Happy Thanksgiving, all. We were supposed to go to the folks house today, but my son got sick, so here I am watching Green Bay at Detroit and playing Mario on the DS. Earlier, I watched the infamous WKRP "Turkeys Away!" episode (culturally imperative Turkey Day viewing for all Southwest Ohio folk--as is just about every episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, especially the absolutely surreal episode where they go to Dayton ("be careful, Andy... Dayton can be nasty after dark!")). Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity to post a little something. Here we go:
The Mystery of MOM...
So I'm down in my basement, and I'm psyched. I'm totally psyched because today I'm ripping the MOM cassette that Gail brought over. In 1987 I'd heard a lot about MOM but never saw them live or heard any recordings. For twenty years, all I'd ever had to go on were descriptions from others, a flyer I had, and strange imagery brought up by the names of some of the band members: Roger Revlon, Bad Elvis. Really, how could they not be fucking cool?
So I pop in the tape, press play, and click record in CoolEdit. The cassette insert lists nine songs in total--get that, nine forgotten gems of experimental indie rock from Dayton's past. The first two songs are great. Odd lyrics and growly guitar over a monolithic drum-machine beat. Shades of LE TIGRE and other drum-machine sporting rock bands of the late '90s--but with a pure '80s punk bent. I'm diggin', I'm diggin', I'm diggin' and then...
...that's it: naught but silence for five minutes after the second track. In desperation, I fast forward, hear the click as the reels freeze in place when the tape reaches its limit, flip it over, and with trembling figures press the play button on side 2.
Imagine my disappointment as side 2 starts with what sounds like the same song at the start of side 1. Then the second song plays and after that, nothing again.
Just to be sure, I let both sides run completely as I putter around the basement. But all I get is twenty-five minutes of tape hiss on both! Tape hiss that takes on the suggestion of laughter in the dark--mocking laughter from twenty years ago, aimed through some demonic manipulation of time and space straight at me in the year 2007!
As I scan the cover insert again, a dreadful thought occurs to me: I've no guarantee that I'm even listening to the fabled MOM of Gem City legend! I mean, the cassette is labeled "MOM," and it came wrapped in a MOM cassette insert on paper that's the same shade of blue as the cassette label. But the lyrics to the songs on the tape don't suggest any of the titles. And I hear no saxaphone, even though the insert says that MOM had a sax player.
Without more information, I'm left to make only the vaguest of inferences. These songs probably are by MOM. The insert lists no drummer, and these songs use a drum machine. There couldn't have been too many non-dance-pop bands at that time that used a drum machine. But my guess is that these songs were recorded after the cassette that goes with the insert--likely demos or outtakes that Dennis gave Gail for some reason, or perhaps test recordings. I say that because close listening reveals that the two songs on both sides are not exactly the same recordings. They have slightly different beginnings and endings and perhaps different vocal tracks. But otherwise, they are virtually identical.
As I said, I know little about MOM. But according to the band roster, they were:
Dennis Schlichter - vocals & guitar
Roger Revlon - vocals & sax & noise
Bad Elvis - guitar
Chris Green - bass guitar
Dennis has been a friend of Gail for as long as I can remember (perhaps she might ask him to clear up this mystery?). I remember hearing Roger's name in the old days, but I know nothing about him (maybe Kris Pliess knew him?). Bad Elvis was likely in another fabled Dayton band of this era, BAD ELVIS IMPERSONATORS, and something tells me that he'll turn out to be someone I know. But I can't be sure. I believe I've met Chris Green a few times over the years, but I don't know him very well. Val tells me he's a lawyer now.
Finally, MOM was gigging around Dayton in 1987 and perhaps into '88, but it seems to me they were broken up by summer of '88 at the latest.
1. [It Takes A Man (to Make A Man), version A]
2. [unknown, version A]
3. [It Takes A Man (to Make A Man), version B]
4. [unknown, version B]
Download It! (link re-upped on 2-1-2013)
The titles are bracketed because I made them up. Just going by the title list on the insert, I don't believe either of these were on that cassette.