Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hoboken To Athens (Vol. 1 of 3)

I recently featured the soundtrack to 'Athens, Ga. - Inside/Out.' It produced feedback from a regular reader that goes by the moniker kevinpat. Now, his feedback ranges from funny to thoughtful and lively to intellectual, but his comment that day was downright curious. He wrote of a mammoth mix he had compiled featuring two legendary music scenes from an era we love. After listening to 'Hoboken to Athens,' I knew this was a collection you would want to know more about. So, without further adieu, please welcome kevinpat for a few words on the first volume. We'll take a look at the other two discs in future postings. Take it away, kevinpat.

Who can pinpoint where one thing begins and then ends? Especially in music. Brian asked me graciously if I would like to share my albeit limited knowledge of the 1980s music scene that burgeoned in Athens, Georgia and Hoboken, New Jersey, which is just a stone's throw and subway ride from NYC. Of course I jumped at the chance to pontificate about this 40-year-old music that still gets me every time. A bit different from the music shared here, but maybe not so much. What makes this "sound" so distinctive I believe is the jangly guitars, playfulness and the somewhat indecipherable lyrics at times. Early R.E.M. records might be a perfect example. However that represents just a small microcosm of this period. One might argue successfully that 'Talking Heads '77' is the linchpin with its herky-jerky vocals, lyrics and rhythms. But I'll bet Talking Heads would point to Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers as their inspiration. Others would declare Alex Chilton's Big Star as the musical center. See? It's all a musical blend.
A few years back I compiled from singles, EPs, albums, one cassette tape and eventually CDs a three-volume 'Hoboken To Athens' set. I made two copies for friends, and through word and mouth a few of their friends. I am told it is still a great listen. And as all record collectors we like to share. Our good friend Brian is the perfect example of that. Now if I could figure out how to condense and zip file these things I gladly would post. There must be some conspiracy because it never works. However, as mentioned before, I am very willing to send hard copies to anyone who might like to explore.
Because I save everything I can find nothing, and it took me awhile to locate the little ad for R.E.M.'s first single "Radio Free Europe" that kind of started this thing for me. For $2.25 I took my chance on something that for some reason intrigued me. I wasn't disappointed. It sounded like nothing I heard before. Of course I wanted more. I started buying more "interesting" singles through the mail when I realized the locale connections. And of course the sound. As I further discovered R.E.M. was hardly the beginning. The dBs had two great albums out after they were involved in some local incarnations, the Sneakers and the H-Bombs. One of its founders was Chris Stamey who started out in New York and than transplanted in North Carolina to play with Alex Chilton of Big Star. In the meantime Mitch Easter, his other compadre, turned his garage into a make-shift studio in Winston-Salem close to where there was a burgeoning music scene in Athens, Georgia. Up north a small club in Hoboken called Maxwell's was also building a reputation. Many of the Athens bands would play at Maxwell's when they couldn't get gigs in Manhattan.
Like all music enthusiasts, I couldn't get enough. Years later I decided to put together all these singles, EPs, and album tracks together. It was a labor of love. I shared it with my buddy who plays it in the record store where he works and it gets interest there too. It's still one of my go-to collections for long car trips, because we all know how much better music sounds in a moving car. In fact I've been known to sing Pylon songs out loud, off key out the car window through town. It's all just fun.

'Hoboken To Athens' (Vol. One):
1. "Fa-Ce-La" - The Feelies (from 'Crazy Rhythms')
2. "I Will Understand" - The Sneakers (from 'Racket')
3. "Prying Eyes" - Mitch Easter (from 'Shake to Date' comp.)
4. "American Beat" - The Fleshtones (Red Star 45)
5. "Critical List" - The Fleshtones (Red Star 45)
6. "(I Thought) You Wanted To Know" - The dBs (Car 45)
7. "Cycles Per Second" - The dBs (from 'Stands for Decibels')
8. "52 Girls" - The B52s (single version)
9. "Cool" - Pylon ('Armegedden' 10")
10. "Radio Free Europe" - R.E.M. (Hib-Tone 45)
11. "Telephoto Lens - The Bongos (from 'Drums Along the Hudson')
12. "You're So Cool" - The Cyclones (Little Ricky 45)
13. "Got Me A Girl" - The Smithereens ('Dirt' compilation)
14. "Someday, Someway" Marshall Crenshaw (from 'Marshall Crenshaw')
15. "My Boyfriend" - The Cucumbers ('Fake Doom' EP)
16. "Dancing With My 80 Wives" - The Individuals (from 'The Individuals')
17. "Bring Me A Million Dollars" - Love Tractor (from 'Love Tractor')
18. "M-Train" - Pylon (dB 34)
19. "Tell Me" - Art in the Dark (from 'Four Song' EP)
20. "Southern" - Buzz of Delight (from 'Buzz of Delight' EP)
21. "Such and Such" - Oh OK (from 'Furthermorewhat' EP)
22. "Back To Zero" - Tommy Keene (from 'Places That Are Gone' EP)
23. "Amplifier" - The dBs (from 'Repercussion')
24. "No Guilt" - The Waitresses (from 'Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?')
25. "How To Keep Your Husband Happy" - The Cosmopolitans (from 'Shake to Date' comp.)
26. "Rock Lobster" - The B52s (single version)

Many of these tracks you may be very familiar with, but they are especially endearing in this context. I got so psyched revisiting this set I dug deep and began working on an addendum. I found some great stuff, which of course I’ll be happy to share if there is interest. The three-volume set is available upon request... because everything is cool.

If you're interested (and why wouldn't you be?), feel free to send your contact information to I'll be happy to forward your address to kevinpat.


The Swede said...

Hey kevinpat. I'm so glad that Brian was able to convince you to write a bit about your glorious compilation. To be honest, I haven't made it much past Volume One myself yet, such is the quality on offer - when I get to the end, I start all over again. Yes, I might recognise about a third of the songs on offer to some degree or other, but then I stumble onto a band like The Cyclones - this brilliant single came out 35 years ago (35 years!), why was I never informed? Also, I thought I was fairly au-fait with The Smithereens early output, but I'm pretty sure that I haven't run into 'Got Me a Girl' before. And so it goes on, tune after killer tune.
To anyone reading this and mulling over kevinpat's extraordinarily generous offer to burn copies of 'Hoboken To Athens', I can only advise you to grab it while you can. It's a simply joyous listen.
To kevinpat I say a thousand thanks and I look forward to reading your further thoughts on Volumes 2 & 3....Oh, and please put me down for a copy of that addendum that you're working on!

TheRobster said...

What a great idea. Yes, I know some, but quite a few I don't. I'd love a copy of the CDs. I'll be in touch...