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Month: April 2016

Mystery Friday Number Five: What Time Is It?

Mystery Friday Number Five: What Time Is It?

Welcome again to another episode of Mystery Friday! Time moves in strange ways in the Demo Universe, especially when I reach into the Box Of Unknown, pull out an unmarked cassette, play it, and attempt to describe it.

Our subject today/yesterday is a Denon Anti Resonance Construction HD8/100 High Bias Head Cleaning Leader cassette. You can tell from the number of words that this is a premium quality cassette. It has a jewel box but no j-card and the cassette is unmarked except for bits of tape affixed to the upper left corner of each side, labeling Side A “1”, and Side B, “3”. Hmmm.

Time won’t tell me what’s on this tape until I play it. Are you ready? Let’s listen!

1. “Smile Happy” by War, from the album “Why Can’t We Be Friends” (1975). This earthy, majestic, catharic Latino-jazz instrumental kicks off side two. The great band from East L.A. are at the height of their powers.

2. “What Difference Does It Make?” by The Smiths. Nice segue from brown joy to white despair, mister. 1984. Was Orwell wrong?

This is a mix tape for a party Carole and I hosted about 20 years ago at our apartment in Sunnyside. I’m guessing New Year’s Eve, 1992. I won’t be streaming this on Soundcloud, obviously — it will get yanked instantly. But I’m still fond of you, so just leave a comment and I’ll set you up. No more apologies!

3. “Right Now” by The Creatures. Siousxie and Budgie swing out, John Barry style. 1983.

4. “Let the Good Times Roll” by Shirley and Lee. This has to be a party tape. 1956.

5. “How Bad Do You Want It?” by Don Henley. The sound of 1989.

6. “Memphis In The Meantime” by John Hiatt. Lead track on 1987’s superb Bring the Family — Hyatt’s big comeback and a cornerstone of his career. If you haven’t heard it, you should.

7. “A Town Called Malice” by The Jam. A have a lot of favorite Jam songs, and this is one of them. 1982.

8. “Put A Tail On Your Kite” by Gunbunnies From the 1990 album Paw Paw Patch. Led by singer and killer guitarist Chris Maxwell, who went on to join the amazing Skeleton Key with Eric Sanko.

9. “Great Fire” by XTC. This song was on every mix tape I made after 1983.

10. “The Lone Rhinoceros” by Adrian Belew. From his 1982 debut Lone Rhino. Among the greatest guitarists ever, in my opinion.

11. “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell and The Voidoids. Nineteen fucking seventy-seven. If you haven’t given to Heart On Fire: Ivan Julian Fund, please do so now. Thanks.

12. “Stray Cat Strut” by The Stray Cats. I spent a lot of time at Heckle & Jeckle’s music bar in Merrick, Long Island, and once saw these guys hanging out at the bar. Never saw ’em play, but I did get my first tattoo as a indirect result of this song.

13. “Slipping and Sliding” by John Lennon. From his 1975 covers album Rock ‘n’ Roll. Produced by Phil Spector with his customary restraint.

14. “I’m An Adult Now” by The Pursuit of Happiness. Somebody screaming in a leather jacket. The sound of Toronto, 1986.

15. “Telstar” by Joe Meek and The Tornados. It’s 1962 and I am running out of tape on Side 1.

At this juncture, it’s worth pointing out that this mix was recorded solely from vinyl recordings. Yeah. I’m bad.

Side 2

1. “Wild And Loose” by The Time. I swear to God I titled this post before I heard this! This is, of course, from the 1982 album What Time Is It?, co-produced by Morris Day and Prince. Somebody get me a mirror!

2. “Get On The Good Foot” by James Brown. This had to be a New Year’s party. 1990?

3. “Around the Way Girl” by LL Cool J. Proof I liked rap in 1990.

4. “Soul Sassy” by Neneh Cherry. From Homebrew, 1992. The most recent song on this tape so far.

5. “Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground. The other sound of 1989.

6. Hmmm. “25 O’Clock” by Dukes of Stratosphear is almost immediately interrupted by “Give It Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were not a complete embarrassment in 1991. Dunno what happened here.

7. “From a Million Miles” by Single Gun Theory. Released as a single in November 1991. An under-appreciated electronic dance-pop band from Australia. This cut is radiant, and so of its time. Memories come flooding back.

8. What else could I play after that, but “Soon” by My Bloody Valentine? Words can hardly express how this song, and this album, changed me in 1991. An epochal recording.

9. “Mysterious Ways” by U2. Achtung Baby. After surviving a near-fatal bout of head-in-ass (an illness to which they would ultimately succumb), Bono and the boys rallied to hit it out the park in ’91.

10. “Golden Years” by David Bowie. The sound of 1976. I was seventeen, going on seventy. Run for the shadows.

11. “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads. The sound of 1981. All these years later, still blows my mind. Listen carefully, or just dance.

12. “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles. The sound of 1966. See instructions for “Once In A Lifetime”.

Fade out…

Well, that was fun! I do hope to hear from some of you in the comments, as I’d be glad to share my mix tape with you. I wonder where Side 2 & 4 is?

Mystery Friday Number Five

Shiva Speedway: 3 songs, 1994

Shiva Speedway: 3 songs, 1994

PERSONNEL:
Dezaray DeCarlo: Vocals, guitar
Todd Katz: Bass
Pam Nicholas: Drums
Heidi Saperstein: Guitar

Recorded by John Wood at Bird Dog Studios, Allston, Mass., April 1994

TRACK LISTING:
Dirty Idea
Genius
Highway

UPDATE 4/29/2016: Al Crisafuli, owner of the micro-indie labels Dromedary and Sugar Blast, was a big fan of Shiva Speedway, considered releasing a single on Dromedary, and kept in touch with Heidi Saperstein after they broke up. He posted this account to the Dromedary blog in 2009:

Shiva Speedway eventually broke up, although I think I lost touch with Pam [Nicholas] long before that happened. Their singer, Heidi Saperstein, released two absolutely killer CDs on Kimchee Records (I received them both for my Jersey Beat column, and I believe I reviewed them both over the years). She’s since changed her name to Heidi Lee and is playing with a band called the SnowLeopards, a commercial rock/power pop band that cites Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees, and Motown among their influences.

In 2007, the music blog Muruch music blog posted several MP3s by Heidi Lee Saperstein and the SnowLeopards.


A bracing blast of mid-1990’s aggro from this mostly-female band out of the then-red-hot Cambridge scene. This interview from Dead Angel, and this one from Vacant, clues us in on where the band was coming from at the time. Fun reads, both.

Shiva Speedway put out a 7″, two split singles, and one CD, Psychic City (Fire Eater, 1999), before breaking up in 1999. (A posthumous split single appeared in 2001). The three songs on this cassette were never released on vinyl or CD.

As far as I have been able to determine, none of the band members went on to do anything musically; if they did, there’s no evidence of it online. (Except for Heidi Saperstein; see update, above) Which is a pity, because this was a great band! Into Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey? You’re gonna love this!

Shiva Speedway: 3-songs, 1994

Closed Third Eye: Semi-Pseudo-Sorta (1995)

Closed Third Eye: Semi-Pseudo-Sorta (1995)

PERSONNEL:
All guitar, bass, and voices by Dennis
Except where noted all drums by Adam etc.

TRACK LISTING:

SIDE
Idiot Face
Help Won’t Help (Jason, guitar; Owen, violin)
President (Eric, bass; Jason, Saxophone)
Need (Owen, bass; Cindy, flute)
Devolution (Elda, vocals)
Yer Grave (Brian, guitar)
Letting The Night In
Black Gasoline (Derwood, drums; Pete, guitar)
Other Need

OTHER SIDE
Void (Bob, voice; Tony R, bass)
Dirt And Worms )Becky, drums; Owen, guitar; Tony R, bass & guitar; Jason, guitar)
Octologue
Dog Milk (Art, harmonica; Becky, trumpet; Tony C, drums; Eric, flute; Beth, bass; Joe, synth; Frank, guitar)
Pig Milk (Shebo, drums; Tony R, bass; Mark, Kalimba; Owen, Toy Piano; Lucy, voice; Mimi, guitar; Cindy, accordion)
Kick That Smile
Spaz-Prov (Becky, drums; Eric, bass)
Revelation

Lyrics by Dennis except “Devolution” by Elda
Recorded May 1994 – March 1995 at the Turning Hill, Palenville, NY
Engineered by Owen
Basic tracks on “Dirt And Worms” engineered by Neil
Basic tracks on Need engineered by Mark
Mixed by Owen and Dennis with help at times from Neil
Infinite thanks to all that helped
Cover photo by D.L.
Foot photo by Becky
Kinetic – Box 263, Hunter, NY 12442

One autumn day, Rip Van Winkle wanders up the mountains with his dog. Hearing his name called out, Rip sees a man wearing antiquated Dutch clothing; he is carrying a keg up the mountain and requires help. Together, they proceed to a hollow in which Rip discovers the source of thunderous noises: a group of ornately dressed, silent, bearded men who are playing nine-pins.

Rip does not ask who they are or how they know his name. Instead, he begins to drink some of their moonshine and soon falls asleep.

He awakes to discover shocking changes. His musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. Van Winkle returns to his village where he recognizes no one. He discovers that his wife has died and that his close friends have fallen in a war or moved away.

Rip Van Winkle learns that the men he met in the mountains are rumored to be the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew, which had vanished long ago. Rip learns he has been away from the village for at least twenty years.

This is an extraordinary recording, of which I had entirely forgotten. Blazing post-punk, psych-garage, let’s-get-fucked-up-and-make-some-noise-rock. A timeless, senseless, placeless, sense of time and place pervades this smoldering, mossy, unremembered howl of lysergic misery-joy from the haunted and banal Hudson Valley.

Semi-Pseudo-Sorta is waiting for you; don’t sleep on it.

Closed Third Eye: Pseudo-Semi-Sorta

Vicious Beatniks: Special Four Song Sampler, 1990

Vicious Beatniks: Special Four Song Sampler, 1990

PERSONNEL:
Dave Portolano: Vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Brian Lindgren: Guitars, E-bow, vocals
Drew Schmitt: Bass
Paul Wilson: Drums

Recorded at Legend Studios, Central Islip, NY
Engineered by Paul Umbach
Produced by Steve Sabella and the Gumby Brothers
Thanks to Bea and Harry for the use of the basement; thanks to Honey and Kathy and everyone else who helped keep us sane.

TRACK LISTING:
Slices Of Life (Lindgren/Portolano)
Two Crazy Four Words (Lindgren/Portolano)
Much Happiness (Lindgren)
Without Love (Portolano)

Led by guitarists Dave Portolano and Brian Lindgren, with various rhythm sections, Vicious Beatniks played raw, wordy rock with one foot in the revolutionary ’60s, the other in the no-future ’80s. Trash can drums and sometimes shaky bass playing do not detract from these bleak and bitter songs about suburban love gone wrong. “If we didn’t have each other/Where would we be?/Drinking alone somewhere until we can’t see.” The sound of Suffolk County, 1990.

Vicious Beatniks: Special Four Song Sampler, 1990: Outside

Vicious Beatniks: Special Four Song Sampler, 1990: Intside

Mystery Friday Number Four: Naked Came The Cassette

Mystery Friday Number Four: Naked Came The Cassette

Welcome back to another episode of Mystery Friday, when I play a cassette tape from the box UNKNOWN and attempt to describe it.

Tonight we have a TDK SA-X 90. Jewel box is in very good condition; just a scuff on the spine. The cassette itself is in mint condition, unmarked in any way.

Sherlock couldn’t guess what’s on this tape. Let’s listen!

Side A

1. “Hypnotized” seems to be the title. Prog-pop, like Collins-era Genesis or Foreigner or Rush. Works for what it is.

2. “She’s Just Living” I am guessing. An earnest epic for musos that’s really OK.

3. A very ’80s “modern rock” thing. I’m going with “On Every Sidewalk” for the title. Superior pop-song craftsmanship on show here. I have admit I like it.

That’s it? Apparently so. Can’t imagine there’s anything on

Side B

1. Wow, I didn’t expect to hear anything! This has to be titled “Welcome”. Is this the same band? This is brighter and brasher, the mix is raw, with loud vocal.

2. Minor-key, sort of Latin feel. Paranoid lyrics. Let’s call it “Virus”. This can’t be the same band as on Side A, can it?

3. No way is this the same band on Side A. Kinda glammy number here. “High High High”? “La La La”? Whatever. Cool song.

4. Old style rock n’ roll ballad style. British feel, like old Bee Gees. Bass heavy.

5. Hmm this one is a bit like Side A, but still, more raw. “The Goose Is Out”? Sure. This is a little Duran Duran. Side B has a more “demo” sound compared to A. I really have no freaking idea what I am listening to.

6. “A Refugee”? “Security In Numbers”? One of them. Great rockin glam song.

7. “Acting Out” is an OK ’80s modern rock song with sort of a Springsteen feel. Not pleasant.

8. “Is There Something I Should Know?”: Stompy, sneering, like early Who and not half bad.

9. “Sylvia”: Psychedelic rock, man. This is my favorite song on the whole tape.

10. Yikes, big change of sonic space! Big room reverb on this one. “Why Do I Love You?”, “Don’t Put Out Your Fire”, “Sociarama” (?) could all be the title. Decent song.

And I guess we’re done.

OK, well, this is an odd one. I don’t remember any of these songs and cannot name the band. Maybe somebody out there knows. Side A might be a three-song studio recording, although the mix is muddy. Side B is obviously demos, but it’s the more satisfying side.

Mystery Friday #4

A Confederacy Of Dunces: Clean Garbage (Dunces With Wolves), 1991

A Confederacy Of Dunces: Clean Garbage (Dunces With Wolves), 1991

TRACK LISTING

Side A
The Coolest Guys
Everybody’s Nice Until You Know Them
I Still Have Him
Mr. Stinginess
Hating Me Again
Something To Complain About
The Land Of opposites
Losers In Love
8 Months Ago
The Fine Art Of Settling
Thought That It Was Love
How She Used To Feel
She Loves Wintertime/A Sight To See
Betsey Johnson Dress

PERSONNEL:
Joe Pampel, lead & rhythm guitars, bass, percussion
John Dunbar, vocals, guitars, piano, bass, percussion
Sean Grissom, cello, “Betsey Johnson Dress”
Lou Cortelezzi, oboe, “How She Used To Feel”
Phoebe Legere, accordion, “How She Used To Feel”

Produced by Joe Pampel, John Dunbar and Ivan Purvis
All songs written by John Dunbar ©1991 Snooppenned Music /BMI

Recorded at Soundscape Levelhead Recording, NYC
Engineered by Ivan Purvis and Gary Wade
Mixed at Water Music, Hoboken, NJ by John Siket

I met John Dunbar at the New Music Seminar in 1988, the year I took over the “Independents’ Day column in The Musician’s Exchange from Paul E. Peaghe, writing as Andy Glass (a nom de plume assumed because I was, at the time, the editor of a competing publication, Music & Sound Retailer. John approached me first as “Andy” but before long we were Jim and John, and a lifelong friendship commenced.

A Confederacy Of Dunces released just two CDs, Tsk, Tsk, Tsk, in 1989 and Dunces With Wolves in 1991. This cassette looks like Dunces by another name; the track list is identical. Are they the same performances? I assume, but John only knows.

Dunbar will always be in my pantheon of songwriters, and it all started here. The talent on this recording is overwhelming. Highlights: “Everybody’s Nice Until You Know Them”, “Something To Complain About”, “The Land Of Opposites”, “The Fine Art Of Settling”, “How She Used To Feel”, “Betsey Johnson Dress”, and, uh, all of it. Fans of literate, acerbic Kinkpop, prepare to swoon!

Not long after the Dunces split, John went full bedroom, recording only solo and performing rarely, only recently stepping out with a new band, The John Sally Ride, and a Bandcamp page of recent recordings.

This album was recorded by my good friend and musical colleague, Gary Wade. R.I.P.

A Confederacy of Dunces, Clean Garbage

Mystery Friday Number Three: I Know You Are, But What Am I?

Mystery Friday Number Three: I Know You Are, But What Am I?

Welcome to Episode Three of Mystery Friday! Time for another plunge into the box UNKNOWN.

Tonight’s tape is a Scotch BX 90 135m Normal Bias. Scotch brand cassettes were not commonly used during this Universe; Memorex was much more popular at that time. And I can hear why — the spools rattle like mad as I fast-forward to limber up the tape.

In any event, the cassette is in brand-new condition, the j-card has but a few scratches, and it is not marked in any way. I haven’t a clue what’s on this. And neither do you. Let’s listen!

SIDE A:

1) It’s Tang S’Dang! My power trio with Ricky Street and Frank Patterson. This is an instrumental version of “Mr. Misunderstood”, one of my favorite songs that didn’t make it onto an album. This is a smokin’ take, too.

2) “Hard Hard World” Yeah! Lead-off track to Adult Love Boutique. Another instrumental. Holy shit this is intense.

3) “Marie and The Minotaur” This song of mine goes back to Techno-Peasants, the mid-80s band I had with Vinnie Fabiano and John Mazza. It’s a lyrical mashup of Bob Dylan, Pablo Picasso and Homer’s Odyssey. This sounds great. But we only released “Marie” as a live version on Bigger & Harder. Are these rehearsal tapes? Studio roughs? Not sure.

4) I forget the name of this one. Punky rockabilly, like Ricky loved and still does. It’s really fun to hear the instruments so clear and clean.

5) “I Turn Into You” Another frantic spastic toon by yours truly. Also dating from the Techno Peasants era. This is an early recording for sure. Way before the first album. 1987?

6) “Carnivores” I always loved this little song of mine. Nice changes on this. Good energy on the middle eight. We waited too long to put out an album, I have to say.

7) “Love/Hate” Geez, I have a lot of songs on this tape. Killer take on this, yes, unreleased tune. Damn.

8) “The Love You Thought You Found” A fab collab between Ricky and me. One of our best songs, oh man, this take is kicking. Why the fuck didn’t we release this? And where are the vocal stems???

9) “Enough To Say” Smokin little blues rock number that I always loved to play. Get my Humble Pie on. This recording sounds and feels very much like a live performance. Whoever recorded it did a great job.

10) “Dominoes” OK this one we released, on ALB. Always a favorite. I was just starting to get into African music, can you tell? Frank is brilliant here. This is so much better than the album version! I am losing my mind.

11) “Tiger By The Tail”. This became one of our signature tunes for some reason. I have mixed feelings about it, but that’s my problem, not yours. This is a solid instrumental version, despite a weak solo from this guy.

12) Wow, what is this? Definitely a Ricky song. Awesome changes! Intricately arranged power pop. Patterson is a monster. I fuck up. (Update 4/9/2016: Ricky identifies this as “Cathy Cried A Snowball”)

13) “I Remember” I love The Who, can you tell? WOW the ending!

Jim: “Still running.”
Ricky: “I think that’s about it for this side.”

CLUNK

SIDE B:

1) “Cupcake Man” The CBGB live version on BAH hits harder, and has vocals. But this is fine.

2) “Boys And I” Audio problems at the start. Distorted hi hat. Calms down once we get into it. Another tune we did at CBGB for BAH. This tape is shaping up to be a record of our entire repertoire.

3) “Empty Boxes” Nice tune. Released on the first LP. My lyrics are silly, but this is an instrumental, so lucky you! Good guitar solo by El Santo.

4) Yow! Another great, forgotten tune! No clue what this is, but it’s kicking my ass.

5) “Nine On The Spine” Top 10 fave of songs I have written, and we play it perfectly here. I should release this as a single!

6) Ah geez, what is this? Another great power-pop song. We played this a zillion times. Balls.

7) Rock n’ roll! No memory! Gimme a break, it’s been 30 years.

8) Nope, no clue. We obviously knew it well, ’cause we kick it down the street.

9) Cover of a fucking great song that I need to google because my brain is in the cloud

10) ‘allo, memory? have ya got any? No sir.

11) “Who’ll Be The Next In Line?” Kinks!

12) “You Got It Bad” I wrote this about someone.

13) Mmm, no. Anyone?

14) “Good For Him” says me or Ricky, but it don’t sound much like it.

15) “Long Run” If I hadn’t heard the title, I wouldn’t have remembered. But I did, and I do, although I could not recite the lyrics, even though I wrote ’em

16) “Vampire” Go!

CLUNK

Tang S'Dang Live Rehearsal Demo

Jenifer Convertible: Live at CBGB, March 28, 1998

Jenifer Convertible: Live at CBGB, March 28, 1998

PERSONNEL:
Lenny Zenith: Vocals, guitar
Jim Santo: Guitar, vocals
James Pertusi: Bass, vocals
Eddie Siino: Drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING:
Smoke
Weak
Brutal Deeam
Coffee
Rut
Pretty Dress
Lotion
Anger
(I Made A) Mistake
Eight

On March 27, 1998, five days after five inches of snow fell on New York City, an extraordinary five-day warm spell began. Each day had high temperatures of 80° or higher. The high of 83° on March 27 was a record (Source: New York City Weather Archive).

So naturally, my band, Jenifer Convertible, who usually performed in t-shirts and jeans (or in my case, dresses) decided to go ahead with our plan to wear business suits onstage at CBGB the following night. In those days, CBGB had no air-conditioning. Can you hear us sweat?

This show was very unusual, in that we played no songs from our then-recently released debut LP, Wanna Drag?. The set consisted entirely of material from our next album, which was never recorded. (Three numbers performed that night were eventually recorded for a five-song EP, Fumes, that was mixed after the band had broken up. Lenny has just made those songs available for public download for the first time.)

Other notes:
“Brutal Dream” features me on lap steel.
I sing the lead vocals on “Anger,” a song I wrote that Lenny sang on Fumes.
“Lotion” is about the band.

Jenifer Convertible: Live at CBGB, March 28, 1998

Monsters From The Id: Hyena Love Pt. II (A Drama In Two Acts)

Monsters From The Id: Hyena Love Pt. II (A Drama In Two Acts)

ACT I:
The Trees Are Bare (Prelude)
Hyena Love Pt. II
Born In Squirts
Brain Damage Dog
Fuck Up/Family Man
Epitomy Of A Woman

ACT II:
Crowded With Worms
Pooka Love
Daddy Does Fine
Jellyhole Motherfucker
Mean Things
Hyena in a ID zone
Recess Is Over (Finale)
Hyena Love Pt. 666 (Coda)

Monsters From The Id was a home-recording project by one Joel Sotelo, then resident of Citrus Heights, California. Although the j-card is undated, its appearance in the reviews section of Autoreview #2 suggests 1995-96.

These are hypnotic, narcotic, dream-state sounds, floating and dissolving at a slow, steady pace throughout, but this music is too alienated and disturbing to be considered ambient. David Lynch would like it. Comparisons to The Residents are inescapable, but that was a band; Lotero’s music is defined by loneliness.

Human voices drift in and out of Hyena Love, but they are merely found sounds, as distant from this reality as the rings of Saturn. Joel’s voice is at all times soaked and twisted with reverb, flanger, and fuzzbox, when it can be heard at all. The space-funk jam “Pooka Love” is an exception, revealing Sotelo’s soulful, drawling, Zappa-like baritone.

Zappa’s “The Adventures of Greggery Peccary” was almost certainly an influence on Hyena Love, and not just because it’s a concept album about a smallish mammal. Sotelo’s solipsism, the intricacy of his sonically dense arrangements, his adventurous ideas, and the meticulous way he’s assembled this waking nightmare of a tape would make Frank smile. Or at least, smirk.

Monsters From The Id: Hyena Love Pt. II (A Drama In Two Acts)

Mystery Friday Episode Two: None More Blank

Mystery Friday Episode Two: None More Blank

Welcome to Episode Two of Mystery Friday! Every Friday, I pull a cassette tape out of my box labeled UNKNOWN, play it, and attempt to describe it.

None More Blank

This week’s tape is Maxell UDS-II 90-minute cassette. The cassette is clean and in very good condition; however, it is unmarked in any way. The jewel box encasing it is badly scuffed and the front has a big crack in it. It too, is unmarked, There is no j-card.

I have no idea what is on this recording. Let’s play it!

SIDE A
1. “Then We’ll See” by The Skels. This was on the 1993 cassette-only EP I’ll Take The Low Road, but this not the mix I know. Bass is overloud, hard stereo pan on the two guitars, no effect on vocals too low in the mix. Sport counts off 1-2-3-4 to end it. Must be a rough mix.
Bill Hafener: “Then We’ll See” rough mix. Different lyrics than what are on the final release. originally intended for an early Sport solo thing. Willy and Jim V. on guitars, Al on drums and me on bass.

2. More Skels. A rolling, Caribbean feel on the verse, breaking into a classic Skels chorus, all Celtic heroism and pathos. I have only a vague memory of this one. “I don’t know what I’m going to do about tomorrow.” Oh wait this is the one with the Annie vocal coda. Aggh, I know this, what is the title?
BH: “Tomorrow” rough mix. One of the first recordings after “Sucks”. Played very often on stage, was never released.

3. Guitar scratch counts us in. No vocals. Obviously a studio rough mix. This a big epic Crazy Horse-like minor key monster. Again, the title escapes me.
BH: “Soon I’m Gonna Fall” instrumental rough mix. One of the last songs we recorded at Recordamatt, maybe the last. Al [Criscuolo] on drums. This ended up as one half of our only 7″ single, the last thing released before it imploded.

4. “I Call It Home”: Third track on Sucks To Be Us. Rockin’!

5. “Knucklehead”: One of the greatest songs on Sucks To Be Us. An ambitious arrangement, with swirling organs and chiming guitars, elevates a tune with good advice for youth: “Nobody gives two shits/For poor little misfits/You gotta be strong now.” Although penned long before their arrival, I imagine Sport singing this to his kids.
BH: FYI my daughter Cailie was the “angelic infant” the song’s about. She’s 25 now and most certainly not a knucklehead.

6. “Jutt Butt”: A close to final mix of this classic snatch of good-natured, carnal silliness. Guess it’s Sucks To Be Us time again! And why not? Such a good damn record. Who played piano on this one?

7. “John Leslie”: Triumphant? Yep. Ridiculous? You betcha. Unforgettable? Faggetaboudit. I don’t think it’s a stretch to name “John Leslie” the apotheosis of the Skels’ career. I will never be as aroused by a rock show as I was that night at The Golden Oak, when the set collapsed into glory and we fell out onto Sunrise Boulevard, drunk and sweaty and unconquerable.
BH: I THINK I remember the Golden Oak. If it’s the gig I’m remembering I got real angry because I was beat and the band before us took way took long to clear the stage after they played for too long and I yelled at them.

8. “Mary’s Grave”: First track on Sucks. Blast off!

And that’s it for Side A. Who knew I had two copies of the “lost” Skels album? Wish I could remember the titles of tracks #2 and #3; I suspect I will before long.

I wonder if there’s anything on…

SIDE B

1. Big guitar rock. Who is this? Is this Cowpatch, Bill Hafener’s post-Skels outfit? I think so!
BH: Cowpatch- “Target Sign”. My first attempt at doing something on my own. The song was by a band from Buffalo called “Cannon St.”. I don’t know if they ever found out I recorded it. I tried to sing it in the original key and it does not work.

2. Country-tinged rock with a slinky guitar and a Bo Diddley beat. Time has erased the titles from my memory, which is a pity. Fortunately I have a few well-labeled, official Cowpatch cassettes here to refresh it!
BH: Cowpatch- “Whiney Boy”. One of my tunes. Recorded same time as the previous one at Recordamatt. John [Boghardt] on bass and I honestly can’t remember if it’s Christopher [Ozone] or Jimmy [Colford] on the drums. I don’t remember the timeline too well. I know that I came up with the Bo Diddley style riff and that John, Jimmy and I would play it before Skels rehearsals but I don’t remember if Chris and I had started Cowpatch yet when this was recorded. The song is a good one, but my playing and singing on the recording are weak, and it should have been shortened.

3. “Amazing Grace” meets Neil Young at his heaviest. Hafener rides the feedback like a cowboy.
BH: Me- “Amazing Grace” recorded with my 65 SG Jr and two HIWATT half stacks on a Portastudio at our rehearsal space. Glad you found this because I don’t have a copy of it.

And that’s all she wrote.

Update 4/1/2016: That’s Steve Kelly on piano. Thanks Jimmy!
Update 4/2/2016: Bill Hafener added vital info on Facebook, which I have incorporated above.

Also, Christopher Ozone confirms he was the drummer on the Cowpatch recordings: “Yep that’s Cowpatch V.1 on Target Sign & Whiney Boy. Bill, John & me. Christ that had to be ’91 cuz I moved to Bklyn by ’92 and we were already on V.2 or maybe even V.3 by then.”