Monday, November 9, 2020

Love for the Love In and Must-Have New Release

More than two weeks ago, I picked up 'Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987' at the third and final drop of Record Store Day. It's a beautiful double-album box featuring orange vinyl and an 80-plus page 12"x12" book that's an oral history of the scene that bridges early '80s post-punk and early '90s indie rock as told by the band members that lived it. Until a few days ago, it was just sitting here unopened, taunting me, because life got in the way. Finally, the other night, after everyone in the household had gone to bed, I got comfy in the chaise lounge with my fancy headphones and listened and read simultaneously from beginning to end. What a delight!

Even though this is the kind of music that's the cornerstone of my collection, label Captured Tracks has dug deep (no dB's, Let's Active or other usual suspects), and there are only a handful of band names I recognize. Turns out, however, there are many personnel I know from other indie groups. Examples include Archer Prewitt, known for the Sea and Cake long before Bangtails. Donna Esposito is a name I recognize from the Cyclones (who appear on this comp), Cowboy & Spingirl and a couple of other bands, but I had no idea she was also in Riff Doctors. Lynn Blakey, who had a spell in Oh-OK appears here as part of Holiday and on and on. Even our hero Ric Menck, who you will find on my shelves as part of the Springfields (on this comp), Choo Choo Train, Bag-O-Shells and Velvet Crush, was also in the Reverbs around 1984, a band I never knew about until now. That statement can be said about many of the 28 bands featured, which is what makes this such an intriguing collection.
The opening words of the book are, "[w]hat if the U.S. had a compilation like C86?" NME's famous cassette is at least as revered today as it was when it came out 34 years ago. 'Strum & Thrum' is the best compilation of 2020. Like 'C86,' it's a collection fans of the genre will come back to again and again for decades to come. Perhaps we should all thank R.E.M. for releasing the "Chronic Town" EP, "Radio Free Europe" and 'Murmur' because many of the bands on 'Strum & Thrum' say they were inspired by these works... and it shows! 'Strum & Thrum' is set for wide release on Friday, and the only difference from the RSD version is standard black vinyl instead of that gorgeous orange wax. Grab a copy here. A note to Captured Tracks: When the dust settles on this release, how about a reissue of 'The Happy Forest' by the Reverbs?

One of the bands on 'Strum & Thrum is Los Angeles trio the Love In. They had one release, a self-titled six-song EP that came out in 1987. A few years ago while going down one of those YouTube rabbit holes I came across album opener "Late as Usual" and was hooked. Problem was, I couldn't find anything on the band. Just try searching the Love In on the Internet and see what you get. It drove me crazy. I did eventually find someone from the band to sell me the record. That's why I enjoyed this passage from band member Tom Sheppard in the book included with 'Strum & Thrum:'

"We printed, sold, and gave away maybe a couple of thousand copies of our EP, and we still get occasional requests from people asking for them. But sometimes it feels like it was all a paper dream, now crumpled and buried at the bottom of a junkyard. Try googling "Love In." You might find us on the 5,000th search page after every song with 'In Love' in the title, just below some archaic 1960s porn."

That's a lesson for you budding bands... he types as if there any kids reading this. Choose your name wisely, please. We didn't worry about such things in the 1980s. "Late as Usual" is the standout, and you can get that on 'Strum & Thrum.' Here are a couple of deeper cuts. Sorry about the surface noise and the pops. That's the way I got it. Again, lots of early R.E.M. influences. In the book, Mr. Sheppard tells a tale of meeting Peter Buck that's a great read but utterly heartbreaking.

Young Mr. Jones
On the Reds


Charity Chic said...

Was swithering with this one Brian
May have to take the plunge!

Charity Chic said...

Looks like I was too slow to pull the trigger!

Brian said...

CC, I see Captured Tracks has only CDs left (that was fast!), but the shipping to Scotland would have been a killer anyway. Juno Records is still taking orders for vinyl and is closer to home. Looks like in your neck of the woods release day isn't until Nov. 27. I know Monorail had the RSD version, but they are gone. No listing of upcoming black vinyl. Surprised about that.

(page down for vinyl preorder)

Brian said...

Norman Records still has it too. Expensive though.

Dan Destiny's Silver Dawn said...

Brian - this looks like a killer comp. Other than the Springfields' Sunflower (which I've got on an old, and much played, Bus Stop 7"), I've heard of precisely zero of these bands!

But like others, I'm wary of expensive overseas vinyl shipments to NZ in the current climate. I still haven't received the Wolfhounds LP from ATF, which I ordered back in July ...

Brian said...

DDSD, I can’t believe it about that Wolfhounds album. I was just in the shop that shipped it to you. If I had known, I would have asked my friend about it. Might be out of his hands though. Shipping is crazy right now. Are you able to track it?

Sunflower is terrific, isn’t it? I must have it at least five different ways now. Everything that duo did, no matter the band name, was gold.

Dan Destiny's Silver Dawn said...

Brian - I agree: Sunflower is a timeless classic. I'd also really like to get a copy of their single with a photo of Elizabeth Price on the sleeve, and a cover version of Primal Scream's 'Tomorrow Ends Today' on the b-side. That's definitely on my wants list!

I love the Reverbs track you've posted. Great band name too!

I don't mind a delay for the Wolfhounds if it meant the US postal ballots got through on time.

McPop said...

Hi Brian. I'm anxiously awaiting my pre-ordered Strum and Thrum from CT to arrive any day in the mail. Like you, I know some of the bands but many others I'm not familiar, can't wait to hear the discs and read the accompanying book. I acquired the Reverbs "Happy Forest" miniLP few years ago and it's stellar. Interesting story about The Love In. I was looking for their EP a while ago but to no avail. In addition to this new Jangle comp, I'm pre-ordered the new Bats album "Foothills" will be released this Friday. Meanwhile I've been playing the heck out of the new Smokescreens, Supercrush, Ezrat, Muldoons, and Exploding Flowers.
Be Well. - Matt

Brian said...

Always good to hear from you, McPop. Our houses have many of the same records on the turntable these days. Of those mentioned, Smokescreens, Supercrush and the Muldoons will be on my year-end lists for sure. I'm late to Ezrat and Exploding Flowers. Hopefully, I can remedy that soon. I don't know though... have gone a little crazy on the purchases lately. Even though this is release day, I got a message that my copy of the new Bats won't be here until just before Thanksgiving. Grr. Take care.

Walter said...

Great to hear from this sampler at your place Brian. I also ordered this for almost 40 Euro but I think it will be worth. Must arrive end of next week.

Brian said...

Hey Walter. Sorry, I missed you. You must have your Strum & Thrum by now. Yes, it's a pricey one but as you can see, there was a ton of work and care put into this one. Worth every euro.