Dollar Date
Take (0023), 1982

Growing up in Ft Worth, Greg Thelen started playing guitar in sixth grade after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Taking only a few lessons, he quickly realized he had a knack for picking things up and started his first band called Apartment 5D with some neighborhood friends. They won a talent show and played school functions, but things eventually fizzled after a couple years.

Greg later moved to Austin to attend school at UT, studying sociology and psychology. He joined a prog rock band called Stranger who started playing the then-scarce Austin club circuit including the newly turned punk hot spot, Raul's. By 1981, he decided to take the music in a more new wave direction, so he made a demo recording of some new material he'd written to shop around. After posting an ad at Strait Music that he was looking for a singer and other musicians, he quickly recruited Clark Sykes on bass, David Weaver on drums and Robert Rasberry on lead vocals. Greg and David would provide the back-up vocals.

The Take primarily played at Club Foot thanks to the fact that Robert worked there running spot lights for touring bands. They'd occasionally venture out of town for gigs in Waco, Dallas and Houston as well. After about a year they decided to record two songs for a single. At the time, they shared a rehearsal space with a reggae band called Pressure. The room was an old concrete fur vault (appropriately coined The Vault) and that's where they recorded "Tonight" and "Four Dollar Date." The two songs became the band's sole output. 500 copies of the single were pressed but only around half of them were housed in self-made, foldover sleeves.

David started having health problems and had to leave the band. He was replaced by Kevin Pearson. Around the same time Clark was tired and also left the band, being replaced by Frank Raymond III. The band continued on for just a short while longer.

Another thing of note is that the band made a music video for the song "Four Dollar Date" but the one known copy of the tape has since been misplaced. Also, the Take single made the number three pick in the 1982 Austin Chronicle Music Poll.

"Tonight" was featured on 2013's Texas power pop compilation album, Radio Ready that was released on Cheap Rewards Records