Plasterscene Replicas ‎- Glow (1988, Raining)

It seems every year I come across a seriously Chaunkah-worthy indie pop relic from the Reagan-era (or in the case of these Canucks, the Mulroney era) that was entirely unfamiliar to me the year prior.  So how did Toronto’s Plasterscene Replicas make my much belated radar? 

I believe I encountered their name in the “thank you” credits in a Change of Heart album, and by coincidence, not long after, I found PR’s Glow while browsing at a record store up north.  Truth be told, I’ve presented a lot of bands like the Replicas over the years – forward thinking guitar rock with mildly oblique lyrics and a dash of melancholia.  Sonically, they fit the bill as well – sweet, echoing guitars that are simultaneously crunchy yet jangly, backed by a tight, spotless rhythm section.  In short, a shoo-in for the college radio circuit, though I’m not certain how much traction PR had south of the Canadian boarder.  And almost everything here is golden – “What Could Be Incomplete,” “All I See,” and the sprite, assertive opener “We Can Walk” to name but three.  Glow often emanates the feel of a vintage Don Dixon or Mitch Easter production, and while there are traces of Game Theory and early Dreams So Real, there are beefier angularities that point to the likes of early Northern Pikes, Big Country (less obviously), and the Replica’s Irish contemporaries Cactus World News.  I’m lovin’ this one mightily.

PR co-guitarist/frontman Charlie Salmon passed on in 2013.  An article on Toronto’s Now magazine site offers some background details on him and the Plasterscene Replicas is general. 

01. We Can Walk
02. Things You Hold
03. Doldrums
04. What Could Be Incomplete
05. Trains
06. Pull Out
07. All I See
08. Hot Sand
09. Holler
10. Town Crier
11. Falling Down the Stairs
12. You’ve Got the Way

MP3  or  FLAC

Articles Origin: Plasterscene Replicas ‎- Glow (1988, Raining)


Off Broadway (USA) – Live in studio 1980, and unreleased.

I thought this would be an appropriate follow-up to last nights Cheap Trick indulgence.  Let’s see.  I don’t think I’ve talked up Off Broadway (USA) before on here, but like Trick, they also hailed from the environs of Chicago, and like it or not, were lumped in the power pop ghetto.

Like contemporaries Shoes, Off Broadway were airtight and economical, but throaty frontman Cliff Johnson lent the band a sturdy, muscular forte.  The quintet’s linear but groove-savvy attack was perfectly evidenced on their debut, 1979’s On, featuring a bevy of dynamite signature pieces like “Bad Indication,” “Stay in Time,” and “Full Moon Turn My Head Around.”  On’s wall-to-wall cavalcade of hooks was so potent it may as well have been a greatest hits album unto itself, and in another years time they delivered another knockout, Quick Turns.  Collectively, neither album generated a Top-40 entry, although “Stay in Time” did respectfully on regional radio outlets.  By 1983 it was over.

Short of sharing those two albums (were have been made available again) I at the very least have a couple of less common items, or quite frankly, bootlegs.  First is a live performance cut in-studio for WIBA, a Madison, WI FM station in May of ’80.  A small but appreciative crowd is present for fourteen right and tight tracks, including a preview of several songs that would comprise the Quick Turns LP.  You won’t find much deviation between O/B’s live and studio delivery of their repertoire, but Johnson’s intersong banter is amusing.

Next up is a collection of studio tracks I have insufficient amount of pertinent info on, but from what I’m able to glean it’s material that was intended for a third studio record, circa 1983.  The first half of these tunes were largely in keeping with the vibe of On and Turns, while the rest varies.  I can only offer these in a relatively meager birate.  Apologies in advance.  Ironically, Off Broadway reunited in the mid ’90s for a proper studio record, Fallin’ In, though the songs here don’t overlap.  Enjoy.

Live In The Studio 10/29/80, WIBA FM, Madison, WI –  MP3  or  FLAC
01 – Bad Indication
02 – Bad Girl 
03 – Bully Bully 
04 – Automatic 
05 – US Girls 
06 – Oh Boy! 
07 – Showdown 
08 – Quick Turns 
09 – Are You Alone 
10 – Boys Must Be Strong 
11 – Eddie’s Pals 
12 – Stay In Time 
13 – Hang On For Love 
14 – Full Moon Turn My Head Around

Unreleased (1983?)  MP3
01. 1, 2, 3
02. Everybody Loves A Winner
03. My Soul
04. Take a Holiday
05. Any Kind of Love
06. Getting There is Half the Fun
07. instrumental
08. Battle of the Bands
09. Bring on the Band
10. Hello Aloha
11. Lifeline
12. You’ve Got Style

Articles Origin: Off Broadway (USA) – Live in studio 1980, and unreleased.

Cheap Trick – One on One and Next Position Please session outtakes, alt versions (1982-83)

I’m going to go out on a limb here are say something that many of you may find to the contrary, yet I know in my heart of hearts I’m correct.  Cheap Trick haven’t made a great, thoroughly consistent album since roughly 1983.  I said it, and I’m sticking by that assertion.  Then again some critics would go as far to say that the band started to lose it all the way back to the Dream Policeera.

It didn’t help that the follow-up to Dream Police, the ill fated, George Martin-produced All Shook Up, was an unmemorable and unrepresentative misstep, but Robin Zander and the boys recovered on their sixth and seventh platters One on Oneand Next Position Please.  Granted, neither of those records saw the band regaining their once idiosyncratic footing of their initial trifecta of masterpieces (Cheap Trick, In Color and Heaven Tonight), but One on One, and especially the Todd Rundgren commandeered Next Position… proved to genuinely satisfying pop-rock jewels, that at their infrequent worst were a tad frivolous.  Even more remarkably, the band cut these disks without the involvement of longtime bassist Tom Peterson.  

Amidst this 21-song set of alternate takes and works-in-progress for the aforementioned 1982/83 disks, we don’t get to hear variations of some of their best songs from this era – “She’s Tight,” “I Can’t Take It,” and “Next Position Please” to name a few which are sadly AWOL here.  What we are treated to are refreshingly raw romps through equally stimulating salvos like “Lookin’ Out for Number One,” “Love’s Got a Hold On Me,” and “You Talk Too Much.” Other cuts are represented in their instrumental versions (“Play By the Rules,” “Invaders of the Heart”).  Fun, but it helps to familiarize yourself with the album versions first if you haven’t done so already.  There are no less than three distinctive versions of Trick’s power ballad “If You Want My Love,” plus an outtake of “I Want Be Man.”  If you recall, the vocals on that particular One on Onemonstrosity were gratingly mechanized, but on this alternate incarnation, not to so much.  The entirely unreleased “Fool Yourself,” vaguely angles back to their earlier stuff, and we even get another exclusive number in the guise of “Tell Me What to Do.”

An enormous amount can be said about Cheap Trick’s post-Next Position Please era, the vast majority of which is quite unflattering, at least speaking in terms of recorded material.  They hit a colossal low in 1987 with Lap of Luxury, the album that generated the fluffy, antiseptic monster ballad, “The Flame.” It would be another twenty years for them to approach anything resembling greatness.  For what it’s worth, their 2006 set, Rockfordis deserving of any Trick fan’s time and dinero.

One on One-era:
Fool Yourself/I Want be Man/I Want You/If You Want My Love (three vers)/I’m Hot (inst)/Looking Out For Number One/Oh La La/Saturday at Midnight (two vers)/Tell Me What to Do/Twisted Heart/Whatcha Gonna Do About It/Your Love’s Got a Hold on Me

Next Position Please
Don’t Hit Me With Love/Don’t Make Our Love a Crime/Invaders of the Heart (inst)/Play By the Rules/Y.O.Y.O.Y./You Talk Too Much

Articles Origin: Cheap Trick – One on One and Next Position Please session outtakes, alt versions (1982-83)

Hüsker Dü – Celebrated Summer Winter Pt. 2: radio interviews, Candy Apple Grey demos, and unavailable b-sides.

Hope you’re enjoying a happy and heart second night of the festival of lights.  Last night we partook in a couple of primo Hüsker concerts, shrouding ourselves in the full bore roar of Minneapolis unlikely geniuses.  Now it’s time to cut a beeline to the studio…and believe it or not, the phone lines.

Chances are Bob, Grant and Greg partook in scores of phone and live-to-air left-of-the-radio station interviews, but the number of which that were captured on tape from those keeping score at home may only number in the low dozens, if that.  Submitted for your approval are two fairly complete exchanges, which to a certain extent may not count as fully representative considering Bob was the only party involved.   The briefer of these two conversations, the May ’85 WREK interview is probably ranks as merely good, where as the one conducted with Minneapolis community outlet, KFAI is far more insightful.  There are two reasons for this.  First, Bob himself fields a bevy of unscreened questions from locally call-in listeners.  Secondly, in this comparatively docile context, you get a better understanding of the man himself who is extricated from the stage and his trio’s attendant concussive maelstrom.  No egos or airs in the least on his end, and he even engages the DJ regarding his affinity for professional wrestling.  In the interview portion of the download, you’ll also find a Bob Mould soundcheck, which was contributed to Vol. 10 of the Tellus cassette zine, circa 1985.  Today, we would likely refer to such an endeavor as a podcast, but I digress.

Next up, the demos for H/D’s major label debut Candy Apple Grey may not exude any out-and-out revelations, but anything unreleased by these guys, even if they are just in-progress incarnations, will no doubt fascinate die-hard acolytes.  Many tracks appear in rough, instrumental sketches, whereas “Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely” and “Dead Set on Destruction” are reasonable blueprints for what would become the finished versions.  We’re even treated to some thoroughly unreleased cuts that never made it past the demo stage – “Misty Modern Days” and “Just Be,” which granted, are instrumentals – but that latter one kinda cranks.

And finally, I’ve cobbled together the vast majority of Hüsker Dü’s Warner Bros era flipsides.  Like it or not, every band has ’em, and if anything else the band knew what songs to prioritize for the album.  Unbeknownst to a lot of fans, the band would occasionally preform acoustic, and we’re treated to live, stripped down takes of the typically shredding “Celebrated Summer” and “Flexible Flyer,” from a 1986 Hollywood Roxy show.  “Fattie” is an imposing, Metal Machine Music style piece, the lengthy and underwritten “All Work and No Play” is a strangely alluring slice of naval-gazing rock, while the sprite basher, “Everytime” features the lead vocals of none other than bassist Greg Norton!

A big round of applause goes out to any and all of you that hooked me up with much of this material, in some cases decades ago.  And on behalf of a grateful nation, let’s all thank the original three architects of these wondrous and timeless songs.  R.I.P. Grant Hart.

Interviews – MP3  or  FLAC
WREK Atlanta, 5/29/85
KFAI Minneapolis, Jan. 1986
Bob Mould 1985 soundcheck on Tellus #10 cassette zine

Candy Apple Grey demos – MP3  or  FLAC
01. Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely
02. Crystal (instrumental)
03. Sorry Somehow
04. I Don’t Know For Sure (instrumental)
05. Hardly Getting Over It
06. All Work And No Play (instrumental)
07. Dead Set On Destruction
08. Eiffel Tower High
09. Misty Modern Day (instrumental)
10. All This I’ve Done For You
11. Just Be (instrumental)
12. Hardly Getting Over It (instrumental)
13. I Don’t Know For Sure (mix)

B-sides (1986-87)  MP3
01. All Work And No Play (b-side, Don’t Want to Know…)
02. Helter Skelter (b-side, Don’t Want to Know…)
03. Celebrated Summer [Live Acoustic] (b-side, Sorry Somehow)
04. Flexible Flier [Live Acoustic] (b-side, Sorry Somehow)
05. Fattie
06. Everytime (b-side, Could You Be the One?)
07. Gotta Lotta (b-side, Ice Cold Ice)
08. Christmas Greetings (We Wish You A Merry Christmas) (WB promo cassette)

Articles Origin: Hüsker Dü – Celebrated Summer Winter Pt. 2: radio interviews, Candy Apple Grey demos, and unavailable b-sides.

Hüsker Dü – Celebrated Summer Winter Pt. 1: Live 1982/85 and more.

Witnessing the video for Hüsker Dü’s “Makes No Sense At All”/”Love is All Around” on 120 Minutes in the fall of 1989, was the most visceral four-minute sales pitch I encountered in my entire life.  Maybe it didn’t alter the ground I was standing on, so to speak, but it placed me on an exciting new trajectory that would lead to the discovery of literally hundreds of other artists with similar ideals and templates, not to mention the universe of indie rock in general.  Indirectly, my acquaintanceship with Bob Mould, Grant Hart and Greg Norton led to personal friendships, and even got me into the tape trading thing (remember that?).  Yes, that one fateful video (which from my vantage point might as well have been filmed on a home camcorder) made ripples that sill reverberate to this day.  “Who were these guys?” I thought to myself at the time.  Why the hell were they wearing street clothes?  SST Records?  Never heard of them.  And for God’s sake, I thought Flying V Gibsons were exclusively the province of hair farmers like Poison. 

Being stuck in a small town in the ’80s and early ’90s finding indie titles invariably entailed mail-ordering.  So, while I was patiently awaiting a clutch of Hüsker tapes and records from SST, I investigated their Warner Bros releases, beginning with the sprawling Warehouse: Songs and Stories double album.  It may not have had quite the same velocity as say, Metal Circus, but I was bowled over nonetheless with the band’s dual delivery system of profound melodic structures and unyielding swift tempos (that of course, ebbed appropriately on ballads like “No Reservations”).  In 1990 I accumulated their catalog in short order, and absorbed it meticulously, song-by-song.  And in that very same year I was even treated to Bob Mould’s subdued Workbook.  Around this time I put my feelers out there for any other Dü-rights like myself, and fortunately I wasn’t alone in the world.
debut solo record,

Despite their breakup, not much earlier than my discovery of them they would soon become my go-to band of choice.  To paraphrase the great Michael Azerrad in his tome Our Band Could Be Your Life, Hüsker Dü were the kind of band you could hang your hat on.  Not so much in terms of political philosophy mind you, but the little trio from Minneapolis that could spouted a wellspring of truisms and empathetic sentiments on matters ranging from romance to society.  And the tangled latticework of feedback, hooks and then some which accompanied it was nothing short of flabbergasting.  While not always adequately acknowledged during their existence, the group has been canonized and immensely revered post their early-1988 breakup.

Ironically, 2017 turned out to be one of Hüsker Dü’s most relevant years ever, even if all three participants hadn’t been in the same room together for a solid three decades.  Tragically, and surprisingly to many fans, drummer/mouthpiece/co-songwriter Grant Hart passed away from cancer on September 13.  And roughly two months thereafter saw the arrival of Savage Young Du, an artfully and painstakingly crafted multi-disk box set featured mostly unreleased archival live and studio material culled from the earliest years of their tenure.  A remastered version of their first studio full length, Everything Falls Apart was also included.

Over the course of the first two nights of Chanukah, I’m going to feature a slim archival trove of my own.  The bulk of the first installment concerns two complete live sets.  Hüsker Dü’s December 28, 1982 performance in Tuscon, AZ was thoughtfully captured on tape, and bootlegged multiple times under the moniker of Ultracore.  This rip wasn’t taken from that often shady sounding piece of wax, rather another source tape.  The gig in question finds the fab three on the threshold of a more melodic modus operandi, while still keeping the breakneck thrust of their nascent years intact.  The crowd is treated to numerous songs from the thenforthcoming and soon-to-be seminal ep Metal Circus.  An absolute and utter scorcher.

I’ve never attended a Hüsker Dü (nor will I) but I’m convinced they never gave a poor performance, save for any external circumstances beyond their control.  By the time of this May 1985 gig in Toronto, the band was at the apex of their playing and songwriting aptitude, having paid their dues at pretty every notable punk squat/dive in the country.  They were on the verge of graduating to larger venues, not to mention a considerably more sizable record label.  I would peg this show as having occurred between the New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig records, as the setlist draws heavily from both.  This is logical given Hüsker Dü’s notorious penchant for previewing future album material in concert.  Audio quality is a little too bass-y for my tastes, but overall an above satisfactory audience tape at the height of their creative peak.

I’m including a third “mystery” file, that you’ll just have to download to reveal its nature. Cool?  Thought so.  Tune in tomorrow evening for the second tranche of Hüsker goodies.  Links and tracklists are as follows.

Backstage, Tuscon AZ 12-28-82  MP3  or FLAC

In a Free Land/Target/What Do I Want?/M.I.C./From the Gut/Blah Blah Blah/Wheels/Everything Falls Apart/It’s Not Funny/Real World/Standing by the Sea/Deadly Skies/Out on a Limb/Bricklayer/Tired of Doing Things/Afraid of Being Wrong/Strange Week/Big Sky/Ultracore/Let’s Go Die/Data Control/Sunshine Superman/Statues/Punch Drunk 

Larry’s Hideaway, Toronto ON, 5/2/85  MP3  or  FLAC
New Day Rising/It’s Not Funny Any More/Everything Falls Apart/The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill/I Apologize/If I told you/Folklore/Every Everything/Makes no Sense at All/Keep Hanging On/Find Me/Terms Of Psychic Warfare/Powerline/Books About UFOs/Chartered Trips/Diane/Hate Paper Doll/Green Eyes/Divide and Conquer/Eight Miles High/Ticket to Ride/Pink Turns to Blue/Recurring Dreams~The Wit And The Wisdom~Recurring Dreams/Love is All Around

Mystery bonusMP3  or  FLAC

Articles Origin: Hüsker Dü – Celebrated Summer Winter Pt. 1: Live 1982/85 and more.

Watching the candles burn…BFD uploads a ‘comin Tuesday evening for Chanukah 2017.

Let’s face it.  Content-wise I haven’t given you as much this year as I typically do.  There are myriad reasons for this – chronic procrastination, overtime at the office, depression ruts, fatigue, and of course, good old fashioned laziness.  But beginning this Tuesday evening for one week and one day, all will be right and proper with the universe.

In what has become an annual tradition on Wilfully Obscure (not to mention the ever increasing bane of my sanity) I’ll be rolling out extra special, super duper entries over the week of Chanukah.   Beginning in 2012, I decided to spread the goodies out over the eight nights of Chanukah (check out the preliminary details for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.  This made sense on a couple of levels.  For one, it gives me a convenient excuse to share several mind-blowing “gifts” instead of just one biggie on Christmas.  Secondly, Chanukah represents personal relevance to me.  We all know you were envious of that boy down the block who had a yarmulke festooned to his head, who was given the privilege of lighting the menorah, and of course, reveling in eight glorious nights of presents.  Once again, I’m paying it forward.  Previous Chanukah entries have featured Wire, Velocity Girl, Jellyfish, The Pursuit of Happiness and Redd Kross, but name recognition is not hardly a guarantee.  As in past years, there will definitely be familiar faces, but also several participants that have never garnered face-time on W/O.

At the top of each Chanukah upload will be a thumbnail photo of a menorah, with the appropriate number of lit candles to denote each succeeding evening until all eight slots in the candelabra are occupied on the concluding night, December 19th.

All of this begs the question, “Has Wilfully Obscure been holding out on us for the last 11 months?”  Somewhat…but not quite.  In short, the presents I plan on revealing over the eight nights of Chanukah are of considerably high caliber.  I like to think that everything I share qualifies as good to excellent, but to paraphrase that sage Orwellian dictum, some are more equal than others.

A few housekeeping tidbits to be bear in mind.

  • I was originally planning a big fat opening night, but decided it would be too overwhelming…so I’ll partition it out across this Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.  No worries though, as I’m certain you’ll be Düly rewarded.
  • No box sets this year.  Ain’t going there.  Maybe next time.
  • If I can offer files in FLAC (in addition to standard MP3) I will.  If I don’t post a FLAC download link for a certain title you can assume it’s not available in that format.
  • Mystery Monday will be active this week as usual, but not next Mon (Dec. 18).

Come around sundown this Tuesday, and as always, download responsibly.

Articles Origin: Watching the candles burn…BFD uploads a ‘comin Tuesday evening for Chanukah 2017.