Thursday, September 24, 2009

Re-upped: $27 Snap On Face - Heterodyne State Hospital (1977)

Sonoma County weirdos, $27 Snap On Face, rank among the strangest of west coast cult acts from the 70's. Formed sometime early in the decade by guitarist Bob O'Connor and vocalist David Petri, the lineup was soon complete with the addition of bassist Steve Nelson, guitarist Jim Doherty, keyboardist Frank Walburg and drummer Ron Ingalsbe. Almost immediately, O'Connor and Petri knew they wanted to create something truly bizarre. Though the other members were resistant at first, soon the band were making waves in Sebastopol and its surrounding cities. With over the top performance art integrated into their shows, the band seemed destined for cult status from the get go. The band's history goes blurry from this point onward, though I am aware of at least one single issued in 1975, prior to the "Heterodyne State Hospital" album.

As for this album, well, let's just say it's an acquired taste. Some get it and others don't. I suppose I'm with the latter, though I can appreciate the band's desire to do something unusual. With Zappa flourishes penetrating the music presented here, the album comes across like an inside joke that only a select few were intended to understand. This being said, the listener might often feel a bit alienated by the material here. Sounding like an early Frisco hippie act fronted by Frank Zappa, the focus here is sublime and not so much about musicality as it is lyrical content. The band self-issued 1,000 copies of the album in 1977, though it sounds like it may have been recorded considerably earlier. The band continued for a short time, doing mostly union gigs in the Sonoma County area before eventually calling it a day. O'Connor now lives in Hawaii, Petri is a realtor in Cobb, Walburg runs a vacation community in Santa Rosa and Ingalsbe's whereabouts are unknown. Doherty passed away in 1993.

If weird cult bands are your thing, then you'll surely find something to love about $27 Snap On Face. This elusive piece of west coast psychedelic is, if anything, something you're not likely to ever forget. Enjoy this re-up from 'Gumby'!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bad Boy - Back To Back (1978)

Back again with another entry from Milwaukee's very own Bad Boy. "Back To Back" was the band's final effort for United Artists Records, released in 1978. The album spawned no singles and failed to chart, prompting the label to opt out of extending the band's contract. The band continued playing the midwest for a number of years before finally fizzling in the late 80's. With the imminent release of a greatest hits album in 1998, the band reunited and has been recording and performing ever since.

"Back To Back" is an improvement over the band's debut, featuring more focused songwriting, a harder sound and more direct melodic hooks. "Back To Back" also marks the band's first foray into power pop, a style that would be fully explored on their follow up release, "Private Party". Though there are a handful of somewhat pedestrian cuts, there are some equally compelling tracks to offset them. "It's Alright" is a powerful opening track, with a sound reminiscent of early Trooper. "Always Come Back To You" and "Accidental" are both brimming with hooks lifted from the Raspberries songbook. "No Stopping Me Now" is easily the heaviest track here, with a sleazy guitar tone to die for. All in all, this is a satisfying listen, especially for Bad Boy fans.

Dig this killer 1st gen vinyl rip, de-clicked and EQ'd for maximum effect. You'll be pressed to find a better transfer anywhere else, folks!


Friday, September 11, 2009

New Blog!

Be sure to drop in and visit my second blog, Planet Powerpop. If you're a lover of huge hooks and Beatlesque melodies, I'm sure you'll find something to love there. I'll continue blogging here, in addition to the new blog. Eat it up!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bad Boy - Girl On The Run (1986)

Bad Boy's fourth release came in the form of "Girl On The Run", a five song EP released in 1986. The band opted to release the record on their own label, Legend Records. With the limited distribution that is typical of indie labels, the album failed to launch the band back into the mainstream but it was well-received in parts of the midwest. Over the next few years the band slowly began winding down, as members defected to other area bands and solo projects. In 1998, the band reunited and has been performing locally ever since.

"Girl On The Run" is quite a departure from the band's 70's output, with a strong AOR slant full of embellishments like saxophones and keyboards. The band's grit has been replaced by a slick sheen that was very common for the times. The album's title track is clearly the standout here, though "Hypnotize" and "She Can Drive You Crazy" are also fantastic. Unfortunately, the two remaining tracks fall flat. "Midnight Love" lacks a strong hook and "The Longest Night" comes off sounding very formulaic and stiff. Overall, this is a worthy effort and a fine addition to the Bad Boy musical legacy.

This EP is extremely rare and usually quite expensive whenever it surfaces online. Check out this fantastic vinyl rip I've done and get hip to some rare Milwaukee AOR. You'll dig it.