Saturday, February 16, 2008

THE PLEASURES PALE, s/t (12" vinyl LP, 1987)

My turntable is shit -- total shit.  [UPDATE 2-12-2013 -- I have a better one.  Ignore this and the next couple of paragraphs.] It's part of a GPX combo purchased at Best Buy for $40 in 1995 (my mom actually bought it for me -- no shit). While the cassette deck on that combo delivers decent sound, the signal from the turntable sounds like it's coming through Alan Sherman's "Japanese transistor radio" and finally received by The Professor on Gilligan's Island with the little white ear-piece stuck in his ear -- but only as Mary Ann would hear it standing on tip-toes (to push her breasts out) next to him.

I did a lot of processing to boost the overall presence, and I think I made some headway. But for now, vinyl rips on this blog will be notably weaker than cassette rips. When I get a better turntable (summer maybe?), I promise I'll re-rip and re-post all the vinyl.

Anyway, there's little I can tell you first-hand about THE PLEASURES PALE. I never saw them live, but they were quite popular in Dayton around 1986-87 -- I'd venture more popular than GUIDED BY VOICES at the time. The bass player, Luis Lerma, was (with his brother Tere) later in the THE TASTIES in the mid-'90s. At least one of the Lermas was in FRANKENSTEIN'S KIND in 1988. Both have been around Dayton forever, playing music, making movies, and doing god knows what else--occasionally assisted by older brother Larry (who I actually know a little better than his younger brothers) and others. But I can't tell you what bands either of them is currently in (if any). Perhaps you can tell me.

I used to play this LP a lot when I was at WWSU. My favorites were always the two that mentioned Dayton: "it could be heaven just as well" and "my town has no cafes." The latter would, I think, make a fine anthem for the Gem City. Check out some of the more appropriate lines:
in a place i'll call 'nowhere'...

my town has no cafes
no place for us to say,
'we're tired, so tired, of the same dead things'

down in my familiar gutter
with nothing left to utter
it's late, it's late, late, late Dayton
It's not exactly T.S. Eliot (okay, it's not even Elliott Smith), and the average Daytonian may find it difficult to sing at Dragons games. But if poetic aptitude and vocal accessibility were prerequisites for an anthem, do you really think people would've put up with "The Star Spangled Banner" for two centuries?

(then again, maybe TOXIC REASONS' "Ghost Town" would make a better Dayton anthem? no money... no fun... Yeah, that's what I'd pick. Ah, but who am I kidding? If Dayton ever adopts an anthem, it'll probably be something by GUIDED BY VOICES -- or ALAN THICKE...)

The music here is fairly straight-up mid-'80s new wave: heavily flanged guitars, cavernous reverb, esoteric lyrics--reminiscient of THE CURE, NEW ORDER, and THE SMITHS (though with a few nods toward rock-a-billy and mod rock, which sets them apart from most of their cookie-cutter contemporaries). Call it shoegazer, call it goth-pop, call it alternative. Whatever... you'll get a definite time-capsule vibe off this.

This LP was released on Cincinnati-based Heresy Records, which makes it an oddity among Dayton releases of that era. This is the only release I know of from Heresy. Most Dayton bands in the late '80s were releasing either on IWanna Records (TOOBA BLOOZE, THE OBVIOUS, THE HIGHWAYMEN) or under their own imprimatur (MOM, POETIC JUSTICE, BIG BROWN HOUSE).


Jeffrey Bright - singer
Mitchell Swann - guitarist
Luis Lerma - bass guitarist
Jeff Keating - drummer

The only other thing I can tell you about THE PLEASURES PALE is that "Lovely! Lovely!" appeared on the WWSU 4-Play record in 1987 and that Mitchell Swan apparently played in GUIDED BY VOICES in 1983 (or so I gather from this article from the Boston Phoenix). Even the GUIDED BY VOICES Wikipedia page missed that one.

The Boston Phoenix article also refers to THE PLEASURES PALE as "SMITHS-clones." I think that's a little too dismissive. Okay, they didn't break any new ground here, but Morrisey's overwrought sense of maudlin is (thankfully) absent. If nothing else, I can appreciate that.

Although popular here and elsewhere, THE PLEASURES PALE weren't everyone's cup of tea. Witness...
"Weak-kneed pop of all styles--from Byrdsy twang to Smiths-like laments to wimpy country to fey rockabilly. No bite, nothing to move me, except to move the needle. They even ask, on one song, 'so what is a sissy?' Look in the mirror, pal!"
---Suburban Voice #24 (1987)
About the rip, the end of track 9 has an a capella vocal by a woman who's not credited anywhere on the album. Right at the end of that portion, the vinyl has a bad repeater scratch that I couldn't work through. So I let it repeat three or four times and just faded the track out. It's not what the band intended, but I thought it sounded kind of cool. I liked it so much that I added a track at the end reprising the skip a few times with some additional flange and ambience. It fades up and then down in about 20 seconds.  [UPDATE 2-12-2013: On the re-rip this same skip made it impossible for me to get a good recording of the song immediately following it.  That song is "Lovely, Lovely," which also appeared on the WWSU 4-Play record.  To me, the two recordings sound identical, so I swapped out the crappy rip of "Lovely, Lovely" from this 12" and replaced it with the version from the WWSU record.]

My scanner is only 8.5" x 11", which is obviously too small to do this 12" sleeve--even in two passes. So there's no scans included in the download package. The best I could come up with is a photo of the sleeve, insert, and poster that I ripped off this ebay ad. To pay the seller back, here's a link to the ad where you can buy this record for $24.77 plus $4.50 for shipping and handling (Jesus Christ! $29.27 for this?!?!?! -- Gail got hers for a buck... I guess if you can work in a GUIDED BY VOICES connection (check the ad), you can jack up the price on anything!).

[UPDATE 2-12-2013: The lovely Teresa Winner was kind enough to take some photos of the cover, insert, and poster on her iPad.  Those pictures are included in this download.  The photos, however, are not high enough resolution to make the lyrics legible, so for those who want to read the lyrics, I made higher resolution scans of them.  Those are also included in this download.]

This record comes to us courtesy of the Gail Dafler collection. Gail wants to know if the kid in the poster is one of the Lerma boys. Anybody know?

Track List:

1. no, joy
2. my town has no cafes
3. in my dandelion field
4. monday mourn
5. love bites back sorely
6. uneasy's disease
7. all about men
8. a heavy coat of jokes
9. but she didn't
10. lovely! lovely!11. be
12. it could be heaven just as well
13. [uncredited female vocal (reprise)]

Download it! (63 MB) (line re-upped 2-12-2013)

UPDATE 2-12-2013: This is a new rip on better equipment -- worth getting even if you already downloaded the previous one.

Okay then, let's recap: the vinyl rip is shitty [UPDATE 2-12-2013: not anymore], The Boston Globe called them "Smiths clones," Suburban Voice called them sissies, and I compared their lyrics unfavorably to Elliott Smith's (and I don't even like Elliott Smith -- now there's a sissy for ya...). Is there any more abuse that my blog could possibly assist this cruel world in heaping on this utterly inoffensive (and not half-bad) pop combo from twenty years ago?

Oh yeah... I just noticed: that ebay ad I mentioned? It refers to them as "The Pleasures Principle." son of a bitch...

If anyone can tell me anything more about THE PLEASURES PRINCI-- uh... I mean, THE PLEASURES PALE, post a comment. I'm all ears.

take care


ps. I got the flyer scan from Don't you love it: "Dayton Invasion!"? (I came this close to renaming the blog...). And can you believe $2 to see GUIDED BY VOICES and RHINO 39? Those were the days... That show took place on January 11, 1986. RHINO 39 was incredibly popular 'round these parts as I remember, though they hailed from Los Angeles. They played a fairly original melding of punk and new wave. For more info, you can check their MySpace page. You can download RHINO 39's 1979 seven-inch record "Prolixin Stomp" over at the mind-poppingly expansive music blog Killed by Death Records. But be warned, KBD is more addictive than crack (and only slightly less addictive than nicotine). You'll download one record, then another, and another... soon you're out on the street trying to score LEATHER NUN MP3s... and before you know it, you're strung out on '77, pal!

pps. Don't confuse the punk (i.e. good) RHINO 39 formed in the '70s in L.A. with the heavy metal (i.e. heavy metal?) RHINO 39 formed in the '90s in Chicago.

[CORRECTION]: Okay, I noticed the flyer said "THREE area bands!" So I did a little digging and found out that the RHINO 39 that played that show was NOT the L.A. RHINO 39 (who, in fact, are really from Long Beach). No, there was a Dayton band called RHINO 39, which was actually my first impression, but when I found the California RHINO 39, I just assumed I was mistaken. Okay, so we've established that there was a Dayton RHINO 39. Now all I need do is locate some music by them. By the way, here's a link to a Dayton Voice article and an entry on someone else's blog, both of which mention the Dayton RHINO 39.

ppps. My next band is going to be called THE PLEASURES PRINCIPLE! (wasn't there a Star Trek episode called "The Pleasure Principle"?)

pppps. Goddammit? How long does it take to upload something to Rapidshare? The little progress bar reached 100% forty-five minutes ago, and it's just been sitting there like a dumb shit ever since! I gotta find a new host... Okay, there it goes.


Big In Day-town said...

Last I heard, Luis and his wife Elle were collaborating on a new music project. God, I love this blog! ;-)

Julian said...

poster is of jeff bright. swann was a member of guided by voices just before forever since breakfast was recorded. they recorded two songs at refraze which were much better then the rushed lp stuff. they never were released, the band split. 2nd version of the band was bright, l lerma, swann, t lerma, peyton earick and eric olt. earick, swann and olt are writing new stuff as of 2008 for something to do.

jones() said...

Thanks for the info. Could you clarify which band you mean when you mention "two songs at refraze" and "2nd version of the band." Do you mean Guided by Voices or Pleasures Pale?

By the way, Susan from The Know-All blog (the same one referred to in the post for RHINO 39 info) sent me the following information:

"Jeff bright from Pleasures Pale moved to SF and started a band called "Myself a Living Torch" with Chris Green and this guitarist Eric Schulz from Cincy. They were playing out there at least until the mid 90's (I lived in SF from 91-96)."

Anonymous said...

The two songs Swann worked on were on the very limited "Pissing in the Canal" cassette released in early 1984. The titles are "Angry Pillows (Gone Away)" and "Lockets of the Empress" but I didn't know they were recorded at Refraze. Swann is also credited as producer/engineer so I thought he recorded them on his 4 track machine.

Anonymous said...

Pissing in the Canal the aborted GBV album?

Julian said...

two other songs and second version of the band were both pleasures pale

jones() said...

Thanks for the clarification. If you happen to be in contact with any of those guys, see if you can get them to contact me. I'd love to post those songs, and I've no doubt people would love to hear them.

By the way, the second version of Pleasures Pale you mentioned: did that have anything to do with Frankenstein's Kind?

take care


jones() said...

By the way, the reason comments don't show up immediately is that I have the blog set to have all comments approved before posting. I do that only because I had some trouble with spammers posting advertisements -- which I wouldn't have trouble with if they were advertisements related to Dayton music or one of the bands on the blog, but this was for dating sites and porn and such.

Anonymous said...

Copies of this do exist (very few copies I've heard) it just never went beyond the cassette stage.

"Pissing in the Canal the aborted GBV album?"

Anonymous said...

JR said...

Copies of this do exist (very few copies I've heard) it just never went beyond the cassette stage.

Let me guess the people with copies are like Bob, Jimmy, and the Heed.

Anonymous said...

I have a copy and I actually made a copy of it for Bob because he couldn't find his. I know of at least one other copy that isn't in the hands of a band member.

Anonymous said...

Thats rather interesting.

Do you post on DtS?

Anonymous said...

I have a membership on DTS and have posted there.

palaeologos said...

Jeff Bright was still in the Bay Area last I heard (2001 or so). Country band called Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys.

Anonymous said...

i remember these guys. their LP had very poor production and sounded like soft poo but they were great live. they had a great guitar player and a singer that had a ton of energy. most of their songs were really good. i seen them a few times. i think they had two drummers.

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1imaginaryboy said...

Really cool blog, I only recently discovered The Pleasures Pale LP shopping in NYC at some absolutely incidental 'record' shop in the village...I hadn't asked the store owner if I could look/rummage in the cabinets beneath the 'public' bins (it was underneath in the dark corner under PILES of SHOW TUNES that I found it).

Anyway, you seem to be the person to verify a long time suspicion: Years ago a friend caught GBV in NYC on their "Insects Of Rock" tour and their manager sold/gave him original vinyl copies of whatever they'd available with them on tour ("Sandbox," "Same Place The Fly Got Smashed" & some of the newer items released at the time).

Advertised on the insert of one of the earlier LPs, likely "Devil Between My Toes," was a Robert Pollard solo 7" single or EP. I've never been able to find any information whatsoever on this vinyl apparition and I've wondering whether it even found release.

Awesome Blog & Thank You for even the most vague insight on this matter.


Joshua Gabriel

jones() said...

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about that. I may be the only person in Dayton who doesn't really care much for GBV. I'm not saying they suck or anything -- just that they're not my cup of tea, so I know almost nothing about them. Apologies.

take care


ursaminorjim said...

Pssst! Luis Lerma was also the bassist in The Amps!

Anyhoo, I saw these guys easily a half-dozen times when I was at Ohio University (for one semester, the Spring of 1987). And the Smithsiness was much more evident in a live setting, but in a good way. And I'm not sure, but I think they released a 7-inch as well. It may be back at my dad's house in Pittsburgh...