Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hoboken To Athens (Vol. 2 of 3)

Our pal Kevinpat returns with another sermon from the three-volume gospels known as 'Hoboken to Athens.' For those in Germany, the UK and across North America who have already received this manna from the heavens, raise your hands in the air to praise the man and his masterpiece once more for you already know the truth that lies therein. For the uninitiated who didn't have the faith, courage or whatever it was that held you back from the joyous tidings found in volume one, there's still time for redemption.

Step up to the pulpit with nothing but love for the dB's and the Bongos in your heart. Can I get an amen? Send requests for 'Hoboken to Athens' to lineartrackinglives@gmail.com. All Kevinpat needs is your name and mailing address. Spreading the word of Stipe is his true calling. Take it away, Kevinpat...

There are those times you wish you could back and relive or perhaps even have a do over. After I purchased R.E.M.'s 'Chronic Town' through the mail I knew this was a band to be reckoned with. The cryptic lyrics, the moody tempos belying the ringing guitars, and the hooks. Oh, the hooks. All just a wonderful mess. I thought I had a secret on the world.

My buddy and I were fortunate to witness R.E.M. at a small club in Poughkeepsie after this release. Remarkable not only because we now had verification there really did exist such a wonderful sound, but this was like an Athens baptism. Opening for R.E.M. was Let's Active. My buddy was introduced to Big Star that night when they played "Back of My Car". We were so anxious for the show we had gotten to the club early and had a beer at the bar. Michael Stipe sat next to me, but I didn't have enough beer yet to approach. Perhaps true to his persona he stared into his beer. Damn!

But a different character came out on the stage. Thrashing and swaying and gyrating to the tangling Peter Buck guitar and singing so close to the mic not a word could be deciphered or deStipered? Ironically they performed Pylon's "Crazy", which may or may not have been written about Stipe. Mike Mills, looking all but too young to even be in a bar highlighted the singing with harmony in counter rhythm. All just a wonderful mess. I want to go back. Not just to relive the show or to perhaps chatter with Stipe, but to remember the music better.

I stayed with R.E.M. until the end, long after my friends couldn't stand the Stipe anymore. My younger son had to hear "The Great Beyond" every morning in the car on his way to daycare before school. My attempts to learn the piano failed a number of times, so I never got the chance to play "Nightswimming". And although R.E.M. may be the most known example of the Hoboken-Athens sound, they certainly singularly aren't the Hoboken-Athens sound.

Evidence: Volume Two, 'Hoboken To Athens', where the sound gets a little more produced but the results no less glorious. A perfect example being the Bongos 'Number With Wings' EP. Being a lover of southern American literature, Guadalcanal Diary is William Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor with a mighty beat. Old Testament mysticism. The throb of Pylon and the sultry charm of the Cyclones. Even a Brit, Kimberly Rew shows up to play with the Athens boys. R.E.M. lets their Patti Smith fly on "Pretty Persuasion." Song selections and sequence were chosen for maximum segue punch. To be played through. Preferably loud. And in the car. So don't be no Limburger, giddy up and take the leap now! 'Hoboken To Athens', Volume Two...

'Hoboken To Athens' (Vol. Two):
1. "Wolves, Lower" - R.E.M. (from 'Chronic Town')
2. "We Were Happy There" - The Dbs (from 'Repercussions')
3. "My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long" - Kimberly Rew (from 'The Bible of Bop')
4. "Let's See the Sun" - The Fleshtones (from 'Roman Gods')
5. "In the Congo" - The Bongos (from 'Drums Along the Hudson')
6. "Watusi Rodeo" - Guadalcanal Diary (from 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man')
7. "Beep - Pylon (dB single)
8. "Make Up With Me" - Let's Active (from 'afoot' EP)
9. "I'm in Heaven" - The Cyclones (from 'The Cyclones' EP)
10. "Leap of Faith" - The Individuals (from 'The Individuals')
11. "Make A Fool Out of Me" - The Windbreakers (from 'Any Monkey With a Typewriter')
12. "I Don't Want To Go Back" - The Riff Doctors (Coyote 45)
13. "House on Fire" - The Wind (from 'Ghost of the Staph')
14. "Trail of Tears" - Guadalcanal Diary (from 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man')
15. "Barbarella" - The Bongos (from 'Numbers With Wings' EP)
16. "Pretty Persuasion" - R.E.M. (from 'Reckoning')
17. "Crazy" - Pylon (dB 45)
18. "Dance This Mess Around" - The B52s (from 'The B52s')
19. "Giddy Up" - Oh OK (from 'Furthermore' EP)
20. "Rang-A-Tang" - Method Actors (Press Record 45)
21. "Tight Turn" - The Raybeats (from 'Guitar Beat')
22. "In Spain" - The dBs (from 'Repercussions')
23. "Easy Does" - Let's Active (from 'Cypress')
24. "Who Betrays Me" - The Cucumbers (from 'Who Betrays Me... and Other Happier Songs')
25. "Christmas" - Buzz of Delight (from 'Buzz of Delight' EP)
26. "The Bullrushes" - The Bongos (from 'Drums Along the Hudson')


TheRobster said...

I was going to drop you an email Kev about these discs you so kindly sent. I still will, but I do want to say that the Cyclones track was my fave track of all those I didn't already know. What. A. Track. Wondered how they'd passed me by, but then found out they only ever released two singles and that was that.

Love your recounting of that R.E.M. show. I only wish I could have been there, except I would have been 11 years old and it was thousands of miles away.........

Brian said...

Hey Robster. I told Kevin the same thing about that show. Bragging rights for life with that one. I didn't discover R.E.M. until late '83 when they played Radio Free Europe on Late Night With David Letterman. I was only 13 and wasn't allowed to stay up, but I had started recording the show on the VCR every night. Too bad I used the same tape over and over. There were some great bands on the show during that time period.

The Swede said...

More guitar-slinging wonderfulness Kevinpat. The ratio of 'stuff I recognise' to 'why don't I know this' is slightly higher on Volume 2, though much of it I haven't heard for many-a long year. Your REM/Let's Active gig story makes me want to jump in the nearest available time machine. Funnily enough, 20-odd years after the events in your tale, I too found myself standing next to Michael Stipe, at the bar of an Undertow Orchestra gig in New York. My mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out. He must get that a lot.
I saw Kimberly Rew at a Robyn Hitchcock gig just a few months ago, when he joined Robyn for a short Soft Boys themed set. Grown men wept. Well this one did anyway.

Dirk said...

I'm one of the lucky few who already have those CD's in their hands - thanks again, Kev - and I can recommend them without reservation, so do approach Kev and save yourself a copy!

kevinpat said...

I'm so glad to have found some compadres who can love on this scene!

Robster ~ (Dang. Spellcheck keeps changing your name to Lobster. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock Lobster!!) It's a shame that the Cyclones only put out the single and the ep. I read that singer Donna Esposito took ill and was MIA for a long time. She does show up again though with more sweetness in the H2A addendum....... If there is interest maybe Brian and I can put out the whole ep & 2 single sides.

The Swede ~ It might be something about Stipe that makes him unapproachable. Especially in the early days. Y'no that poseur thing, be mysterious & aloof. We could probably do a whole post on meeting rock musician and their responses. I can't believe you mentioned Robyn Hitchcock!! I've been a big fan forever and I am going to see him Saturday at Daryl's (Hall) Place, a small club. My Soft Boys right there with H2A.

Dirk!! ~ Wow. I'm so glad you enjoy it. I'm so glad to have shared it with you. Loud and in the car!!

Brian ~ Thanks for letting me bang all this out!!!!

TheRobster said...

LOL! That should be my new name - Rock Robster! Love it! And I should point out my personal choice of listening to these CDs (and because I knew it was my best chance of getting through them all) was in the car!

I'd also like to express my interest in the complete Cyclones discography (all 6 tracks of it!) if you or Brian are willing to post it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with everybody else here. I adore Chronic Town.
Swiss Adam

McPop said...

Hey fellas,
I'm still catching up on posts so sorry for late comment. I love this 3-disc set! It's a soundtrack to my high school and college years when I started my obsession with bands like REM, Guadalcanal Diary, dB's, Let's Active, and Feelies and later on I discovered Windbreakers, Bongos, among others. I'm really digging some of the lesser known stuff you included such as that aces Riff Doctors tune! Thanks again kevinpat for sharing this awesome comp with all of us and thanks Brian for spreading the word.

Brian said...

McPop, We fell in love with all of the same bands. I'm loving this set too.