(Upcoming Release) New West Records Reissues Seminal Pylon Albums and Limited Pylon Box Out 11/6/2020 – A deeper dive

Pylon Box – Colored vinyl version limited to 500 out 11/6

On August 26th, New West Records announced that they will be reissuing the first two Pylon albums as well as an extensive box set with the two albums, an LP of extras and an LP called “Razz Tape” of a recording that pre-dates the albums along with a gorgeous 200-page hardbound book.

For the uninitiated, Pylon was a band from Athens, GA that started in the late 70’s by some art school students at the University of Georgia. For context in the larger history of Athens bands, they’re post-B-52’s and contemporaries of R.E.M. Their distinctively angular and beat-heavy sound would be described as post-punk and follows a path blazed by New York City bands like Talking Heads and Television.

The first phase of their career started in 1978 and after two albums on the now-defunct label DB Recs Gyrate and Chomp and enjoying some well-deserved exposure supporting bands like R.E.M. U2 and Mission of Burma on tours, they split up in late 1983.

Pylon would have just been a footnote in the history of the Athens music scene if it hadn’t been for the 1987 documentary “Athens, GA Inside/Out” which turned leagues of R.E.M. fans like myself on to the band. R.E.M. also recorded a cover of the Pylon song “Crazy” and released it as a b-side to “Driver 8” and it was the first track on Dead Letter Office, a collection of outtakes and b-sides. Peter Buck said in the liner notes, “I remember hearing their version on the radio the day that Chronic Town came out and being suddenly depressed by how much better it was than our record.”

The jittery energy of the live version of “Stop It!” with the militant growled vocals by Vanessa Hey was like nothing I’d ever heard before and even though it was the R.E.M. songs that drew me to the film and soundtrack, it was the Pylon track that ended up being my favorite part of that soundtrack. (Honestly, I always kind of felt like R.E.M. sort of phoned in their contribution with that Everly Brothers cover…)

Pylon reunited and in 1989 released a compilation called Hits which had notable tracks from the two albums as well as some tracks from singles. In 1990 they released another studio album Chain.on Sky Records. They went on tour with R.E.M. and then split up again in 1991. The band reunited for shows sporadically over the years that followed until they finally broke up for good after guitarist Randy Bewley passed away in 2009. Vanessa Briscoe Hay fronts a Pylon tribute band “Pylon Reenactment Society” along with members of other area bands and have even recorded a couple new songs.

In 2007 DFA Records, owned by Tim Goldsworthy of UNKLE and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem reissued Chomp and Gyrate on CD with bonus tracks . Titled Gyrate Plus and Chomp More, they went immediately out-of-print and the CD’s are now super-expensive in the secondary market. So, clearly there is demand for this catalog to be reissued again.

For Black Friday Record Store Day in 2019, New West Records sort of tipped their hand in the matter by reissuing Pylon’s debut single “Cool”/”Dub.” I reached out to the label about whether they were going to reissue the albums and at the time they confirmed it, but weren’t going to announce anything for a few months. Then COVID happened which messed up record manufacturing, so I’m guessing that’s why the announcement happened much later for the albums and the box set.

The box set comes in two versions, black vinyl and a limited-to-500 colored vinyl version. Four 140g LP’s include new remasters of Gyrate and Chomp, an LP of Extras which include singles, b-sides and other rarities, and Razz Tape, which is a recording of the band which pre-dates their 1979 debut single recorded in their practice space by Chris Razz. 47 tracks total with 18 of them unreleased.

Since they aren’t also reissuing the 1989 compilation Hits which also included some non-album tracks and there were extra tracks on the DFA releases, how do the tracks compare and what are we missing with the box set?

We’ve seen “Cool,” “Dub,” “Crazy” single mix and the “Danger!!” remix from the !! import EP on Hits and the DFA reissues as I indicate below. We have two completely new songs “Untitled” and “3×3” plus a couple of new mixes of “Danger III” and “Spiders.” Not to mention all of the new versions and tracks on the Chris Razz tape.

Notably missing are some tracks included on the DFA reissues. “Crazy (Original Version)” on the Chomp More reissue seems to also be referred to as the single version. “Yo-Yo (Pylon Mix)” or “Male version” (it has slowed-down versions of the vocals) and “Gyrate (Pylon Mix) are two versions that were recorded during the tracks that were recorded at Mitch Easter’s Drive-In, but the versions that were used on the album came from the sessions at Channel One. We’re also missing the 6-minute version of “Beep” that is called “Four Minutes.”

Interestingly, “Functionality” was listed on the Gyrate Plus reissue as a “Studio Demo.” But the liner notes say it was recorded in 1979 in their practice space in Athens, GA, so that is from the Razz tape.

Here are all the tracks for the boxset and the breakdown of where the Extras have been released before:

Gyrate LP

  1. Volume 04:13
  2. Feast On My Heart 03:35
  3. Precaution 02:48
  4. Weather Radio 02:16
  5. The Human Body 03:11
  6. Read A Book 02:02
  7. Driving School 03:53
  8. Gravity 02:37
  9. Danger 05:38
  10. Working Is No Problem 03:29
  11. Stop It 03:06

Chomp LP

  1. K 04:32
  2. Yo-Yo 04:14
  3. Beep 03:23
  4. Italian Movie Theme 02:01
  5. Crazy 03:13
  6. M-Train 03:48
  7. Buzz 02:58
  8. No Clocks 02:57
  9. Reptiles 03:56
  10. Spider 03:58
  11. Gyrate 04:06
  12. Altitude 03:19

Extras LP

  1. Untitled – New track
  2. Cool – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
  3. Dub – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
  4. Recent Title – from Hits
  5. Danger!! (Danger Remix) – from !! EP also Gyrate Plus
  6. Crazy (Single Mix) – from “Crazy” single and Hits and probably Chomp More.
  7. Reptiles (Channel One Version) – New version
  8. No Clocks (Channel One Version) – New version
  9. Spider (Alternative Mix) – New version
  10. 3 x 3 (Live) 02:19 – New track
  11. Danger III (Live) – New track

Razz Tape LP – all new tracks except “Functionality”

  1. The Human Body 03:08
  2. Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 1)
  3. Read A Book (Instrumental)
  4. Working Is No Problem
  5. Precaution
  6. Cool
  7. Functionality – from Gyrate Plus
  8. Efficiency
  9. Information
  10. Dub
  11. Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 2)
  12. Danger
  13. Feast On My Heart (Working Version)

Pre-order the box set from New West Records HERE or at their Bandcamp site (where you can stream some of the tracks).

(Upcoming Release) Seminal Athens, GA Band Pylon is BACK with Live Album Out July 25, 2016

Pylon - Live

By the time I first heard Pylon, they had already broken up.  They were featured prominently in the documentary film Athens, GA: Inside Out and its associated sountrack on IRS Records. I bought the soundtrack first– I had heard that R.E.M. had a couple of songs on it, so the completist I was, I needed to own the soundtrack.. The R.E.M. songs were good, and the band I had at the time did a similar version of “Swan Swan H” though we couldn’t really tackle the harmonies of “(All I’ve Got To Do is) Dream.”

But, the real eye-opener was all of the other unknown bands on the album. I really loved Love Tractor, and to this day is still one of my favorites, and The Squalls, and Dreams So Real (who were swept up by a major and then lost forever). I wasn’t sure what to make of the dissonant and angular music of Pylon, whose live version of “Stop It” was kind of the centerpiece of the soundtrack. It wasn’t until I finally saw the film on VHS that I really understood that Pylon was one of the early bands in the scene and all of the other bands really looked up to them, including my heroes R.E.M., who covered “Crazy” which was included in the odds-n-sods compilation Dead Letter Office. I started college later in 1987, and found friends who were really into the Athens scene and I borrowed the two albums Chomp and Gyrate and made a tape of them and was quickly a fan.

The band broke up because they were tired of the pressures that come with a band that was rising from obscurity. In 1990, seemingly out of nowhere the band was back. In an interview with Perfect Sound Forever, they said that they realized that interest in the band wouldn’t die, and they were all still living in Athens, so they decided to reform. The put together a “greatest hits” of sorts called Hits, and then recorded a new album Chain in 1990. By that time, their unique sound wasn’t as leftfield as it was earlier. In fact, bands like The Sugarcubes probably owed a lot to the groundbreaking Pylon. But, they wouldn’t stay together for long after that.

Some time in 2004, the band reunited again and enjoyed notoriety spurred on by the CD reissue campaign of Chomp and Gyrate by DFA Records (now out-of-print again, and going for insane prices).  The band played shows and, I for one was happy they were back. The band broke up officially again in 2009, following the unexpected death of Randall Bewley.

So, in 2016 we have some developments in the Pylon camp.  In March it was announced that a 1980 performance at Danceteria by Pylon in the archives of Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong as part of the Nightclubbing TV show from NYC that captured the early days of Punk and New Wave. There were select screenings of the show with Q&A from the band. Then, in April the band announced a 7″ of live tracks from their last show in Athens, GA in 1983 at the Mad Hatter. This show was captured to video and multitrack audio for a pilot for a failed PBS series called Athens Shows.

It turns out that the 7″ was a taste of what was to come. On July 25th– Randal Bewley’s birthday– Pylon is releasing a 2 LP and digital download version of the last show in Athens titled simply PYLON LIVE. Pylon was a force to be reckoned with live and this album captures them at the peak of their powers with a setlist that picks the great tracks from the 2 LPs and drops in a couple of rarities. “Party Zone” was only available on a rare DB Recs compilation and Pylonized cover of the Batman TV theme with new lyrics.

The vinyl package comes in three different colors– 200 on magenta vinyl (which compliments the cover well) and 200 on clear vinyl. The rest are on black vinyl. The LP’s are a reasonable $29.99 plus about $5 shipping. The digital download is $8.99. If you pre-order, you get immediate download of “Volume.” Here it is in their Bandcamp player:

PYLON LIVE is available for pre-order at chunklet.com, chunklet.bandcamp.com, iTunes, Amazon, and wherever digital music is sold.

Limited to 200 on magenta vinyl.
Limited to 200 on clear vinyl.
Unlimited on black vinyl.
Track List:

SIDE A
Working is No Problem
Driving School
No Clocks
Altitude
Gravity

SIDE B
Crazy
K
Cool
Italian Movie Theme
Buzz

SIDE C
Danger
Reptiles
Stop It
Feast On My Heart
Beep

SIDE D
M Train
Volume
Weather Radio
Party Zone
Batman

New Album from Jack Logan Brings Lost Session with The Roach Brothers – Out 2/5

logan - joke front

The Roach Brothers aka Terry and Jamie Rouch have been part of the Jack Logan extended musical family for a long time, showing up on most of the releases that Jack has put out dating back to the monolithic and epic Bulk. Terry was a member of Jack’s band Liquor Cabinet and Jamie would drop some drums here and there and if the recordings happened at Big As A Barn Studios in Indiana, it was Jamie on the board. Jamie tragically passed in 2008, succumbing to ALS.

A couple of years ago while Jack was digging through a box of CDs, he found one labeled “Roach Bros. Inst.” which turned out to be backing tracks recorded in the 90’s intended for Jack’s vocals but never completed. Jack loaded them up on his trusty 4-track and laid some vocals on them. Satisfied with the results, he sent them over to Terry Rouch and posted a couple of tracks on his old website. Terry wanted to do a release of these songs as a tribute to his fallen brother. With some help from Matt Swisher of Failure Records and Tapes, he was able to do a small run of vinyl! In November, Jack announced the release on his new blog.

On Thursday, Jack announced from his blog that the vinyl is ready, and Failure is taking pre-orders for the vinyl due out February 5th and humorously titled What Is This.. Some Kind of Joke?, which is a limited-edition run of 300 multi-colored LPs. The first 50 orders will get Jack Logan buttons and stickers! The LP is $17 + shipping comes with a free digital download. You can also get the album as a digital download for $10 from Bandcamp.

What Is This… Some Kind of Joke? is a bit of departure from Logan’s last album, which was a collaboration with Scott Baxendale and members of The Drive-By Truckers titled Bones in the Desert. That album was closer to some of the label releases in that it was structured rock tunes with a focus on guitars. I think Bones is a good pairing with Mood Elevator. This new album is a lot more Lo-Fi experimental– a lot like some of the more outsider tracks on Bulk. You can check out the new album using the Bandcamp player below.

CLICK HERE to order the LP

CLICK HERE to order the digital download.

Visit the Jack Logan-Scott Baxendale Facebook Page to hear the tracks from the oft-overlooked Bones in the Desert. You can order it HERE.

B-Sides in the Bins #51 – Chicago 11/19 & 20, 2010

I was in Chicago the weekend of 11/19 to see DJ Shadow with Pigeon John at Park West. My friend Erik came along. Before the show we hit Laurie’s Planet of Sound. We both walked out with some good finds. Here are mine:

The Moody Blues – Caught Live + 5 (2 LP, London Records, 2 PS 690/1, 1977)($2.99) Kind of a controversial album in the Moodies catalog in that it was released without the band’s permission. The “Live” part was a concert recorded in December, 1969 at The Royal Albert Hall during the To Our Childrens Childrens Children tour. The band felt that it wasn’t a good performance. In fact, the album wasn’t available on CD for a very long time (it finally came out officially on CD in 1997) and I had paid to have a CD made from a cassette in the early days before commonly-owned burners! The article on Wikipedia expresses the opinion that London/Decca released this as a way to drive interest in the band’s 1978 album Octave which marked the swansong for the the classic second lineup of Hayward, Lodge, Pinder, Thomas, & Edge. The “+5” part was five unreleased studio tracks. The five tracks were actually recorded in 1967 and 1968. The two tracks from 1967 were actually recorded before Days of Future Past. The deluxe release of Days includes all five of these tracks in addition to some demos. These five tracks were also included on the 1987 CD Prelude along with some other b-sides. I had been watching for a clean copy of this album for a while. Clean vinyl and a good cover although notched. The cover art was designed by infamous graphic arts house Hipgnosis, whose work with Pink Floyd you might be familiar.

Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around (LP, Atco Records SD33-256, 1968)($7.99) Aside from some spine wear on the “unipak” sleeve, this record is in really great shape. The “unipak” sleeve is an interesting variation on the gatefold– the sleeve opens book-style like a gatefold, but the record pocket opens at the spine on the inside! Makes for a slightly difficult time re-sleeving the record, but interesting nonetheless. Last Time Around was the third and final release from Buffalo Springfield and was recorded after the band had effectively split up as a contract fulfillment. None of the tracks were recorded with the whole band present. All of that said, the album is still very good– not the consistent album that the 1966 self-titled release was, but still important if only for the Neil Young tracks, in my opinion. “I Am A Child” is still a great Young song.

New Order – Low-Life (LP, London/Factory R1 25289, 1985, 2009)($15.99) Still sealed in the used bin! This is the Rhino Records 180g reissue from 2009 of the classic third New Order album. Mastered by RTI. This is the first album from New Order I own on vinyl. I have a few 12″es, but never bought any full albums until this weekend. “The Perfect Kiss,” “Love Vigilantes,” and “Subculture” were the bigger songs from this release.

Dreams So Real – Rough Night in Jericho (LP, Arista Records AL-8555, 1988)($3.99) a radio station promo, apparently, based on the huge decal on the cover that has all of the press information. I bought this on CD when it came out based on the strength of the first single “Rough Night in Jericho” and the song they contributed to “Athens, GA Inside\Out” documentary, “Golden.” The album doesn’t sound like their Peter Buck-produced debut album or the song from the film– which had them sounding like a cross between R.E.M. and Echo and the Bunnymen. The producer of the album was bragging on the PR sticker that his goal was to have the album sound less like the regional sound of Athens, GA and more power pop. In fact, I think the album sounds a lot like The Outfield. The band had one more release on Arista before they were dropped from the label.

The Doors – 13 (LP, Elektra Records, EKS-74079, 1970)($5.99) In some respects this February 1970 compilation of The Doors has been on the back of my mind for a long time as one I wanted. This is the first Doors LP in my collection. 13 is the first of many compilations that would be released over the years by Electra of The Doors– arguably the cash cow of that catalog. It is an odd one in that it really isn’t much of a “Greatest Hits” for the band. It does include some of the bigger hit singles of the Doors– “Light My Fire,” “People Are Strange,” “Touch Me,” “Hello, I Love You,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Roadhouse Blues”, but also includes some other album tracks that the casual listener might not be familiar with. My dad borrowed this album from my mom’s sisters and taped it to reel-to-reel and played it a lot when I was growing up. The result of the familiarity with this compilation is that I had always been disappointed that tracks like “Wild Child,” “Land Ho,” and “You’re Lost Little Girl” were never included in the subsequent “Greatest Hits” compilations, including the first real Greatest Hits in 1980 that everyone seemed to own. The other interesting detail about this album is that it was released  before the band’s last album, so it is incomplete from a hits perspective since it is missing “L.A. Woman,” “Love Her Madly,” and “Riders on the Storm.” Throwing this on the turntable will be a time warp for me.

The Call – Let the Day Begin (LP, MCA Records MCA-6303, 1989)($2.99) I picked this up for Sherry who is kind of a fan of The Call. She saw The Call in concert in the Twin Cities some time in the 80’s.  When I find any Call in my digging, I try to pick them up. Prior to meeting Sherry, my only real exposure to The Call was through it’s singles and one cassette I picked up a long time ago, Into the Woods from 1987. Sadly, the Call’s catalog has been very neglected from a reissue standpoint and pretty much the entire catalog is out-of-print at this point. This album has the big single “Let the Day Begin” (“Here’s to the babies in the brand new world, heres to the beauty of the stars…”). It will be interesting to hear the rest of the record. Sadly, lead singer Michael Been passed away in August this year while on tour with his son and his band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Don Dixon – Romeo at Julliard (LP, Enigma Records ST-73243-1, 1987)($0.99) This was really a pretty big find at a super deal at $0.99! Truth be told, this is likely the same copy that was in the bins back when I visited in March and they reduced the price since then. It’s been on my Amazon wish list on CD for a very long time, actually. I’m a fan of Dixon’s work whether it is as producer (R.E.M.‘s early albums, Game Theory, Let’s Active) or as musician and songwriter (“Praying Mantis the notable “big hit.”). I had been meaning to pick this up since 1989 or so, believe it or not. I bought the live CD Chi-Town Budget Show, which was a live show that WXRT put on that had his wife– a notable musician in her own right– Marti Jones on it. The live show included some songs from this album, the fantastic “Heart in a Box,” “Your Sister Told Me,” “February Inginue,” “Cat Out of the Bag,” “Borrowed Time.” It’s time to get re-acquainted to Don’s back catalog. He returned to recording in 2006 with The Entire Combustible World in One Small Room to critical praise. Don Dixon Fun Fact: Dixon wrote and performed (with Marti Jones and members of Let’s Active) the song “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” for the movie “Heathers.”

10,000 Maniacs – In My Tribe (LP, Elektra E1-60738, 1987)(FREE) I got this from my friend Erik who had three copies of this. While I’ve owned 10,000 Maniacs on CD, I’ve never had any on LP. While In My Tribe is not the major label debut of 10,000 Maniacs, it is the album that first gained them national exposure and has the first big singles for the band– “Like the Weather” and “What’s The Matter Here.” It also has “Peace Train” which was also a single for the band, but Natalie Merchant had the song removed from subsequent CD releases after Cat Stevens  aka Yusuf Islam famously was interpreted to advocate the execution of Salmon Rushdie. This record also has Michael Stipe from R.E.M. on “A Campfire Song.”

I also picked up two of the DJ Shadow Handmade vinyl releases at the show that I’ll cover at a later time.



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