Vinylthon 2020: WUSC Records From The Vault with Kodak Slack
by Erin Slack // The Indie 500 (FRIDAY 1-2PM)
While being home, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the massive stack of records that I obtained from the station shortly before classes were moved online. We were working on cleaning out the CD library and were told that we could basically take anything we wanted. Those words were like music to my ears (literally). Some of the records had great reviews that convinced me to take them, some were colored vinyl, and some were from artists that I recognized. So for Vinylthon 2020, I’m going to go through a few, listen to them, and compare my review with the previous DJ’s review.
The Posies – Failure
I’m a sucker for colored records, so this one being blue is what drew me to it. Plus The Posies are really good. The original review says “From Seattle, this originally cassette-only release is here for us all on blue vinyl. This is good solid pop with a slight 60s jangle to them. Overall it’s great!” Another DJ also added “The Bob magazine called it the most perfect pop record ever!”
I can’t help but agree, this album is incredible. Out of all the WUSC records I have, this is one of my most played. Every time it’s played, I can just imagine sitting in the station in 1989 jamming out. Failure is the debut album by The Posies and really shows the band’s 60s pop influence. Also, for a debut album, the songwriting and lyrical work is incredible and shows the talent that The Posies had, even in the beginning. One of my favorites from this album is definitely the opening track “Blind Eyes Open.” Another favorite, “I May Hate You Sometimes,” almost sounds like it could be by The Kinks. If you like any of the more popular songs by The Posies, I definitely recommend this album, it rocks.
Modern Allies – Out of Nowhere
Are you beginning to see the pattern here? Colored records are beautiful and Modern Allies got my attention with their red pressing. The original review from 1988 says “Rock-Pop; not terribly original, but some of it can be pretty good – the better cuts are marked. Side B (all) is superior to Side A.”
I don’t think Modern Allies are doing a lot different than a lot of bands at this time, but I still enjoy this album. It’s a good record to put on for background noise. “One Last Time” and “I See The End” are my favorites. They are also both from the B-side, so I agree with the original review.
Murphy’s Law – Back With a Bong!
Yeah yeah yeah, a clear one still counts as colored. The original review from 1989 says, “Yes, indeed they are back, with a new lineup and a new vinyl color. There’s a little more metal influence but there’s also more variation- ska, funky thrash- than their 1st LP. Fishbone appears on several cuts (A-2, 3, 6 + B-6). This powerhouse “sound of beer and BBQ squished together” will rock anyone’s show.”
I can tell a lot of DJs have played this due to the record sleeve being pretty damaged. It’s not exactly my style (I host an indie specialty show, so, yeah) but there is definitely some good hardcore rock here. The experimentation with different genres works well together. My favorite track is “Ska Song,” but it isn’t representative of the album. I think the next best song on this album is “Secret Agent Skin.”
Simple Minds – Simple Minds Live: In The City of Light
The original review says: “A very beautifully packaged Greatest Hits Live double album from what I’ve always considered a very good band. This was recorded in Paris, France in August of 1986. (With the exception of B-1 recorded in Sydney, Australia). All cuts sound great, though they tend to run a little long as is expected. Of course we must stay away from a few cuts (B-3, C-1, and D-1 are forbidden). Play others!!” Another DJ adds “Jim Kerr is as good live as in studio”
Most people probably recognize Simple Minds as that band that sings the song from The Breakfast Club. But they’re a talented band and highly slept-on. This is a fantastic live album. Usually bands risk sounding staticky and picking up the noise of the audience when they create an album live. But Simple Minds did amazing on this venture. The album is great and the quality is really incredible. “Don’t You Forget About Me” is in its prime here and I definitely enjoy the live version more than the studio version. The vocals are strong and the guitar is energetic throughout this entire album. You can really feel the band’s passion that they put into performing live. I agree with the original reviewer, even the vinyl sleeve is great and includes a booklet. Check out this album, you won’t regret it.
Cactus World News – “Years Later”
This is a single from 1986. The original review says “This band was the first to record for U2’s new label, Mother Records, after which they were quickly signed by MCA. This is from the upcoming LP Urban Beaches. This band is going to be big. They’ve got a great musical sense. The song is strong, upbeat and enthusiastic pop. CWN uses acoustic guitars, driving drums and strong vocals. You can hear a little U2 in CWN, but they retain their own identity very admirably. Similar to Belfast’s Ruefrex (also an MCA w/ a new LP out – listen to it). Great guitars. Watch for these guys. Perhaps the next big thing from Dublin.”
This is an incredible pop single. Everything that the original review says is completely accurate. There are amazing guitars, it’s upbeat, and they did get some attention in the UK. You can tell that their influences were bands like U2, Ramones, and The Clash. I highly recommend this song to anyone who enjoys pop from the 80s or any of the bands that inspired CWN.
Blue Oyster Cult – Imaginos
“BOC is back and with a pretty good album. Aldo Nova and Joe Satriana [sic] appear on a couple of songs. The songs are all the story of a character named Imaginos and a power that he holds (Read insert for more details). Give it a whirl you might like it. Style hasn’t changed much over the years so you know what to expect”
From the back of the album: A Bedtime Story For The Children Of the Damned. From a dream world, paralleling our earth in time and space, the invisible ones (Les Invisibles) have sent an agent who will dream the dream of history. With limitless power he becomes the greatest actor of the 19th century. Taking on many ingenious disguises, he places himself at pivotal junctures in history, continually altering its course and testing our ability to respond to the challenge of evil. His name is Imaginos.
I did some research on this concept album because of the interesting story being told and I figured there was a backstory to the production. This album took 8 years to be completed. Robby Krieger of The Doors also contributed to it. Pearlman poems and scripts are included into this concept album and it is about an alien conspiracy, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. There are a lot of historical references weaved into the songs. Also apparently the album was meant to be a rock opera that told 200 years of history but all the songs are out of order. All in all, this album is just insane and there is no way that it was created while sober. Sadly it was not a success and shortly after the band did their Imaginos tour, they got dropped from their label. The songs are okay but it’s such a deeply conceptual album that you really need to research to understand.
The Woodentops – “You Make Me Feel”
The original review from 1988 says, “’You Make Me Feel’ is a cool song w/ a catchy beat. I personally like the ‘Late Night Mix’ – it is slow and kind of makes you feel like you should be walking down a long, dark tunnel with a single light at the end. The Woodentops experimented with this mix, and results are successful. ‘Stop This Car’ is really pretty good once you get to the vocals – which takes forever.”
The Woodentops were mildly popular and these few songs were released in the middle of that fame. I really dig “You Make Me Feel,”, if the music were slowed down a little bit it could almost be an indie song from today. But this is definitely pop and the mix is more eerie. If you decide to listen to the mix, just close your eyes and take it all in. The original review is correct about feeling like you should be walking down a long, dark tunnel. “Stop This Car” is also included on the B-side and is a pretty solid pop song, but it starts with a lengthy lead up to the vocals.
The Neighborhoods – The High Hard One
From 1986, the original review says “This trio is from Boston and this is their 2nd LP. The record is made of ten sharp, concise originals w/ a punchy power pop sound. B-4, 5 recorded live. This is a band that’s come out of the garage into a more refined sound but not too refined. Some blistering guitar on this (B-3) and some really fluid bass lines. Energetic, unrestrained and gutsy effort that shows great potential. It’s the melodic chords here that make the ‘Hoods’ sound what it is. The Neighborhoods put out a 7” single 6 years ago and then disbanded. This formation of the band has 2 of the original members.” With a couple of DJs adding, “The Neighborhoods Rule!!!!!!!!” and “HOODS RULE!”
This album and band definitely does rule. It starts off strong with “WUSA” which is about radio stations in the USA. With our station name being very close to the title of the song, I had all the more reason to dig it. “Arrogance” and “Yeah You” are a couple other good ones. The songs here are definitely pretty original cuts with some heavy guitars and clean production. It’s really great. They were pretty close to some big names, opening for Bowie at one of his shows and touring with Cheap Trick and the Ramones. Also, these guys are apparently working on an album currently, so maybe keep an eye out for that?
Going through these records was like going back in a time machine. Even though I wasn’t around when these records were spinning, I still feel the sense of nostalgia listening to the music that was playing back then. I even discovered artists and songs that I never knew existed. Listening to these records and reading the reviews, I can’t help but imagine DJs in 40 years reading the reviews of music that we play on the station today. It’s crazy to think about but, hopefully it’ll happen one day.