Monday, April 29

Blog Update - more dB's and Letch Actively coming!

Dear blog followers,

To quote my teenage daughter, I'm "super pumped" to report I am now the proud recipient of a new shed load of tapes from dB's Fan — and it's chock full of rare shows by our dB's, Letch Actively, and related artists.

First show of the lot is coming this Friday, so make your usual trek over here in a few days.

How can we express our thanks to dB's Fan? Leave a comment for him here!

Musically yours,


Friday, April 26

The dB's Made My Record Store Day (+ Mini Review)

OK, I'll admit this up front: there were a few bands of note other than The dB’s to have worthwhile releases on Record Store Day this year.

There was R.E.M.’s Live in Greensboro EP, which is pretty dang nifty (five live tracks that didn’t make it onto the bonus disc that will accompany next month’s 25th anniversary release of Green). And, my pick for “Next Best Reason to Get Up Early for Record Store Day This Year (Other Than for The dB’s Release, Of Course!)”: Big Star’s Nothing Can Hurt Me soundtrack (2 LP’s of previously-unreleased Big Star alt. takes, alt. mixes, demos, etc. — worth the considerable price tag, if you’re a hardcore Big Star fan like me).

Beyond these and perhaps a few others, there was one overriding, overwhelming reason to get up at the ungodly hour (for a Saturday) of 6:00 a.m., grab my coffee and breakfast, then drive 1 hour and 20 mins. out of town so I could be one of the first music geeks in line before the record store I chose opened its doors at 8:00 a.m. That overriding reason was the joy awaiting dB's fans like me who wanted the limited edition, orange-colored, 4-track, 12-inch vinyl Revolution of the Mind EP. Only 2,000 had been pressed, and I planned to be one of the fortunate souls to walk out the door with one on April 20!

After a beautiful early-morning drive through rural Carolina, I found the store, parked my car, and waited in line for about 20 minutes, chatting with a young, enthusiastic collector of vinyl (his band had one of its first live gigs the previous night). Then, we were warmly welcomed into this particular den of musical pleasure, with just one gentle caution to “be nice to each other, please”. It didn’t take more than a few minutes of scouting before I found the stack of white pasteboard sleeves that announced the presence of The dB’s musical offering for RSD 2013.

For anyone who might be a little late to the party, this is the second time The deeBs have obliged so graciously on Record Store Day. In 2011, they released the limited edition 7” Picture Sleeve single (with Will’s “Write Back” on the flip). Record Store Day that year also saw The dB’s performing live at Atlanta’s Criminal Records Store. But I digress.

Back to 2013. After arriving back home later that Saturday, I tore the shrink wrap off the EP and pulled out the rather brilliantly-colored slab o’ PVC that is Revolution of the Mind. Friends, is there anything cooler than beholding such a coveted object, just moments after laying your hands on it? I think not! Then, there was the added thrill of taking the little paper ticket found inside the EP, going online, and downloading digital versions of the tracks — in lossless FLAC (especially nice touch here, guys; thanks).

A few lucky SOB's in NC snagged signed inner sleeves!
And what about the music? On the assumption you’d all heard "Revolution" before Record Store Day, I won’t go on about it, except to say this: it absolutely deserves to be the lead track on this EP. It’s simply too great a song to be a digital-only release — which is what it was until now. (Find out everything you might ever need to know about the song HERE.)

The second track, “Lakefront”, occupies the A2 position on the EP, and is the first of two new songs on this release. Upon first listen, what registers immediately is how great a contrast A2 is to A1. The latter is a rocking call-to-action, whereas “Lakefront” is a wistful, melancholic ballad about a moment of emotional ambivalence and its consequences. The uninitiated would be forgiven for not guessing that both songs were composed by the same musician — one Peter L. Holsapple. The song has some lovely moments of heart-felt resonance, and features a compelling blend of keyboard, guitar, strings and Peter's understated vocals. However, after repeated listens, I can understand why it didn't make it onto Falling Off the Sky. I can't imagine it finding a proper musical home alongside the 12 tunes that were chosen for the album. Is it a worthy song? Yes, absolutely. But it probably belongs on a stand-alone release like this EP. 

Chris and his orange amp, RSD 2011
The third track, "Orange Squeezer", is yet another musical contrast. After the subdued tones of "Lakefront," "Orange Squeezer" comes out strutting and stomping. Lyrically, it's a lighthearted ode to a piece of studio equipment (a guitar pedal box that creates some sounds I'm guessing Chris really digs). Listen to just about any track on Lovesick Blues, his recent solo release. Then blast this little ditty, and marvel once again at the highly diversified musical talents of Mr. Chris Stamey. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall while the guys worked on the basic track — you can hear what a great time they had recording it. And who else do you think contributed electric guitar to "Orange Squeezer"? None other than Mitch Easter, the "fifth member" of The dB's. This one's a prime candidate to play loud (using your "Repeat Track" setting)... 

The real Orange Squeezer
The fourth and final track on the EP is a new version of an old song, "pH Factor (live)". This Raybeats-style instrumental has been part of The dB's live repertoire for many years and many tours. "pH Factor" originally appeared in 1982 as the B-side of the "Neverland" single (as well as a CD and cassette bonus track on some versions of the album Repercussion). Now, this classic instrumental can have another season in the sun, thanks to this most excellent live recording from Le Poisson Rouge in NYC (June 15, 2012). I've heard numerous live versions of "pH Factor", but this one definitely merits inclusion on this release.

Trivia Quiz: How many dB's fans out there know what the letters "pH" really stand for in the song's title? (Hint: it's got more to do with who wrote the tune than anything you might have learned in high school science class...) Double extra credit trivia question: what factual error appears on the rear sleeve of the new EP?

Monday, April 22

Game Theory - Berkeley, CA 1985 (Scott Miller memorial)

Berkeley Square
Berkeley, CA
Nov. 6, 1985

R.I.P. Scott Miller (1960-2013)
It’s sad the blog’s first Game Theory post coincides with the untimely death of the group’s leader on April 15 at age 53. Yet the music lives on...
Game Theory - shocking and awe-ing, San Francisco, 1985

soundboard (sound quality Ex-; great, warm-sounding recording; and the performance is pretty darn smokin'...)

REPERCUSSION: Mitch Easter has a very strong association with this band, producing and contributing to most of Game Theory’s albums. Chris Woodstra of AllMusic says Mitch functioned as “a fifth member” of the group in the studio, beginning with Real Nighttime (Game Theory’s first proper full-length album) in 1985.

BIG THANKS to the taper, traders and kneesfudd for sharing

SAMPLE: "I've Tried Subtlety (Berkeley 1985)"

01. Charlie Brown instrumental (cuts in; final 2 mins. only)
02. Shark Pretty
03. Never Mind
04. Curse of the Frontier Land
Mitch & Scott Miller
The Drive-In, Winston-Salem, NC 1985
05. The Only Lesson Learned
06. Baker Street
07. 24
08. Waltz the Halls Always
09. Where You Going Northern? -->
10. Real Nighttime
11. Rayon Drive
12. Couldn't I Just Tell You
13. Friend of the Family (cuts in)
14. I've Tried Subtlety
15. Beach State Rocking
16. If & When (sorry, not The dB's song)

17. Remake Remodel
18. I Turned Her Away
19. Dead Center

TT: 76:24 mins.


Game Theory:
Scott Miller - guitars, vocals
Suzi Ziegler - bass, backing vocals
Shelley LaFreniere - keyboards, backing vocals
Gil Ray - drums

Learn more about Game Theory’s music at The Loud Family’s official site and at AllMusic

Friday, April 19

The dB's - Chicago Radio Session 2012 + bonus

“Sound Opinions” Radio Session
WBEZ 91.5 FM
Chicago, IL

session date: Nov. 16, 2012
broadcast date: Feb. 1, 2013

Chris & Peter in session, WBEZ studios, Chicago, IL
photos by WBEZ, 91.5 FM via Flickr

Live session song tracks from video and web stream sources, converted to high-quality MP3 (interview segments in standard quality). Sound quality: Ex-.

Although it was recorded back in November when the band was on its Midwest Mini Tour, the mighty WBEZ-FM in Chicago waited some months before unleashing this great live session and interview via the station's “Sound Opinions” music show. The show is co-hosted by Chicago music journalists Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot (Jim is a long-time friend and supporter of The dB’s, so I’m guessing we can thank him for getting the band in the studio). The performance? The skeptical need only stream the sample "Neverland" to hear why many of us think the deeBs were at the top of their live game in November 2012.

The bonus this time around is an interview with some members of the band aired in Jan. 2013 by NPR’s World Cafe with David Dye. Add the two interviews together, and you've got a very engaging half-hour oral history of The dB's. PLEASE ENJOY!

Listen to (and/or download and/or watch videos from) the Feb. 1st episode of Sound Opinions (#375) HERE. Read the “footnotes” for the episode and get a complete rundown of what was played HERE. (Note: 2 of the 5 live takes featured here were not aired on the show). See 4 live videos from the session on YouTube. See 8 Flickr photos from the session HERE.

BIG THANKS to Jim DeRogatis and WBEZ for getting our guys in the studio and on the airwaves!
SAMPLE: "Neverland (Chicago 2012)"

01 That Time Is Gone
02 Happenstance
03 World to Cry
04 The Adventures of Albatross and Doggerel
05 Neverland

06 Interview (@128 kbps)
07 Interview with David Dye, World Caf
é, Jan. 2013 (@192 kbps)

ERRATA:  MP3 file tags have incorrect date for broadcast (should be 2013-02-01)

The dB’s:
Gene Holder – bass
Will Rigby – drums
Chris Stamey – guitar & vocals
Peter Holsapple – guitar & vocals

Brett Harris – keyboards & additional guitar

Friday, April 12

dB's vinyl EP with new songs!!

The dB's release "Revolution of the Mind" EP
for Record Store Day 2013

1. Revolution of the Mind
2. Lakefront*
3. Orange Squeezer*
4. pH Factor (live)^

*new, previously-unreleased song
^live at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC, 2012-06-15

12-inch orange vinyl release, limited to 2,000 copies

 Tracks 2 & 3 are completely new, previously-unreleased songs.
The EP's title song was previously released as a digital-only track
(first as a free web download and subsequently as a bonus track 
accessible to those who purchased the vinyl edition of Falling Off the Sky).

Digital download card included that gives purchaser computer access 
to all tracks in lossless format.

Alex Chilton & Teenage Fanclub - Glasgow 1996

13th Note
Glasgow, Scotland
April 8, 1996
FM broadcast ("Beat Patrol", BBC Scotland; sound quality: VG [multi-generation tape converted to wma files, then to MP3])
TFC's Norman Blake & LX Chilton - not really The Odd Couple!
REPERCUSSIONOf all the latter-day groups heavily inspired by Big Star, The Posies and Scottish alt-pop group Teenage Fanclub seem to have won the most respect from the late LX Chilton. Together, LX & Teenage Fanclub recorded a vinyl-only single in 1993 (with "Mine Exclusively" on the A-side and "Patti Girl" on the flip — both rather obscure cover tunes). That same year and in 1996, LX made some live appearances with TFC, one of which was this show in the group's hometown.
More Teenage Fanclub goodies to come in forthcoming posts. ENJOY!   

01 radio intro (early set) 
02 September Gurls
03 I Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do) Eddie Floyd cover 
04 My Heart Stood Still  Rodgers & Hart tune
05 Patti Girl  Dick Campbell tune (Gary & The Hornets cover)
06 Any Way the Wind Blows  Frank Zappa cover 
07 Walk Right Back  Everly Bros. cover 
08 Free Again  LX Chilton tune      
09 Telstar  Joe Meek / The Ventures cover (tape glitch, 10-sec hiccup at 2:11) 
10 Have I the Right?  Joe Meek / The Ventures cover
11 The Dark End of the Street  Chips Moman / Dan Penn tune
12 What Do You Know About Love?        
13 All Your Lovin' (I Miss Lovin')  Otis Rush cover
14 Life's a Gas  Teenage Fanclub tune
15 Waltz Across Texas  Ernest Tubb cover
16 Wooly Bully        
17 Hey! Little Child        
18 radio outro (early set)
19 intro (late set) + My Baby Just Cares for Me  Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn tune
20 Good Night My Love 
21 radio outro (late set)        
early set = 1-18; late set = 19-21 (incomplete -- 5 trax from this set saw commercial release on Various Artists - Shoeshine Chartbusters in 1997, so are excluded here)

LX & TEENAGE FANCLUB (early set):
LX Chilton – vocals, guitar
Norman Blake – guitar
Gerard Love - bass
Raymond McGinley - guitar
Paul Quinn - drums

LX Chilton – vocals, guitar
Alex Hutchinson – bass
Francis MacDonald - drums

Friday, April 5

The Mutton Birds - 2012 Radio Sessions

Wellington, NZ & London, UK
Radio Sessions
January & October 2012

FM recordings (sound quality Ex-; excellent FM captures with only a handful of very minor glitches)

BIG KIWI THANKS to Spence and his collaborators at for sharing these (and a lot of other great stuff for fans of Mutton Birds, et al). Check out Spence's site if you like what you hear.

ROB SEZ: The Mutton Birds are one of the all-time great, but nearly unknown, alt-pop groups on the face of the planet. In fact, I’ll make a second bold claim: if you like even a few of the artists featured at this blog, chances are very good you will be delighted to discover The Mutton Birds. The New Zealand-based group made a courageous go of it in the 1990s before disbanding in 2002. Fans like me were thrilled to hear they recently reformed to play some live shows and issue a great live album (Free Range, released in 2012).

On a recent long car ride filled with Mutton Birds listening, my teenage daughter said to me (as we puzzled over the group’s relative lack of success), “It must’ve been their name, Dad, ‘cuz their music is amazing.”

01 Dominion Road
02 Anchor Me
03 While You Sleep
04 Dominion Road
05 While You Sleep
06 A Thing Well Made
07 Envy of Angels
08 Friday I'm In Love (Cure cover)

Tracks 1-3 = New Zealand National Radio, 2012-01-27
Tracks 4-6, BBC 6Music, Gideon Coe, 2012-10-25
Tracks 7-8 = BBC Radio 2, Dermot O'Leary, 2012-10-27

The Mutton Birds:
Alan Gregg – bass, vocals 
David Long - guitar
Ross Burge - drums 
Don McGlashan – vocals, guitar, euphonium 

(new link - 2017)

Explore the music of The Mutton Birds