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Category: Live

Jenifer Convertible: Tame, 1995

Jenifer Convertible: Tame, 1995

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

TRACK LISTING:
1. Big Wheel
2. Maine
3. Closet/Death
4. Beg Off
5. Awakening From A Disturbing Dream

Recorded live to DAT by Al Houghton on a very hot day in the summer of 1995 at the original Dubway Studio on 8th Avenue, this EP captures JenCon in the period immediately after the departure that spring of original drummer Andy Moore. “Maine,” Andy’s not-dead-yet elegy, let me channel Jimmy Page; that’s one of my top fave recorded solos. “Big Wheel” was subsequently slowed down and rearranged for the Wharton Tiers-produced Wanna Drag? LP, which also included a new (and better?) recording of “Awakening.” The other three can only be heard here. I’m so glad we got a good recording of “Beg Off,” one of our strongest numbers at the time. I don’t know how many of these exist. Not many, I’m sure.

Phantom Tollbooth: Seven-song demo, 1985

Phantom Tollbooth: Seven-song demo, 1985

PERSONNEL:
Jon Coates: Drums
Dave Rick: Guitar, vocals
Jerry Smith: Bass, vocals

TRACK LISTING:
1. Jack Of All Phobias
2. Ohm On The Range
3. Saturday Afternoon
4. More Paranoia
5. More People
6. Good Luck
7. The Fuck

Unless I am mistaken, this is the original seven-song demo from which four songs were chosen for re-mastering and 2014 release by PT5Speed as the Demolition EP. Judging from the sound quality, this likely was recorded live in the band’s rehearsal space, possibly on Jon Coates’ 4-track. There are probably a few copies of this floating around the world (Willfully Obscure has a copy), but only a few. The trio is in ferociously fine form on this session. The extended version of “More Paranoia” is particularly earthshaking and volcanic. As a bonus, we get “More People”, which as far as I’ve been able to determine, was never formally released.

Phantom Tollbooth: Seven song demo, 1985. cassette

Jenifer Convertible: Live at Brownies, March 31, 1995 + Robert & Raymond at First Avenue Rehearsal

Jenifer Convertible: Live at Brownies, March 31, 1995 + Robert & Raymond at First Avenue Rehearsal

PERSONNEL:
Lenny Zenith, guitar
Andy Moore, drums
James Pertusi, bass
Jim Santo, guitar

TRACK LISTING:

Side A – Live at Brownies, March 31, 1995
Here is the original Jenifer Convertible, with Andy Moore on drums, at our best! This show happened on a Friday night during the New York University Independent Music Festival (although, as The New Yorker clip proves, it was not an official festival event). But there was no cooler place to be in the East Village in 1995, and the place was packed. I surprised Lenny by taking the stage in a little black dress.

jencon-brownies-1995-03-31

1. “Co-dependency” – Our first single and frequent set opener at that time.
2. “Wild Sugar Brown Thing” – Retitled “Rewind” for release later that year. I don’t remember why we changed the title.
3. “Awakening From A Disturbing Dream” – Different lyrics from the version on Wanna Drag?
4. “Speedracer” – Our next single. About to become that song we played forever.
5. “Beg” – It’s a pity this one never made it onto an album. So many decisions I don’t remember making. “My doctor gives me little courage pills.” I’m playing like a lunatic, cuz I was one.
6. “The Car Song” – New parts and body work made me what I am today. “The transsexual menace should unite!” We loved fucking with people’s heads.
7. “Timothy” – I had forgotten this song until today. Background vocals are dodgy, but we’re kickin’ ass regardless.
8. I forget the name of this song; I know there’s another version recorded. Let’s call it “Come Around Again”, though it probably had one of those one-word titles we liked so much in the nineties. The vocals probably sounded better if you were there, but I can’t complain.

A tight, 27-minute set. Happy about that.

Side B – In the JenCon rehearsal space, beneath the Hani Deli on First Avenue at St. Mark’s Place, Spring 1995.

Our space was under the sidewalk. Fluffer, Ultra Bide, Alice Donut, and D Generation all rehearsed there. A damp, squalid box, separated from the madness of East Village 1995 by a steel door in the sidewalk. Not infrequently, random strangers would lift the sidewalk door and invite themselves in. Just such a night is recorded here.

1. “I Need You” – A song of mine that I had forgotten until today.
2. An inexplicably better recorded version of “I Need You” or whatever we were calling it. I only ever had two songs in the repertoire, and that’s fine.
3. “Timothy” – Again with the dodgy vocals; we should have worked on them, but we didn’t, and that’s why I forgot about “Timothy” ha ha!
4. We introduce ourselves to our guests, Robert and Raymond, and play “Wild Sugar Brown Thing”. Why did we re-title it? The original title came from “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, plus Bob Mould’s band, Sugar, and, like, the Stones.

This is quite a good recording; I wish I could remember how we did it. I’ll bet Pertusi remembers.

Robert and Raymond are from Midtown West. Slummin’, James says, and they were.

5. “Wild Sugar Brown Thing” again. Great song.

6. “Speedracer” falls apart.

7. “Speedracer” holds together, but the recording does not.

8. “Awakening From A Disturbing Dream” – fidelity returns. Lenny’s vocal resembles the Brownies’ show, so I’m figuring this happened either shortly before or after the live gig on Side A. In any event, Andy quit in May, so these are among the last recordings with this line-up. So good!

9. Another forgotten JC song. Sounds like James on lead vocals? Heavy blues-rock groove on this one. I could not tell you the title, but it’s more than alright. “I don’t know why I get this way.”

10. “Used To It” – that’s TERRIBLE

Fin

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

Squirrels From Hell: 7 songs + Live at Nightingales, 09.28.1996

Squirrels From Hell: 7 songs + Live at Nightingales, 09.28.1996

PERSONNEL:
WILL: Bass, vocals
Joe Con: Guitar, vocals
Roger Morrison: Guitar, vocals on “So Happy”
Darian Minnick: drums

TRACK LISTING:
Side A:
Hat
Sleep Disturbance
Things We Had
Pen
So Happy
Doorbell
Every Day

Side B:
Live at Nightingales, 09.28.1996

UPDATE 3/25/2016: Side A is SFH’s 1996 demo cassette Evil Genus, which is probably around here somewhere. Thanks to Roger for this info!

“The Band New York Couldn’t Kill” reminds us why on this astounding document of the band’s classic mid-’90s line-up. Side A is a seven-song set of studio recordings; on the flip, a scorching, punishing set at the inescapable Nightingales. “I beat my dreams to death” howls WILL. “Seems our dreams are disappearing,” wails Joe Con. “Never gonna happen” they chant, as the band smolders, catches fire, and detonates. Bleak Despair! Lethal Art Rock! Holy Hamsters, this tape is Hot.

The B set list is not recorded, but I’m sure WILL will help us out in the comments if we ask nicely, especially if I mention the skull-splitting version of “Elevator” that rips up the room mid-set. Righteous. R.I.P. Joe Con

UPDATE 3/25/2016: Here’s the set list, as recorded by Roger 20 years later:

Squirrels From Hell 1996 set list

If anyone can identify song #10 in the live set, that’d be great.

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.