This month in review
An interaction with Mudhoney's Mark Arm about Stylex
Wonder Program (Friction) Stylex
Every month Music Notes and Quotes is planning on having an internationally-recognized musician review a local CD
from a Northwest Ohio band or an international release. This month, Mark Arm, the vocalist/rhythm guitarist of the Seattle group Mudhoney
was penciled in for a review. Originally, it was going to be on the re-release of Captain Beefheart's album Clear Spot, however, the more
we thought about it, we realized that rather than having Mr. Arm review an international release, why not have him review a band from
Northwest Ohio. So, we asked Mr. Arm if he would be interested in reviewing Stylex's latest offering, Wonder Program. In the end,
a review was never received by Music Notes and Quotes, however, the following is an e-mail correspondence of what transpired
between Music Notes and Quotes editor/publisher Steve Howell and Mr. Arm.
Hello Mr. Arm,
My name is Steve Howell, and I'm a writer for the national publication All
Music Guide. I've corresponded with Steve Turner about bios I wrote on The
Monkeywrench and The Kent 3. Currently, I'm starting an online monthly
music publication about the Northwest Ohio music scene (where I live), as
well as covering national acts. For the first issue, I'm setting up an
interview with Jon Poneman (since he's from Toledo) and writing pieces on
local groups Pulled Groin (sort of a Minutemen/Roy Clark vibe) and a band
called Stylex (Devo/Brainiacesque). I'd like to have a nationally
recognized musician contribute a review each month and would be humbled if
you would consider writing something. I would like to send you the recent
CD reissue of Captain Beefheart's Clear Spot to review if you'd like.
For reviewing it, you can keep the CD (sorry, I don't have any advertisers
yet, or else I'd pay you). Please let me know if you're interested. I am
also going to contact Steve about contributing a piece for the future. I'm
planning on unveiling the debut issue on April 1, so please let me know as
soon as possible. If you'd like to check out the under construction page,
it's up at www.musicnotesandquotes.com. Also, if you'd like to see any of
my work for All Music Guide, please visit www.allmusic.com, and search for
any of the following:
* Kent 3
* Kings of Rock
* Nights and Days
* U.S. Maple
* Scissor Girls
* Arab On Radar
* Soledad Brothers
* Gaunt I Can See Your Mom from Here
* Big'n Discipline Through Sound
* Dirty Three Sad and Dangerous
Thanks for your time.
Sure, I'll take a stab at it. What's the Clear Spot connection to
Northwest Ohio? Who reissued it? Is the Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot CD out
of print? When do you need the review?
You can send the cd to:
(In between the previous message and the following one, I e-mailed Mr. Arm with the request to review the Stylex CD. The following e-mail was a follow-up to make sure that he was interested in reviewing the disc.)
Is the 20th of March OK for the deadline then? I received this message,
and then the other which said OK. Please let me know. I want to make sure
I have someone in the spot for the review.
I could do something by March 20th. Here's my dilemma about being a
critic. I don't want to get into reviewing stuff I don't dig. This is not
because I don't want to offend anyone, it's because I don't want to waste
my time listening to crap over and over again in order to come up with a
critical analysis of the aforementioned turd. Send me the Stylex disc. If
it doesn't move me, I'll let you know.
I just wanted to make sure that you received that Stylex CD. I interviewed
Jon Poneman on Thursday for the first edition of my site. We discussed
Toledo and Seattle and talked about Bombshelter Records. I didn't know
that was how you met Bruce Pavitt. I also didn't know that Bombshelter
morphed into Fallout Records. I have this old video by Fallout and Greg
James Productions from 1989 called Board Crazy with some guy named Wez
hosting it. The video was about skateboarding in the Northwest, and the
soundtrack featured Mudhoney, Nirvana, U-Men, Coffin Break, Kings of Rock
and the Nights and Days. That was my first introduction to the music scene
in Washington state.
I found a used copy of Deep Six this weekend in Toledo. I'd been looking
for it for a long time. I'd never heard it before. I like the Green River
track "10,000 Things." I was reading the CD jacket and was looking at the
picture of Malfunkshun. Was Andy Wood in that band?
I hope the recording sessions are going well for Mudhoney.
Take care, and I hope to hear from you soon.
I recieved the Stylex CD and have played it twice so far. It's pretty
cool. They definately have a Brainiac vibe. Do you have any background
info on them?
I met Bruce before he started Bombshelter. He had just moved up from
olympia. I think I met him while he was DJ-ing at the Metropolis (a very
cool all ages club).
Wez Lundry used to work at Fallout, and he's been doing a skate/punk zine
called Pool Dust for ages now. He's an awesome guy. He's been working on a
grad degree in Indonesian studies and was in East Timor working for the
U.N. when the shit went down a few years back.
Andy was in Malfunkshun.
We finished mixing at 1:30 last night, and I had to be at work at 6:15 this
morning. I'm beat, so I'll write more later.
Steve Howell here. I just wanted to see if you were sending the Stylex
review today. I'm finishing the Web site tomorrow, and it will be up
Monday. I've written a feature on the band for the first issue, so if you
can, please get this to me as soon as you can. Otherwise, I need to write
a review on the album to go with the article. I would still love to have
you contribute though.
Music Notes and Quotes
I'm sorry, I haven't gotten to it. I could make a ton of excuses, but I'll
spare you. The truth is, I'm not that excited about writing reviews. This
is not a reflection on Stylex, 'cause I really dig the album. I could have
written something on Clear Spot in the time it takes me to type (which
ain't all that fast) since I've been listening to that album for years. I
hoped this isn't too much of a bummer for you, and I feel like shit for
letting you down.
On a much happier note (for me at least), we finished a new Mudhoney album.
The Sun and the Second Planet Lazerlove5
This CD contains two tolerable tracks: "B and V's Trip to Costa Rica," and "Good Evening."
What makes these two tracks tolerable? you, the ever-vigilant reader, may ask. That's because Laserlove5 wasn't playing on those parts.
The disk inexplicably shifts from a chorus of anemic tenors crooning about spaceships in songs like "Hearts Full of Love" into some serious
mariachi and mandolin in "B and V's Trip to Costa Rica."
"To hell with the background noise and raw sound," I thought as I listened to "B and V." "These guys are serious musicians." Confused, I pick
up the liner notes. The tune's players were listed as "Musicians Unknown."
Lazerlove5 member Brian Nupp apparently recorded these wandering minstrels while on vacation in Costa Rica. Which might have been the
best recording he has ever made, based on what I heard on "The Sun and the Second Planet."
This CD is so crammed with electronic drums that it would convert Bill Gates into a luddite, if ever his ears were inflamed by it. "There's
a spaceship up above, like a heart that's full of love," the space tenors croon in track 4, a.k.a. "Heart Full of Love." Fortunately, this CD was
released after the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide,
so Lazerlove5 can't be held responsible. But it does sort of make you wonder if music like this was going through cult members' minds as they
lined up their Nike tennis shoes in neat rows...
Oh yeah, my other favorite part of the CD was a recording of birds singing at the end of "Good Evening." No, the birds weren't singing about space
ships, cheeky monkeys. Dave Moore
Droll, Vol. 5 (American Tapes) Wolf Eyes
Wolf Eyes is the past and the future of music. They take the best elements of Throbbing Gristle, of SPK, of true "industrial" music
(ala Industrial Records), as a starting point and explode the genre specifiers with unclassifiable sounds and music(s), unleashing a
guttural, brain-splitting sonic-sludge catastrophe unlike anything known to the human ear in the 21st Century. Last yearıs "Dread"
was THE record of the year, a brilliant marriage of the more song-oriented, beat-yr.-skull-in-with-the-slow-descent-of-musical-alcoholism
meat and taters approach employed on the Fortune Dove 12 inch with the freely improvised metallistic workouts present in their live performance,
a brilliant marriage indeed. The Droll series seems to be more of a document series than anything else, various combinations of practice sessions,
unfinished songs and demos, live performance, all minced and manipulated (quite possibly) by the incomparable John Olson, proprietor of the
luxurious American Tapes label. A must have for diehard fans of the band (listen to the works as they progress), these (or this, as it were,
volume 5, ahem) are not the best place for the casual fan to start, unless they are going into it not expecting a hi-fi hot-shit-on-a-gold-platter
recording or are more of a conneseour of the "lo-fi," as it were. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating document of a band that is extremely multi-faceted
in terms of both performance and recording scenarios. Josh Eppert
Assault on Tower 61 (Silent North Records) Halon
Halon brings a new form of jam rock to the table with their first full length CD entitled Assault on Tower 61. This Ferndale, Mich. trio
offers us 15 tracks of trance inducing noise. This music is not for everyone, but if you've ever wondered what could be going on inside
Rodin's thinker's brain, Assault on Tower 61 could be what has the guy so perplexed. Out of phase, looping keyboards often rival the tempo
of oddly tuned drums, creating a whirlwind of sounds that are a bit tough to get a grasp on at times. While this is going on, the bass presents the
framework for the band to build upon, solid and bold. The tunes are not pick-me-ups, yet they are not depressors either. Indifferent might be the
word to describe this music, and that's not a bad thing at all, it's just how modern life goes My only complaint of the record would be that the songs
have NO changes. Instead Halon relies on dynamics for switches, and it works to some extent. As the band matures, Halon will undoubtedly secure a
firmer grasp on song crafting and maybe we'll see a switch or two on the next record. That is not meant to take away from Assault, just a suggestion.
So, for those that are fans of the whole space rock thing, give these guys a shot. Though the music has no changes, it still takes an intelligent listener
to get the gist of what these guys are attempting to pull off. And they pull it off well. St. Benjamin
Look Into the Eyeball David Byrne
My quest for David Byrne's "Look Into The Eyeball" began when I got the Compaq computer into which I'm typing this review.
No, I didn't know my computer would have a single from the CD loaded in its hard drive. Hell, I didn't know the computer would have a Media Player
that would report whatever DVD I play on it to Microsoft Inc., either.
But sure enough, when I clicked on the Media Player option, out bursts Byrne's "Like Humans Do," a very danceable Talking Heads-like tune from
"Look Into The Eyeball."
Dude -- my brother got the same song in his Dell. Just think: Thousands of desirable demographic-types shelling out money for a computer and getting
an earful of David Byrne (that merchandising devil).
Well, I went out to the mall and paid FULL PRICE for Byrne's new CD to find it wrapped in a vinyl package that makes Byrne look like he's blinking
when you pull the CD jewel case out.
I plunk the CD into my boombox, and I listen to it and ... it's OK.
Which presents the worst peril any writer anywhere can face: Writing with ambivalence. (Hell, it's tough enough writing about music. And why
the hell do people accept writing as a plausible medium for criticizing music? Why is it any better than dancing about movies? Or whistling about meals?)
Here, I'm on the CD's ninth track ("Smile") and I'm getting the urge to turn off the disc so I can listen to "The Partridge Family Album" on my turntable.
BELATED WARNING: I am a shameless pop music omnivore.
The main reason I decided to review this album is that I am mesmerized by the Talking Heads' greatest hits compilation "Sand in the Vaseline."
Byrne was involved in writing all those songs -- some (including "Sugar on My Tongue") he penned single-handedly. In "Eyeball," Byrne faces an
unenviable task: Try not to be too much like the Old David Byrne, but try not to be so different that you're known as The Artist Formerly Known As
In "Look Into The Eyeball," Byrne doesn't progress far enough from Old Byrne to challenge his listeners (at least, not this listener).
The closest Byrne gets to stretching his artistic legs is on two tracks: "Desconocido Soy" and "Neighborhood."
"Desconocido" ignites with a funky Barry White-style rhythm violins lead-in, and with Nru's raw backup vocals. I don't understand a word they're
saying (the lyrics are Spanish), but it doesn't really matter. Wasn't it Pablo Cruise who said, "Music is the universal language"?
"Neighborhood" starts with a great '70s-esque rhythm flute introduction -- Boz Scaggs almost comes into focus, when suddenly, Byrne starts in
with bongos, and his voice cracks, "We've got peace, love and monkey business..." (sort of like the Heads' "Life During Wartime").
It's possible that Byrne and the rest of the Heads covered so much stylistic terrain in their combined career that Byrne wasn't able to reach much
farther in "Eyeball." He knows volumes about music and has actually been able to funnel this knowledge into great music. But "Eyeball" is uneven.
The result is the McCartney-on-pablum track "Smile," with the line "Smile to brighten up the darkest day, like icing on a birthday cake."
"Eyeball" doesn't ever achieve the fun that Talking Heads' "Love For Sale," "Stay Up Late" or "And She Was" deliver.
"Like Humans Do," as I said, is very much Talking Heads-to-the-bone. It doesn't break any ground, while both "Moment of Conception," "Walk on Water"
and "Everyone's In Love With You" all prove anemic compared to old Heads stuff (some of which I listened to again because parts of "Eyeball" sounded so
familiar, I wanted to see from which Heads tune Byrne borrowed).
In fact, it's hard to pull the old Heads stuff out of my player to listen to "Eyeball" some more. Well, I'm not gonna. I'm having too much fun listening
to "Mr. Jones." Then I'll listen to that Partridge Family record. Dave Moore
Chimes in Black Water (American Tapes) Black Eyes
This is the product of an auspicious sonic summit between garbagetronica extraodinares Wolf Eyes and noise terrorists Black Dice.
These recordings are to be released in full sometime later this year as a double LP set on Fusetron, but this should satisfy some of the
cravings to hear what is sure to be one of the best records of the year. It is important to keep in mind two things before listening to this
recording (more so that one is not disappointed by unreasonably high expectations): 1. These are "mangled Walkmen outtakes" of these sessions;
hence, the recording quality isnıt sterling silver. 2. This is an American Tapes release. Many of the Wolf Eyes recordings released on American
Tapes have obviously been reconfigured by John Olson post-recording, and this record is no different. The digital clicks and cuts (which usually
appear as a result of cutting sounds into pieces on a computer) that signify computer fuckery (if you will) are definitely present, and sometimes,
particularly on the first two tracks, one wonders how much of the recording present on the disc was actually recorded when the band was not really
recording; in other words, some of the sounds/pieces are peppered with background conversation, as if the band was not necessarily recording on their
primary recording device at the time these recordings were made. But the various cuts and reconfigurations (lots of stereo panning left to right, as well
as the loops and drones that often signify an American Tapes release) turn what may be the sound of the two bands jamming and/or simultaneously
warming up into something completely different. The end result is both a document of a recording process as well as the creating of a new musical
text, replete with its own vocabulary which, quite possibly, will be very different from the vocabulary present on the Fusetron version of these
sessions: dark water churning dissonance into rhythm, rhythm into noise, noise into chimes. Josh Eppert
Other Animals (Troubleman Unlimited) Erase Errata
In many ways, Erase Errata are the new-waveish, dancey version of the Scissor Girls. The dissonant swagger that characterized the Scissor Girls
updated version of no wave is definitely present, and the SGs tendencies to stop and start on a dime and crash at a momentıs notice are evident here
as well. In terms of general approachability, however, Erase Errata have the SGs beat, mostly due to the tight, bouncy feel of the drums, the general
coherence of the lyrics, and often identifiable presence of a distinct melody. Much more adventurous than Sleater-Kinney, yet still as "rocking," Erase
Errata have been garnering support and praise from a wide variety of critics for their distinct melding of the avant-garde with rock, dance music, and
pop, so for those who like their indie music in more standard forms and yet are looking for something a bit more on the "out" side, this record is a great
place to start. However, for those looking to hear the second coming of the SGs, keep in mind that there is a definite pop sensibility here that was
generally lacking from the SGs recorded output; you may want to reexamine your reasons for liking the SGs in the first place to see if "pop" will
fit in there at all, and if you can accept that style melding with the more harsh and abrasive tones of the SGs. Personally, I think itıs a fine record,
but I have acquired a taste for the new wave in my later years that I did not once have, so I can appreciate the various musical aspects of this band.
s/t (Vermiform) Fast Forward
This will probably be dismissed by some as simply a Men's Recovery Project ripoff; for those who don't know, Men's Recovery is the electronic
remnants of the once legendary hardcore band Born Against. They take one page from the Residents, one page from Six Finger Satellite and one page
from their own special bag of musical tricks, and throw down some very odd ditties indeed. At first listen, there are some obvious similarities between
Fast Forward and their broken brethren: the quirky, lo-fi Devo keyboards mixed with hard-hitting drum machines and sludgy bass and guitar. But Fast
Forward sounds more like new wave sped up and played with the gusto of hardcore circa 1984 than they do the avant-oddness of Men's Recovery Project.
Granted, there are the bits of instrumental interlude that resemble the video game music eeriness that Neil Burke and Co. often conjure up, but they seem
more like sidenotes to the "hardcore new wave" songs. Not hard to see why the name of this project is named Fast Forward. Dirty, scuzzed out riffs
are played over and over again, like filthy pop songs played by Iggy Pop on LOTS of speed, lots of speed. The meat of this is the stringed instruments
and the drum machine; again, the keyboards almost feel like window dressing more than anything else. Overall, though, Fast Forward is a very satisfying
mix of the new and the old and does not dwell overly long in either the past or the future; what is old is fun, and what is new keeps things interesting
throughout the album. Josh Eppert
History of Ghost Dad (Gods of Tundra) Hair Police
Mighty as Arab on Radar in a soup kitchen, the Hair Police have been making sure that the world is taking notice of them lately, preparing for a massive,
summer-long tour with Neon Hunk and Mammal in tow. If the condition of epilepsy could completely manifest itself in a band, the Hair Police (particularly
live) would be it. This is one of their first releases, put out on Hair Policeman Mike Connelly's elusive Gods of Tundra record label. To put it mildly,
contained on this disc are the sounds of five men impaling themselves upon each other's instruments and ripping each other into chunks of varying size,
amplifying the chunks as they quiver, dying out in blood blisters; well, that is not quite the Hair Police. The Hair Police here is the beast that comes
from a collective coagulation, post-aforementioned dismemberment. Call it want you want, throw in what you will: trash rock, free noise, free
improv, power violence (strip the word of its now cliched/common meaning and you'll get the drift here). Humorous and dead fucking serious all at the
same time, if a glam rock band lived off of a diet of its own puke and sex drippings, the Hair Police would they be. Occassionally "song" like entities
(to the rock listener) seem to appear suddenly, as if they were always there, but were just buried in the static, sparking circuitry. Don't ever be
too sure about that, though. Most tracks are too short for anything too "song"-like to develop, and is that even important? Is the song the element
of commerce that you as a listener are searching for in the Hair Police, like some poor schlep in a musical MBA program? Should the song or lack
thereof, really matter? No. The Hair Police dwell forever in that sheer and often unnerving moment of catharsis that some get from the more extreme
forms of music; when that moment is over, the Hair Police move on. The preminence of the "song" as is found in most indie rock, techno, pop music,
etc. and its preliterate and assumed dogma that is unconsciously enforced on an unsuspecting public is relatively unimportant in the context of the
musical vocabulary employed on this recording. This is existence of one kind, amplified and infused with all that five bodies can give. Josh Eppert
Language (American Tapes) Local Disorder
The following is a loose collection of impressions grafted to language, after listening to the first side of this cassette tape.
Subtitle: DEATH WHISTLE blooz
Phasing radio static, breaking, then rebuilding. The almost piercing entrance of the DEATH WHISTLE (like grinding sandstones).
Breaks off suddenly; reinterprets itself in recombinant radio transmissions from decadent ham operators (like rubbing turntable
needles with rocks and glass). Back comes DEATH WHISTLE. Alien radio transmission (like Duane Allman's voice looped through a ring
modulator). Dribbling static into piercing phaser. Then zipper farbly static (Duane is fighting!). Vocals blurt distortion overload. Black
Dice done through farbling voice mod karaoke box, spitting out with whispered degenerate breakups breaking up again. Phasemodic destruction
mode. Vocals clear and distort themselves out. Talking telephones phase in and out, shifted pitch, finger snapper left out cold, bye. Hypnotic
destruction ala Universal Indians, but more rapid movements between one mode and another. Places where you might thing there are "song breaks,"
but it's a lie. The DEATH WHISTLE-ever present and reappearing. Almost flat, one-dimensional, totally aware almost of the so-called "sonic
limitations" of the cassette recording. Approximates what it feels like to quit smoking; very moody, anxious, lots of teeth gnashing; one emotion
to the next; all coated by jackhammer numbing nerves and that fucking DEATH WHISTLE!!! Josh Eppert
No Reagan=No Real Hardcore Volume 2 (American Tapes)
A must-have comp from one of the brightest and hardest burning labels out there. There are two key (and unifying) elements that primarily
hold this comp together (besides the fact that most of the music is hard to classify and/or loosely grouped in the experimental or noise category):
the echo and the drone. Keep that in mind when considering purchase of this compilation. Here's a track-by-track breakdown:
Coyote Ugly-dynamic drone builds to piercing horror tones (see DEATH WHISTLE on Local Disorder-Language cassette). (the DEATH WHISTLE is an
eerie shimmering tone that screams in a very silent sort of way)
Violent Ramp-fucked-up skate punk ('80s style); idiosyncratic (somewhat sarcastic and mocking, yet somehow still extremely genuine and heartfelt);
messy, messy guitar solo; "Don't Pay to Skate!"
Dr. GMWP-feedback distorto slide guitar with drums and squawky saxophone; very hacked up free improve
Ugly Songs-"What's that?" "It's a tape recorder." One adult, at least two kids, clarinet, drums, improvisation, kids making farting and puking noises.
Zombi-loud, crushing noise; lot of "depth of field" in the recording not always found in this kind of music; sounds instrument-driven (electric effects-
laden bass) rather than electronics-driven.
The Controllers-drunken dub-style reggae played by 10 year old children.
M. Babcock-spitting static dripping wax light droney with church bells; icy slightness twinkling shimmers and new melody surfaces right at the end.
Universal Indians-echo-ridden drone; quiet to loud at a momentıs notice; particularly fuzzed-out; small walls of phlegmed out sound are built up and then
they fall apart; very loud to very quiet near end; fades out into radio/TV transmissions; come back into busy transmissions, slurred out into messages
oscillated by frogs.
The Turkeys-alliteration over rock guitar. A goof, so to speak.
Basket Case-clattery echo fest; distant space out Sun Ra-ish free improve; rotating Leslie-like shimmer synth, drums, and saxophone; almost like if Can
or Magma did a technically simple (yet nonetheless arresting) free jazz piece.
Witcyst-cutting broken spoke metal being ripped by burbled spazzed out bass tones; crackling drunken bass and drums; overmodulated to maximum
ouchness; possibly treated bass?
Wolf Eyes 1-droney Ameritapes version of Wolf Eyes (i.e. sounds nothing like what they sound live); sounds like a Dr. Who soundtrack; black death
drones (again, echoed out).
Out By Sea-sounds like Wolf Eyes walking around somewhere (a beach? Aaron and Nate's voices are recognizable); folks finding random objects
and goofing off; even though itıs hard to know whatıs going on, it's still humorous.
Wolf Eyes 2-sounds more reminsent of Wolf Eyes w/Spykes CD-R; spasmodic doomsday garbage dance rock.
Local Disorder-like a truck engine burning out into static disposal; harsh fades slowly away.
Sharon Olson-tripped out contemplative harp piece with mumbling echoey conversation very quiet in background.
Handicapper Horns-slow, overechoed, lumbering echoback piece; like sluggins demon bull trying to creep back into hell, from one temporal plain to another.
Note to American Tapes reviews (particularly to Local Disorder and No Reagan cassettes): The English language is not an adequate vehicle with which to
describe the musics and artists that populate the American Tapes label. One is left with oversimplification (which I believe I may have done too much),
rooting through references too obscure to mention (particularly to a more rock-oriented audience), or engaging in clever and/or nonsensical metaphor
which may not bring anything about the music to light whatsoever (this I have also possibly engaged in a little to much, particularly the "nonsensical"
angle). The best way to get to know this music, obviously, is to purchase it and listen to it yourself. E-mail American
Tapes if youıre interested in getting some of this material for yourself. It is well worth the effort and relatively inexpensive (i.e. 20 bucks will usually net you at least three tapes and
two CD-Rs). Josh Eppert
We Believe in Toledo: When dino bankers roamed the Earth
So, this group of Toledo bankers cuts an album...
No, this really happened.
Back in the Year of Our Lord 1976, the muckety mucks of the First Federal Savings of Toledo (before the bank was devoured by Charter One Bank)
decided to commemorate the construction of their new headquarters -- 701 First Federal Plaza (337 N. Huron St.) -- in downtown Toledo by paying
the RCA Corporation to press an album. They called it "We Believe in Toledo!" and featured hometown gals (at that time, women were "gals") Teresa
Brewer and Helen O'Connell.
OK, just imagine climbing out of Lion Store with a brand new pair of elephant bell jeans, heading to the record store and seeing "We Believe in Toledo!"
and its cover featuring an 11-story glass office building aside newly pressed copies of "Hotel California" and "Bob Marley and the Whalers Live."
It was "Happy Days" meets "Almost Famous."
Apparently, Brewer's career was experiencing a mild resurgence at that time, and bankers sure as hell weren't going to let some kind of Rasta man inject
his mojo into their Hi-Fi stereophonics. The execs needed more tunes to fill out the album, so they likely did what Toledoans do -- they know someone
who knows someone ... and eventually, they got the job done. In this case, Brewer's boyfriend used his music-industry connections to bring in Duke
Ellington, who allowed the use of "I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good." And the album didn't turn out half bad.
The weirdest thing about "We Believe in Toledo" is how well it holds up to time. (Just try to listen to "Hotel California" or McCartney's "Silly Love
Songs" -- also a top release for 1976 -- right now and you'll know what I mean).
My biggest disappointment with "We Believe in Toledo" is that it doesn't include the First Federal theme jingle, which boldly states: "We Believe, we
believe, we believe in Toledo -- First Federal Savings going strong!"
Those kinds of diddies get my heart beating a bit faster. It's a bit of boosterism I've carried in my subconscious as long as I can remember (granted,
the jingle didn't do much good for First Federal when Charter One bought it out...).
From Brewer, we get the maddeningly cute but unavoidable "Music Music Music" (a.k.a. the nickelodeon song), "Let Me Go, Lover" (the 1940s equivalent
to Sting's "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free"), and "Till I Waltz Again With You."
O'Connell sings her biggest hit, "Green Eyes," does a decent job on "Tangerine" and breathlessly belts out "Amapola" (the album's biggest unspoiled gem).
The rest of the tunes seem to fit in with what a '40s-era white male bank executive would cut loose with after he finished the desert portion of a four-
martini lunch: "I Can't Get Started" (Bunny Berigan); "Boogie Woogie" (Tommy Dorsey); "Music Makers" (Harry James); "Deep Purple" (Larry Clinton
and his orchestra).
I found myself waxing reminiscent for shiny chrome toasters and Momma in an apron by the time the turntable stopped spinning on side 2.
I've given up trying to figure out the song selection, beyond Brewer, O'Connell and Ellington. I'll let you attempt to glean it from the cuniform found on
the record jacket:
"We believed in Toledo in 1935. Our first office at 338 Erie St. [sic]. Toledoans saved here until 1942. While they [Toledoans] watched their savings
grow, they listened to hometown girl Helen O'Connell sing 'Green Eyes,' 'Amapola,' and 'Tangerine,' (side A) and the popular favorites 'I Can't Get
Started' (Bunny Berigan), 'I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good' (Duke Ellington), 'Boogie Woogie' (Tommy Dorsey), 'Deep Purple' (Larry Clinton) and 'Music
Makers' (Harry James).
"We believed in Toledo in 1942. Our main office moved across Erie Street to our brand new building in 1942. In the fifties, Teresa Brewer made these
songs famous: 'Music, Music, Music,' 'Till I Waltz Again With You,' and 'Let Me Go, Lover,' and Toledoans continue to watch their savings -- and First
Federal -- grow."
There is no explanation about how First Federal savings grew for 40 years, while these bankers' musical tastes remained locked in a safe deposit box.
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