Saturday, October 29, 2011

Living Links - Every Sad Night

A. Every Sad Night

B1. You And The Unknown

B2. I Stop Short

LIVING LINKS (Baton Rouge)
Every Sad Night EP
Skratch (SK-002), 1983

In January of 1978, the Sex Pistols played in Baton Rouge on their highly-publicized (career ending) US tour. The show resulted in a music explosion where the next day everyone started putting bands together, writing original music, and booking gigs wherever people would let them play. Amongst these upstart groups were the US Times with Hans Van Brackle and his wife’s all-girl band, the ParalElles.

Hans and Margie eventually started writing songs together on the side. Margie, who had a background in opera, musical theater, and classical religious music, would write the lyrics and they’d collaborate on the music and arrangements. With Hans on guitar and Margie on bass, they added a Dr. Rhythm with eight drum patterns so they could play live as Living Links. They briefly played with a live drummer and on occasion combined the drum computer with the human drummer, but they typically stayed active as a duo.

Living Links played fairly regularly for a few years, often headlining shows or opening for regional touring acts. They even managed to take stage at the 1984 New Orleans World Fair!

Their first trip to a recording studio was in 1983 where they laid down the three songs for the EP featured here. Having the ability to go crazy with overdubs, they added keyboards and extra percussion to their songs. The 7” was released to good reviews and the song “You And The Unknown” even topped the charts on one of the alternative stations all the way up in Toronto!

They followed that up shortly after with a single featuring “I’m Not Streetwise” and “Manger.” The record received moderate local airplay which compelled them to put together a full length LP. 1985's Gathering The Forces, which contains several songs with military and war themes fared well. They were even approached to make a video for the title track, but alas, the project fell apart.

By the mid 80s, the Baton Rouge scene started to dry up. With decreasing venues to play at and a lack of sustainable energy and interest, the band eventually faded away. Hans and Margie have continued playing music to this day, though they have not recorded anything together since Living Links.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shane Champagne Band - Stepped On

A. Stepped On

B. Love My Baby Like A Car

Stepped On b/w Love My Baby Like A Car
Pure And Easy (PE-010), 1979

Gary Shane and David Champagne met in New York after they both moved there from Massachusetts in the early 70s due to their parents new jobs. Both in their early teens, they started playing together as a folk-inspried duo covering Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, Steven Stills, etc. They originally called themselves the Gary Shane and Dick Champagne Revue. After finding a bass player named Chip Dundee who was into the same sort of music as them, they all moved up to Plum Island and went on a song writing binge.

Jimmy Williams was their first drummer. Though he was a funny guy with a handlebar mustache who could sing the covers they still had in their set, he didn't last long in the band. Next they had "Rockin" Billy Wells in the drummers seat, but he quit after having to get a full time job to pay for his new car. Finally they enticed Ricky "Rocket" Rothchild to quit the cover band he was playing in and join the Shane Champagne Band where they would work on originals.

"Stepped On" was the first release for the band. The single was put out on the local Pure & Easy label and the catchy, pop-driven song became a marginal hit on the radio. The B-Side, "Love My Baby Like A Car, " which was a bit more of a straight forward punker, drawing to mind anything from Lou Reed to Jonathan Richman. The song became a staple in their live set and the record caused a bit of a stir, hinting towards success.

They followed that up with a six-song 10" EP which featured their biggest hit, "Shadow World," a song written in the same vein as Elvis Costello's "Watching The Detectives." It received major airplay and skyrocketed their notoriety, which secured them gigs. But alas, the major labels never came calling. Also noteworthy on that record are the songs "Hold On To The Mystery" and "Lonely Next To You," which will appeal to power pop lovers.

After that, they gave it one more shot with their next single, "You're Leaving," which was written in the same style as "Shadow World" in an attempt to duplicate its success. Unfortunately the song went nowhere and the members started going their separate ways.

Ricky became a very desirable drummer, touring with Willie Loco and playing with Wayne Kramer amongst many others. Gary went on to form Gary Shane and Detour, followed by Alan Ladd & The Abashed, The Silvertones, and other groups. While they became popular, none of his bands ever got signed.

David met Mark Sandman and they started Treat Her Right, who quickly got a record deal. Eventually Mark left that band to form Morphine and David had a band with his wife called Hey Goods.

Recently, the old line-up of David, Gary, Chip and Billy reunited to play a couple old Shane Champagne songs at a benefit for Japan following the tsunami. All in all, 15 bands including Robin Lane & the Chartbusters, Willie Loco, the Fools and others raised a substantial amount of money for the cause.