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Month: March 2016

The Aquanettas: The Aquanettas Kill Anthrax, four songs, 1988

The Aquanettas: The Aquanettas Kill Anthrax, four songs, 1988

PERSONNEL:
Deborah Schwartz: Vocals, guitar
Jill Richmond: Guitar
Claudine Troise: Bass
Stephanie Seymour: Drums, back-up vocals

TRACK LISTING:
Black On Blonde
Faults
That Ain’t Right
Connecting Line

With their catchy, no-frills, Stones/Animals-influenced rock n’ roll, sassy stage presence and hippy-punk fashion sense, The Aquanettas were an “it” band on the late ’80s/early ’90s downtown scene, regularly packing them in at clubs like Nightingales and CBGB, touring nationally, and scoring a “major indie” deal with Vancouver-based Nettwerk Records to release their debut LP, Love With A Proper Stranger, in 1990.

All four songs on this cassette appear on Love With A Proper Stranger, but given this tape is dated two years before that album’s release, it’s not clear whether these are the same recordings as on the LP. Perhaps someone in the band can enlighten us?

The Aquanettas Kill Anthrax cover

The title of this tape is a joke on the fact that it was dubbed over a promo cassette for State Of Euphoria by Anthrax, released the same year on Island Records, where Aquanettas drummer Stephanie Seymour was employed at the time. (Quite by coincidence, a 12″ promo single by Anthrax sits right next to The Aquanettas in my vinyl collection!)

Alas, Anthrax outlived The Aquanettas, who broke up in 1995.

Anthrax: State of Euphoria promo cassette cover

East River Pipe: Point Of Memory, 1990

East River Pipe: Point Of Memory, 1990

PERSONNEL
F.M. Cornog: Vocals, all instruments

TRACK LISTING
Side 1
Shop An Attitude
The Politician’s Crippled
Helmet On
Fatherland

Side 2
40 Miles
You Will Never Go Away
Million, Trillion

I believe this was the second tape I got from the great F.M. Cornog; hopefully the first one will turn up. Fred’s music is the defining sound of the ’90s for me, and I mean that in the best way. “Helmet On” is, of course, the main attraction here, appearing three years before the epochal single on Sarah Records, but there’s no denying the scathing opener “Shop An Attitude.” Hang in for side two dreams “40 Miles” and “Million, Trillion.” I miss Fred and Barbara; I hope they’re happy.

Point Of Memory insert (detail)
Point Of Memory insert (detail)
Modern Pioneers: Five Songs, circa 1984

Modern Pioneers: Five Songs, circa 1984

PERSONNEL
Eric Neher: Vocals, guitar
Joe Mollura: Vocals, bass
Phill D’Ancona: Drums

TRACK LISTING
Forever Endeavor
The Traveler
Understanding
Laugh & Cry
Pioneer Beat

An informal “greatest hits” tape from a terrific band that never got its due. This recording’s provenance is murky; I don’t remember when nor where it was made, nor why the band’s name is misspelled on the spine. Pioneers frontman Eric Neher gave this cassette to Carole, in 1984 or 1985. He will have to answer for misspelling his band’s name on the spine. 🙂

Every song here is killer, but “The Traveler” is epic with a capital Pic. “Understanding” is another scorcher. Stick around for “Pioneer Beat” and dance your mess around.

“Every pilgrim on the block/Wants to dance the Plymouth Rock/Every cowboy on the street/The Pioneer Beat”

 

Modern Pioneers: Live at CBGB, July 29, 1986

Modern Pioneers: Live at CBGB, July 29, 1986

PERSONNEL
Eric Neher: Vocals, guitar
Joe Mollura: Vocals, bass
Phill D’Ancona: Drums

No track listing

Modern Pioneers were one of my favorite Long Island-based bands of the 1980s. The 1982 release of their vinyl debut EP, The Big Hookup, was among the first 12-inch indie releases by a local band; a watershed moment.

Singer and songwriter Eric Neher was, and is, a compelling on-stage presence, able to convey strong emotion while always remaining firmly in control. His plaintive, soaring vocals, and twanging Mosrite guitar, were perfectly complimented by Joe Mollura’s supple bass and Phill D’Ancona’s taut back beat. It’s New Wave surf-rock supreme, heroic and moody, with lyrics that take in the broad sweep of history and conclude: We’re screwed, let’s dance!

This 1986 performance followed the release the previous year of the 12-inch single “The Traveler” b/w “Everybody Knows” on the band’s own Adventure Records. Although Modern Pioneers would not survive the decade, they are at the peak of their powers on this recording.

This Universe Is Open!

This Universe Is Open!

On December 31, 2007, I closed Demo Universe for what I thought was the last time. After 20 years of reviewing unsigned and self-released recordings, I was worn out and ready to move on. I’ve not written a music review since.

Flash-forward to 2016 and we’re preparing to renovate our basement. Of course, this means cleaning out a basement packed with 30+ years of crap and ephemera. Among the items dragged into the daylight were four cassette tape display boxes, each holding 100 cassettes. At the height of my “career” — 1988-1997, when I was writing the “Independents’ Day” column (as Andy Glass) for The Musicians Exchange, the “Demorandum” column for Alternative Press, and churning out hundreds of reviews for Demo Universe — these display boxes hung on the wall over my desk.

Most of what I reviewed in those days was mediocre, at best, but some of it was outstandingly creative and exciting, if not always sonically pristine. The cream of the crop went up on the wall, along with tapes by my friends on the fertile East Village music scene of the 1990s, live recordings by my own bands and others, and assorted oddities.

By the time Demo Universe closed up shop (with close to 3,000 reviews in its database, and a waiting list in the hundreds), I hadn’t listened to any of this stuff in years; there was always something new to hear. And while I had long mused about one day digitizing them, nothing ever came of it until Carole bought me an Ion Tape 2 Go portable tape-to-MP3 converter as a stocking stuffer last Christmas. I had no excuse for not trying it out, and I did, which led me to two conclusions: 1) Now was the time to finally start digitizing my collection, and 2) the Ion converter was not up to the task. So, I scored a vintage Pioneer CT-F9191 deck on eBay; got an inexpensive but well rated Behringer UCA202 digital audio converter; hooked it all up through my aging iMac running an old demo version of Reaper; and set to work.

As of this writing, I have about 20 cassettes digitized. I will be uploading them to my Soundcloud stream, and posting them here, with cover scans, credits, and commentary. After this official launch of the project, my goal is to add one or two a day. Wish me luck.

I thank you for visiting this blog, I hope you enjoy the sounds you find here, and I welcome your comments. This Universe is OPEN!