This episode was created to show off the many bands that are taking part in the Big Ska Gamble, a Kickstarter campaign to bring you a 7″ vinyl record subscription club of all ska bands. You get to hear 6 different songs from the six bands represented. These aren’t the songs that are going to be on the records that come out, but good representations of these excellent bands.
Check out the project at the Big Ska Gamble (http://www.BigSkaGamble.com)
Man or Astro-Man? was a late 90s surf rock band from down in Alabama who would put out more 7″ records in a year than your average punk band would have in its discography. Prolific doesn’t even really begin to describe it and when I was looking for the perfect record to share for the 7th installment of my 7″ on the 7th series, this was the clear winner. I started listening to Man or Astro-Man? when I worked at Acme Comics back in Peoria IL about 11 or so years ago. My coworker Skip had most of the CDs and we’d chuck ’em in the stereo and play them over the store speakers. This was also at the height of coolness (for me at least) working there. We had Skip, Randy and Farmer Ted on staff, Chadwick was still stopping in when he could and Bob & Dani were still baby free. This group resulted in possibly the best company Christmas dinner I’ve ever attended. Oh, but back to the band, yeah, Man or Astro-Man? just always seemed to be around, what with Skip playing them and my friends Atomik, Robot Allison and Lins all being huge fans. This may or may not’ve contributed to me not getting super into them, as I could go most anywhere with some buddys and a copy of “Project Infinity” was sure to either be playing or on hand to be played. In fact for years the only CD of theirs I had was “Is It…”! This all changed last November. Feeling nostalgic I took my copy of “Is It…” with me to play in the car while Christmas shopping in Burbank and it just cracked my head right open. I loved it even more than I did back in the day! Absence makes the heart grow fonder or what ever, I don’t know, but I was digging them on a level that I previously hadn’t. So I did what any sensible person would do, check local record shops and online to fill out my collection with some more Man or Astro-Man action. Here’s their first release. Some of these songs were rerecorded for future albums, some were collected onto CD and some songs are only on this very record. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did, and it helps you recall days past.
The Smooths were a Baltimore, MD ska band that put out 2 CDs on the SideOneDummy label. They were pretty damn good too. I got to see them at the ’98 Vans Tour and again in ’99 playing with Ham, Mad Caddies and the Toasters on the Peoria River Front Stage. You know, the one Summer where they actually let normal shows happen there that weren’t part of the Peoria Area Civic Events festivities so that it didn’t sit there unused 48 weeks out of the year? Anyway, they put on a hell of a performance both times, pretty hard to top! After they broke up I know that the lead singer went on to a hardcore band that has also since broke up. I never knew too terribly much about them, heck, I didn’t even know this 7″ existed up until I found it in an Iowa City record shop when I was killing time before seeing an Edna’s Goldfish and Step Lively show at Gabe’s Oasis. I could hardly believe my eyes. I had seriously heard nothing about this, ever. I know that the internet was still not the number one depository for every bit of information back then, but I don’t think you can find any online information on this release even now! (OK I just checked, you can find 2, fine internet, you win, but just barely.) Thankfully some bands use logos and motifs so it was easy for me to know this was the same “the Smooths” that I knew and enjoyed. When you’re into smaller bands sometimes a lot of them can end up having the same name and it’s a race to the major label or major prominence to see who gets to keep it. Back in the day I knew 2 different Fall Out Boys, neither one of them the household name band we know today. But yeah, that font, those spades, I knew I’d hit the mark. What’s more curious is that “Kiss the Carnage” is such a good song it is hard to tell why it wasn’t on either of their albums. Apart from the band, this release in and of it self has things I like to see going on. A nice big “45” hole in the middle, and even more than that, side A is at 45 rpm while side B is at 33 1/3 rpm, that’s just neat, well to me at least!
Winterbrief was a duo from Philadelphia PA that specialized in thier very own brand of synth heavy dance pop. Winterbrief was first introduced to me by my friend Chris Bradley who had just saw them the weekend before. If I remembered right he said that “it seemed not many people liked them except for me and Tyson (Markley) and we both agreed that you’d love them.” I thought that was sad for the band, but awesome for me. Later, at practice for the short lived live version of Lost Letter Society, Chris lent me their debut CD which I officially kept once Chris went solo with the act again. This CD was later stolen by the 3rd member of the group, Tlas, so I had to go and purchase it myself. That CD was the soundtrack one night for me and Wolfie aimlessly driving about town, nursing the wounds from and then confronting his ex-fiancee. Note: he wasn’t 21 yet so no booze for us. That CD made me fall for the band, and at the time I was sure the sound they were doing (similar to my favorites bis) was going to be the future of music. I was wrong in the end, but that didn’t matter, just because the masses never caught on only means they missed out on some good music. Not me though, it lead me to find and collect everything they put out! In the end they put out 3 CDs, a 12″ record and 3 7″ records, some of which seem to be sadly going completely out of print. The A side is completely exclusive to this release, while track 1 of the B side found its way onto a Captain Beefheart tribute and the second onto their previously mentioned 12″.
Dr. Manette was a ska-punk band from Champagne-Urbana IL who later changed their name doctormanette and put out a record on Chicago’s JUMP UP! label. The first time I saw them is when this 7″ came out. It was at an all day ska show in the Summer of 1996 at a skate park in Rockford IL. It started at noon and went until 10pm. About half way through the show I started to get sleepy and almost took a nap on a skate ramp, but then these guys came on a blew me away! It turns out my friend Mike had had a few classes with one of them, before he went to talk to him after the set he asked me “Hey, you liked them right?” I responded that I did and 15min later Mike turned back up and handed me this record. I asked him how much and he said it was a gift, then later told me that they’d just gave him one because he knew them and that he didn’t have a record player. The 3rd song was on Moon Records’ “Skarmageddon 3: A New Beginning” so it may be familiar.