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Michael “Sport” Murphy: “My Limbic System (Is Fucked)”, Demo, 1995

Michael “Sport” Murphy: “My Limbic System (Is Fucked)”, Demo, 1995

PERSONNEL: Michael “Sport” Murphy, Vocals, guitar

“My Limbic System (Is Fucked)” is the B-side to the Time Or Dirt “Matilda Mother” 7″, released July 1995 on my Dive Records label. You can read all about TOD and the recording of the single, including the story of how “Limbic System” was chosen:

The B-side was picked in true Time Or Dirt fashion. I asked Sport if he had an unused song that I could record. He offered “My Limbic System (Is Fucked)” and I accepted it on the basis of the title alone. Fortunately for both of us, it turned out to be a good song.

Now, this single has been publicly available for 20 years; you can buy it today, as a matter of fact. But what we have here today is something only two people for certain have ever heard: Sport, who made this simple demo, complete with step by step instructions and suggested performance notes; and me.

If you’re inclined to record your own version, please have at it; post in the comments! In the meantime, here’s Time Or Dirt, featuring Sport on tam-tam, James Mastro on e-bow, and the final recording of Andy Moore on drums with JenCon.

East River Pipe: 3 songs, 1990

East River Pipe: 3 songs, 1990

PERSONNEL: F.M. Cornog, everything


1. Bristine
2. Here We Go
3. That’s What I Always Think

Well, this was unexpected! An unofficial ERP tape, forgotten for 16 years and unheard by almost everybody until now. You lucky dogs! No downloads, OK, so chill for 10 minutes and dig three super rare tracks from one of America’s great songwriters.

Chainsuck: Three songs, 1993

Chainsuck: Three songs, 1993

Marydee Reynolds: Vocals, guitar
Ruben Layman: Bass
George Bolton: Keyboards, samples
Michael Smith: Drums

Additional guitars: Doug Vargas
Additional samples: Lamar Lowder

Recorded by Lamar Lowder
Sound Sanctuary, Allston, MA — Fall 93
Cover photo: G. Benson
All songs by Marydee Reynolds © 1993

1. Prozac
2. Emily Says
3. Big Mistake

Recorded within a year of this Boston band’s formation, this is the demo tape that Chris Connelly, from Ministry and the Revolting Cocks, brought to Chicago’s Wax Trax, resulting in the label releasing Chainsuck’s debut LP, Angelscore (1996), as well as more pop-leaning follow up Kindly Stop for Me (1999).

All three of these songs are on Angelscore, but these demo versions, stripped of mid-90s studio sheen, are superior. Sadly, neither album caught fire, and the band quietly exited the stage at the turn of the millennium.

A New York native, Marydee Reynolds has resided in Chicago since the Chainsuck days; she remains active, reviving her great aunt’s old-time country act Girls Of The Golden West. Drummer Michael Smith plays in Fireking. Producer Lamar Lowder is a digital artist in Sydney, Australia. Layman and Bolton have receded into obscurity.

Chainsuck: Three songs, 1994

eyelight: [trigger], 1994

eyelight: [trigger], 1994

Jehn Cerron: Vocals, loops

First Side
1. She’s Lavender
2. Holding Hands And Eyes
3. Tunnel To A Channel
4. (little swing break – no title
5. It Starts At The End
6. Sweet Sister
7. Embrace And Depart
8. Tell Me A Story
9. Kiss The Air Nearest Your Face

Second Side
1. Singing In The Swing
2. Please Keep A Light On
3. Regret I Felt
4. Middle Of Sunday
5. Lazy
6. Ears In The Dirt Stuck In The Ground
7. Light
8. I’ll Dream You

I had the great pleasure of meeting Jehn Cerron and seeing her perform during WE Fest in Wilmington, NC. Offstage, she was shy, nervous, and sweet. On stage, she was a magician, a time bender.

Discovering eyelight was among the most precious rewards from my travels in the cassette underground. This early cassette is an odyssey in itself; a mesmerizing, disorienting gallery of voice in all its guises.

Jehn is still active in music, collaborating with others and occasionally performing near her home in Florida. She’s not released anything as eyelight in a very long time. And that’s OK. A UK label has offered some of her work on Bandcamp for free, and she’s got a bunch of songs on Reverbnation.

A conversation between Jehn Cerron and Ian C. Stewart, 2011

Bite The Wax Godhead: Decaf Notorioso, 1992

Bite The Wax Godhead: Decaf Notorioso, 1992

Alec Cumming: Bass, acoistic guitar, voclas, crash cymbal & keyboards on “Today Show Tango”
Cynthia Harden: Programming, keyboards, vocals, flute & xylophone
Larry “Screech” Horowitz: Lead & rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Featuring the talents of:
Doug Wolff: Saxophone on “Obvious Signs Of Decay”
Paul Rose: Electric guitar on “While I’m Dreaming”
Elizabeth Hughes: Drums & percission on “Outta My Life Again”, “Fool For Ya Baby” & Subtle Place
Vilnius Mantwerp: Drums on “Chocolate Cake”

About the songs…

B.T.W.G. was recorded live at CBGB’s, NYC, 4/13/1991. Engineered by Ron Ardito. Produced by BTWG.

Lies and Promises, Transportation, Obvious Signs Of Decay & Driving were recorded at Grampa Studios, Brooklyn, NY, 11/90. Engineered by Mick Cantarella. Produced by BTWG & Mick Cantarella.

Outta My Life Again, Subtle Place & Fool For Ya Baby were recorded at Grampa/Ear for Music, Brooklyn, NY, 9/91-11/91. Engineered by Mick Cantarella & Tim Cramer. Produced by BTWG.

“Today Show” Tango, Chocolate Cake & While I’m Dreaming were recorded at Hanging Gutter Garden Studio, Nutley, NJ, 2/90-3/90. Engineered by Paul Rose & Mike Bowman. Produced by BTWG.

Barbra Wore A Halter Top was recorded at Chung King House of Metal, NYC, 4/91. Engineered by Dary Sulrich. Produced by BTWG.

The Summer’s Over was recorded at Chung King 4/91 & Grampa 2/92. Engineered by Dary Sulrich and Mick Cantarella. Produced by BTWG.

Wasted Years was recorded on Alec’s 4-track, Spring ’91.

The recordings of Barbra and Summer’s Over appear courtesy of Chrysalis Records

“DECAF NOTORIOSO” is for demo purposes only.

Mastered by Mick Cantarella at Grampa, 2/7/92

Cover illustration/Design by Bowman-Stevenson Group.

Executive producer: Carble Yost


Side One:
1. B.T.W.G.
2. Lies and Promises
3. Outta My Life Again
4. Transportation
5. Subtle Place
6. “Today Show” Tango
7. Barbra Wore A Halter Top

Side Two:
1. Obvious Signs Of Decay
2. The Summer’s Over
3. Chocolate Cake
4. Fool For Ya Baby
5. Driving
6. While I’m Dreaming
7. Wasted Years

All songs © 1990/91/92 by Alec Cumming / Cynthia Harden

Alec Cumming is an old and dear friend; he was The Sharp Things’ bassist back when we thought we were going somewhere (that’s him on our difficult second album, Foxes & Hounds), played on the first Time Or Dirt single, and spent a year or so with me in the obvious sign of decay known as TORCHY. I first met Alec in late ’80s, when he was in The Hungry Dutchmen, but it was during the BTWG years that I really got to know him and his then-wife Cynthia Harden.

This cassette album may have been “for demo purposes only” but make no mistake: this is as well-produced as anything released in 1992. And it sounds as good as ever — actually even better than I remembered! Decaf Notorioso is a delightful fusion of Wilson/Bacharach pop mastery, indie rocking, disco, funk, and sassy white-girl rap. Just a ton of fun. Dig it.

OK, here’s where I mention Sunflower Bean, the band fronted by BTWG lovechild Julia Cumming. That should drive the hits up!

The Wives: Carl, 1992

The Wives: Carl, 1992

Susan Horwitz: Guitar, lead vocals
Mary Dunham: Bass, background vocals
Tracy Almazan: Drums, background vocals

Produced by Richard Brukner
Recorded at TuCasa Sound Stucios, NYC
Mixed at The Place, NYC

1. Smooth Stone
2. Away
3. 100 Sorries
4. Let ’em Go
5. Mempho

The Wives! What a band. One-time roomies with Jenifer Convertible at The Music Building on Eighth Avenue, we shared the stage with these rockin’ chicks at clubs all over the East Village throughout the nineties, and we’ve remained good friends ever since. Fast, smart post-punk rock, outwardly joyous and inwardly distressed, their music is part of my personal soundtrack of that era.

The Wives, 1992
The Wives, 1992

The band members continue to collaborate. A few years back, James Pertusi and I recorded an EP for Futurex, a very Wives-like band comprised of Sue, Mary and drummer Paul Andrews (Fluffer, Ff, Shirk Circus), and Mary and Tracy (who went on to join Helldorado and Nashville Pussy) are lately burning up the blues-rock circuit with the incredible Jane Lee Hooker (Tracy’s as great a guitarist as she is drummer — and that’s pretty great!)

The Wives played a one-off, 10-year reunion show in 2013, which I, being a loser, missed. Oh well, at last I have my tapes, and you will be hearing more from The Wives as time goes by.

“Breathe in deep and strong/Blink and it’s gone away”

The Wives: Carl, 1992 J-Card

Ivan Julian: Ten songs, circa 1995

Ivan Julian: Ten songs, circa 1995

PERSONNEL: Not listed


1. Love Affair
2. Cazalla
3. The Naked Flame
4. Love Is Good
5. Sticky
6. Godiva
7. Can’t Help Myself
9. She Drives Me Wild
10. Cut Me Loose

Guitarist Ivan Julian is a national treasure. A founding member of the seminal punk group Richard Hell and the Voidoids, he has performed with the Isley Brothers, The Clash, Matthew Sweet, The Bongos, Richard Barone, and Shriekback. We met in the late ’80s, when he was in Lovelies with Cyn Sley, and we were close for a time (hear him play sax and bass on one of my Time Or Dirt singles), We kept in touch for many years, although not so much lately, sorry to say. Ivan recently won a bout with cancer, aided by a Who’s Who of New York rock who rallied to help pay medical expenses. I hope I see him again soon.

Ivan’s official solo debut, The Naked Flame, did not appear until 2008, but the title track dates back at least to this tape, which he gave me around the time he was playing with Matthew Sweet. I think (“Godiva” and “Sticky” also stuck around for the decade). The slow, soulful scorcher “Love Is Good,” feedback freakout “Godiva”, and ’70s Stones-inspired funk-rocker ‘Can’t Help Myself” are highlights of a terrific, unjustly forgotten recording.

Babe The Blue Ox: B.O.X., 1992

Babe The Blue Ox: B.O.X., 1992

Hanna Fox: Drums
Rose Thomson: Bass
Tim Thomas: Guitar

This tape may include from zero to eight extra songs, depending.
This tape is an unmastered demo not to be sold or traded for crack.

All songs by Babe the blue OX (BOX) copyright 1992

1. Home
2. Honey-Do
3. Chicken Head Bone Sucker
4. Gymkhana
5. Waiting For Water To Boil
6. Tongue-Tied
7. Booty

Nobody who saw Babe the Blue Ox perform will ever forget the experience. One of the top bands on the New York scene in the early ’90s, BOX was a clattering, shattering whirlwind of scratchy math and grinning mayhem, with a disarming tendency to break into interludes of shimmering beauty.

These songs, perhaps even these exact recordings, were released by Homestead Records in 1993, as the greater part of the band’s debut LP, Box. That CD is out of print, but Babe The Blue Ox, gloriously, is still active, most recently issuing Guilty in 2013. You should buy that thing.

“It’s the power of love/It’s the power of booty”

Ninewood: Six songs, 1997

Ninewood: Six songs, 1997

Angela Coon: Vocals
Chris Papa: Bass
Karen Roze: Bass, b. vocals
Mat Kolehmainen: Drums

Recorded by Dan Rathbun at Polymorph
Produced by Ninewood and Rathbun

All songs by Ninewood ©1997 except words of Elephant Cadaver which were taken from Pachuco Cadaver by Don Van Vliet and words of Marginal Lullaby which were taken from Mark Strand.

1. Eaglet Shaper
2. Marginal Lullaby
3. New Can Of Ice
4. The Flume Atrocity
5. Elephant Cadaver
6. Bone Dirge

“With two basses, no guitars, spastic-fantastic drumming and a creepy chanteuse, Ninewood create a spooky clatter. Lurking in an art-noir alley between Morphine and the Magic Band, this Bay Area foursome (Angela Coon, vocals; Chris Papa, bass; Karen Roze, bass, backing vocals; and Matt Kolehmainen) lift lyrics from Captain Beefheart (“Elephant Cadaver” reworks the Captain’s “Pachuco Cadaver”) and Mark Sandman (whose poetry invigorates “Marginal Lullaby”) but turn their own fine phrases in such vividly named tunes as “Eaglet Shaper,” “New Can Of Ice” and “Bone Dirge,” the latter of which is a Bradbury-esque tale of a man who “had no bones in his body.” — Demo Universe, 1998

“Staples of the Oakland music scene in 1997 – 2002. Toured western europe in 1999 and again in 2000. Release three albums: New Can Of Ice, American Salt Lick, and Wake. All recorded at Polymorph in Oakland. Ninewood played their last live show on August 24th, 2000 at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. In 2002, a final set of tunes was released on the EP, Wake. Angela and Karen continue to make music in the Bay Area. Mathias has moved to LA to go to back to school, and Chris is in Seattle carving wood.” —

As of 2016, Angela is an acupuncturist and Karen is a tattoo artist. They both make their living sticking needles into people. Chris Papa is still carving wood. Mathias Kolehmainen is now in Louisville, Kentucky, has played with Dropsy and Parlour, and is gainfully employed as a software developer.

Formaldehyde Blues Train: Six songs, circa 1992

Formaldehyde Blues Train: Six songs, circa 1992

Hollis Fitch: vocals
Dave “Jake Rancheroo” Weiss: guitar
Richard Jean: guitar
Murray Compton: bass
Jim “the Lieutenant” Petropoulos: drums

1. Backroads
2. Capt. Dog
3. Voo Doo Nectarine
4. Devil’s Eyes
5. St. Louie
6. The Swamp Song

Way back when, in a very different Brooklyn, there was a red-hot music scene in, of all places, Park Slope. Centered on Lauterbach’s, a sketchy basement dive on Prospect Avenue, the Brooklyn Beat embraced an insane variety of musical styles, played by bands of uniformly high quality. I can honestly say I never saw a bad show at Lauterbach’s.

Among the kings of the Brooklyn Beat scene was Formaldehyde Blues Train, purveyors of swamp-rock supreme. FBT had only two formal releases that I know of: the 1991 Friday The 13th 7″, and the 1993 CD EP Dig; both are long out of print, but there are used copies to be had. Given that four of the songs here appeared on one or both of those records, I’m figuring this super-rare tape surfaced sometime in between. Or maybe it predated them; I can’t be sure.

Anyhoo, if yer hankering for some volcanic, yowling swamp-a-billy, grab a bottle of hootch and crank this ‘un up! As an added bonus, here’s a fun old video that will give you a taste of what TBT were like in their prime: