Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Delinquents - Alien Beach Party EP

A. Alien Beach Party

B1. Do You Have A Job For A Girl Like Me?

B2. Motivation Complex

Alien Beach Party EP
Live Wire (LW-1), 1979

Brian Curley and Andy Fuertsch learned to play guitar together as young teens living in Albuquerque. They both moved out to Austin, though at different times, and eventually reconnected in 1978. After watching some of the first wave punk bands play at Raul's, they decided to get a band going. With Brian on bass and Andy on guitar, they then got Brian's wife Mindy to play Farfisa organ. An advertisement for a singer brought them Layna Pogue, who was hired after auditioning a Tammy Wynette song in the Raul's parking lot. A short-lived drummer named Willie Alleman had the Delinquents up and running. Their first real show was at Raul's on October 2nd with the Re*Cords.

Tim Loughran eventually took over on drums and recorded three songs with the band in their garage on his TEAC 4-track reel to reel. They released them as the Alien Beach Party 7" on Brian and Mindy's Live Wire label. It is recollected that 500 copies of the single were pressed. They sent it off to a lot of magazines for review and were picked Single Of The Week in NME.

The band was ready to tour after that, however, Layna didn't want to travel. So she stepped down and they enlisted Melissa Cobb on vocals in her place. In May of 1980, the band drove out to tour the east coast. But while on the road, Melissa left the band. Putting out another ad for a lead singer, they landed their third and final front lady, Becky Bickham. Not only could she sing, but she also played guitar.

Following a constantly rotating stream of borrowed drummers, they finally secured Cary Brock, who would stick with them until the end. In early 1981, they released their Self Titled full length LP in a run of 1,000 copies. A release party followed at Inner Sanctum, a popular record store near UT campus.

In the fall of that year, Lester Bangs came to Austin and wanted to put a band together. So he put out a call to musicians to jam with him at Raul's. Starting with a 15 person ensemble, it eventually dwindled down to just Brian and Andy, so Lester decided the Delinquents should become his back-up band.

While Lester only stayed in town for a few months, he and the Delinquents managed to write a batch of new songs and play some gigs, including an opening slot for the Talking Heads at the Armadillo. After a very quick recording session at Earth & Sky Studios, they released the Jook Savages On The Brazos LP on Live Wire.

Lester coined The Delinquents "the band that everyone loved to hate." Whatever the case may have been, the band played their final gig shortly thereafter on 10/16/81. Ultimately, their demise derived from a combination of personality clashes, drugs, and a variety of other factors including the fact it simply wasn't fun anymore. However, many of the former band members have regrouped to perform in the various Raul’s Reunions and Biscuitfest shows over the years.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Haskells - Pop Art

A. Pop Art

B. Magazine Girls

Pop Art b/w Magazine Girls
Spotless (39152), 1981

Kat Osborne started playing rhythm guitar at the age of 14 in her brother’s band, The After Effects. But having been a dancer since the age of three, she loved tap rhythms and was drawn to percussion. So she bought a Rogers 5-piece drum set and taught herself to play. Her first drumming stint was in a British rock cover group called Nasty Habits. When musical tastes began to differ, she wanted to start her own band.

So she placed an ad in a local Houston paper and a bass player named George Reiff was the first to respond. They started auditioning guitar players and soon enlisted John Leaf. They came up with the name the Haskells in reference to Eddie Haskell of the TV show Leave It To Beaver.

John, who was from the UK, started writing originals that had an English flavor to them. During their first few shows, the band even played covers of songs by Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, the Jam, Clash, Elvis Costello and other popular British songwriters. But they wanted to put more emphasis on originals, so George started writing as well.

“Magazine Girls” and “Pop Art" were amongst the first songs they wrote, so they quickly made their way out to Loma Ranch in Fredericksburg to record the two tracks. 500 copies of the 7” were pressed, though very few came with picture sleeve due to the cost of printing. The single was put in all the local record stores and sold well.

They still felt something was missing in their music, so John brought in his friend Andy Feehan on keyboards to add depth to their sound. Andy had previously played with John in Herschel Berry’s band, as well as in the Lords with Ronnie Bond and Kelly Younger (who later went on to form Really Red).

By this time John and George became a solid songwriting duo and the rest of the band would put their own spin on each song, creating music that was unique in Houston. They played with local stalwarts like the Judys and Really Red (who they shared a practice space with in a former mortician’s school). Then they started venturing to Austin about once a month where they’d share the stage with bands like Standing Waves, Rattlecats, Explosives and Joe "King" Carrasco, usually at Club Foot.

About six months after their first recording sessions, they went back in the studio and laid down five more tracks for their Fatter And More Modern EP. Overall the band was displeased with the outcome of the record, mainly due to the lack of a producer. They printed 500 copies, but again couldn’t come up with the money for the album art, so generic rubber-stamped sleeves housed the 12” records.

Slash Records took interest in the band at one point, but nothing came to fruition. Then in 1983 George ended up going out to England and playing with the Jags for a short stint before coming back to Texas and playing with the Rattlecats and then Joe "King" Carrasco. During this time, the Haskells tried out another bass player, but Kat and John were no longer having fun and decided to call it quits.

"Pop Art" was bootlegged on a volume of Powerpearls and for mysterious reasons pitched way down, taking a lot of the charm out of the song. The song was given proper representation on 2013's Texas power pop compilation album, Radio Ready that was released on Cheap Rewards Records

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nervebreakers - Hijack The Radio

Hijack The Radio b/w Why Am I So Flipped
Wild Child (WC 1003), 1979

A. Hijack The Radio

B. Why Am I So Flipped?

Inspired by the sound of the Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, and other staples of the time, Mike Haskins started playing guitar in the mid-60s. He formed several short lived garage bands and then on one fateful day during a performance, his drummer walked off stage and Barry Kooda jump behind the kit in his place. The two continued on in various groups after that until the Army shipped Barry off to Korea in '71.

Around this time, Thom "Tex" Edwards was starting his first bands. All the while, Haskins sauntered on, playing a myriad of different styles in numerous groups. By the summer of '72, drummer Carl Giesecke hooked up with Haskins and they played in a series of bands together before finally connecting with Tex in a new project called Diamonds Forever. Picking up gigs wherever they could get 'em (YMCA's, VFW halls, church-sponsored dances, skating rinks, etc), the band didn't fit into any mold and were outside the confines of mainstream rock.

By early 1975, a new group evolved consisting of Carl, Mike, Tex, Pierre Thompson and Walter Ray Brock. They called it Mr. Nervous Breakdown and they were heavily laced in the style of the Kinks and Troggs. Brock, who played the Farfisa, left soon after the formation. Then Barry, now back from his stint in the Army, came in on guitar. During a night of brainstorming, Mike and Tex came up with the name Nervebreakers as a take on the Troggs lyric "You got me so that my nerves are breaking," as well as a response to John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers.

They had a joke about having played every club in town once, mainly cuz it wouldn't go over too well and most places wouldn't ask them back. But they continued to tread on and eventually developed their own crowd. A big catalyst for that was getting to open up for the Ramones when they played the Electric Ballroom in mid-77, and then six months later they got the opening slot for the Sex Pistols at the Longhorn Ballroom during their landmark US tour. Both of those gigs were secured by a new bass player named Clarke Blacker who had taken over for Pierre after he departed due frustration with the band not achieving greater success. Following the Pistols gig, Clarke decided to leave the band and take on more managerial duties and in stepped Bob Childress.

Bands like Dot Vaeth Group, Vomit Pigs, Infants, Bobby Soxx, Skuds and others started coming together and building a scene. Meanwhile, The Nervebreakers started gearing their sound in a more punk direction, though they still had more of a polished style than most of the newcomers since they had been playing together for so much longer.

In March 1978, a guy named Tom Ordon came out to see the band play at what was billed as their farewell gig. He instantly took to them and came on board as their new manager, eventually releasing three Nervebreakers 7"s on his newly christened Wild Child label. The first record, the "Politics" EP, came out that July. It contains four tracks including "My Girlfriend Is A Rock," a comedic tale of love with an inanimate object that later appeared on Bloodstains Across Texas.

1979 was an eventful year for the Nervebreakers. They released their second 7", "Hijack The Radio" b/w "Why Am I So Flipped?" Both this record and their previous one received some airplay on the west coast as well as in Boston and other markets with college stations. So Ordon booked the Nervebreakers a tour out to the west coast that September where they played up and down California. Then in October, they received great exposure opening up for the Clash at the Palladium in Dallas, a venue at which they had previously opened up for the Police.

Also that year, ESR (Electric Slum Records), which was a studio and label run by Bryce Parker, released a collection of songs from Dallas-area bands that recorded in his studio. The Are We Too Late For The Trend compilation LP features songs by bands like the Vomit Pigs, Superman's Girlfriend, The Infants, Telefones, and more. The Nervebreakers recorded three songs at ESR and since each band was only allotted one song for the album, their contribution was "I Love Your Neurosis," while their song "So Sorry" was snuck on by crediting it to the Barry Kooda Combo.

In May of 1980, the Nervebreakers recorded an entire album, which took quite a toll on some of the members. Bob and Mike left the band, then reinforcements were brought in so they could play their planned northeast tour which took them through Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. The album sat on the shelf and then at the end of the year the band won studio time from a battle of the bands competition.

In March of 1981 they used that studio time to record the songs "Girls Girls Girls Girls Girls" and "I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys," which were released as a single that May. But by that time Barry had decided to move on as well and the band officially broke up. The records, which never fully got distributed, were pressed on blue vinyl and never had a picture sleeve. They were simply housed in a clear plastic sleeve to show the vinyl color. Much of the pressing had stayed in one place until they recently started surfacing. Unfortunately almost all copies have a slight storage warp and the plastic casing proved not prudent for long term storage as it developed a film on the vinyl.

The Nervebreakers LP, titled We Want Everything, finally saw the light of day in 1994 when Existential Vacuum officially released it. Get Hip has now re-released the first two Nervebreakers 7"s and will be releasing the third one with a newly designed picture sleeve soon. They also have planned to release a series of unheard demos and other material including a remastered version of We Want Everything, and an album of newly recorded material.