Saturday, August 10, 2019

Summer of Subway: Cowboy and Spin Girl

The last of the Americans on Subway this week. Cowboy and Spin Girl were the boy-girl duo of Donna Esposito and Frank Bednash. A few of you out there may remember Esposito from her days with New York power-pop outfit the Cyclones, whose 1981 song "You're So Cool" was an underground hit along the Northeast Corridor.

Although an obvious fan of the label, I bought Cowboy and Spin Girl's self-titled eight-song long player (SUBORG 10) a few years back more because Mitch Easter produced all the songs on the B-side at his legendary Drive-In Studio in Winston-Salem, North Carolina than the fact that it was on Subway. Easter's relationship with Esposito went back at least to the days of the Cyclones when he filled in on bass for a while. Cowboy and Spin Girl's connection to the indie label in Bristol, however, is completely unknown to me, and they didn't stick around long. This 1988 album is the only release they had on Subway.

In the '90s, the band moved on to legendary Midwest label Parasol for a couple of catchy singles and an album. The pair weren't done, but the moniker Cowboy and Spin Girl was retired. They stuck with Parasol, moved to Seattle and became Toothpaste 2000 for a while. In more recent years, they changed names again. To the best of my knowledge, they live in the Portland area now and go by the name Mas Rapido.

Back to the Subway album. For the most part, this is power pop in the vein of the Bomp! label. Album opener "White Lies" is the song that sounds closest to quintessential Subway. It's lo-fi and a little fuzzy but not as much as, say, Shop Assistants or the Rosehips. As they went on to do their entire careers, Esposito and Bednash split the songs 50/50 and, to be frank, I have always preferred Esposito's work to Bednash's. Furthermore, I have always gone for Easter's B-side much more than the A-side produced by the band in New York. Perhaps that's just me, but I'll let you be the judge. Here's a taster...

From Side A: Produced by Cowboy and Spin Girl
White Lies
Tomorrow's Hits Today
From Side B: Produced by Mitch Easter
Turn Me On
Set the World on Fire

So far in the Summer of Subway series:
Choo Choo Train
Sex Clark Five
The Charlottes
Bubblegum Splash
Shop Assistants
The Soup Dragons
Rodney Allen
The Rosehips
Korova Milk Bar
The Clouds

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