Sigma Seven – Alpha

Sigma Seven
Alpha
1985 (no label)
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

John Gore

Side 1:

  1. Maelstrom
  2. Slow Fall
  3. Metal Umbrella
  4. Sandwalk (Dune)

Side 2:

  1. A Triptych on War
  2. Ulysses + The Sirens

This is a very ambient tape that is about an hour of keyboard ambiance. Sometimes the keyboard is harsh to the point that it almost reaches into the noise category, while others it is very mellow almost new age music. There are no true rhythm instruments utilized on this tape, and most of the keyboard sounds are long drawn out notes that blend into each other. These are sometimes interspersed with repetitive repeating successions of keyboard notes as well. Both sides are about 30 minutes long, it’s just that the two songs on side two are really long. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like it as a break from the usual metal and alternative.

Johnny J. Blair – The Green Album

Johnny J. Blair
Johnny J. Blair (“The Green Album”)
1985 Independent
San Francisco, California, USA

Johnny J. Blair – Banjos, basses, drums, guitars, organs, percussives, pianos, synthesizers, and lead vocals, except:

John Wilson – Bagpipes on “True Ecclesia”
Curt Hansen – Bass on “Politics and Religion Act One” and “(We’re Still) Bobbin’ for Apples, Adam”
Jonny V – Drums on “Goodbye Cruel Playground”; drums, mandolin, and vocal harmonies on “The First Stone”; drums and lead guitar on “When I was Out To Glorify Myself”
Scott Anderson – Drums on “Politics and Religion Act One,” “(We’re Still) Bobbin’ for Apples, Adam,” and “Names”
Tim Michaels – Drums on “I Love You Lord”
Dan Yacoubian – Lead guitar on “Ya Ya Ya,” “Politics and Religion Act One,” and “Politics and Religion Act Two”; lead guitar and vocals harmonies on “I Love You Lord”
Andrea Yacoubian – Vocals harmonies on “I Love You Lord”
Rick Savetto – Lead guitar on “Wind-Up Doll” and “Asteroid Danse”
Richard Sonquist – Kalimba and piano on “Scissors, Mercury, and Glass”
Bob Hogins – Piano and synthesizer on “Microscopic Coda”
Dave Barrett – Saxophone on “(We’re Still) Bobbin’ for Apples, Adam”
Cassandra Blair – Tambourine on “Locusts”
Mark Jones – Tambourine on “Microscopic Coda”
Scott Spenser – Trumpet on “Ya Ya Ya,” “Politics and Religion Act One,” “Politics and Religion Act Two,” and “Another Compleat Angler”

Side 1:

  1. Goodbye Cruel Playground
  2. The First Stone
  3. Weirder Than Money
  4. Eternal Life #2
  5. Desert Ruby
  6. Ya Ya Ya
  7. Politics and Religion Act One
  8. Rebellion Comes On
  9. When I was Out To Glorify Myself
  10. Locusts
  11. (We’re Still) Bobbin’ for Apples, Adam
  12. Politics and Religion Act Two
  13. Microscopic Coda
  14. I Love You Lord

Side 2:

  1. Names
  2. Eternal Life #3
  3. Him of Me
  4. Another Compleat Angler
  5. Scissors, Mercury, and Glass
  6. Wind-Up Doll
  7. Asteroid Danse
  8. Centered
  9. Someone Close
  10. Something’s Happening to Your Heart
  11. True Ecclesia
  12. Birds

Another gigantic collection of songs from Johnny J. Blair. Believe it or not, he does put out singles, eps, and regular length albums as well. It just seems that many of his underground tapes are large collections of songs from various sources. These songs were recorded over a five year period before the release of this tape, but some were written before that even. Blair states in the liner notes that he is going more for “artistic continuity” than “chronology” with these, and I would agree. Some are alternate takes of songs on Door in the Water, some are early versions of songs later re-recorded for other projects, and some never made it past this tape. Stylistically, there are many different genres in here (alternative, pop, folk, rock, do-wop, etc) that are still brought together to a stylistic whole. Also some interesting experimental noise/performance numbers that vary the flow of the long album nicely.

Willoughby/Wilson Band – World Walking By

Willoughby/Wilson Band
World Walking By
1985 Frontline Records

Allen Willoughby – Bass, background vocals
Jim Wilson – Guitar, vocals
Ric Blair – Guitar, keyboards, vocals
Bob Bounds – Drums, percussion

Side 1:

  1. World Walking By
  2. Make It On My Own
  3. Hall of Mirrors
  4. Throw Your Money
  5. Emotions

Side 2:

  1. Standing in the Wake of the Storm
  2. Educated World
  3. City’s On Fire
  4. Break Down the Walls
  5. Ready for the Storm

This is some early new wave / progressive rock that leaned majorly towards the pop side of the spectrum. This seems to be one of the first releases by Frontline Records, before they started absorbing several other labels and putting out all kinds of styles. This particular release is a very well written and recorded album. It appears that there may be some other releases by this band, a second album and / or an EP as well. It seems this was also released on vinyl, but I don’t think it ever made it onto CD.

Centre of Gravity

Centre of Gravity
1985 Stride
Cheshire, England, United Kingdom

Side 1:

  1. Pacific 231 – Psycho Moon
  2. Pacific 231 – Gare De L’est 1943
  3. The Dangerous Bros – On 45
  4. Vox Populi – Pygmies in the Park
  5. Vox Populi – Mind
  6. Vox Populi – Glassy Stare
  7. Face in the Crowd – Clown
  8. Face in the Crowd – Love is Like a Cancer

Side 2:

  1. Griff – Wrant – U – Wrant
  2. Griff – Poser
  3. Griff – Match’s Mate
  4. Celestial Orgy – Pig to the Abbatoir
  5. Celestial Orgy – Feminist
  6. Celestial Orgy – Maths
  7. Inlaws and Outlaws – Foot Inside Your Door
  8. Face in the Crowd – Summer Fool
  9. Face in the Crowd – A Strong Voice
  10. Face in the Crowd – Justice

This is a mysterious compilation from Stride that serves up several songs from mostly noise/industrial/experimental bands – with a few exceptions. So who is on it? First off is Pacific 231, a noise/experimental project by Pierre Jolivet of Paris that has been going since the early 80s. If the band name sounds kind of familiar to you, Pacific 231 has been on some split albums with Psyclones, also an early noise/industrial band that was composed of Brian Ladd (aka Blackhouse) and Julie Frith. I can’t find these songs listed on any Pacific 231 releases, so they might be exclusive to this comp? I can’t find any information on The Dangerous Bros, but they appear to be an experimental free-form band with guitars. Vox Populi has also collaborated with Pacific 231, but is a band from France that has been around since the early 80s. They have an experimental noise sound as well, with some vocals and instruments. Face in the Crowd has released many tapes in the Christian tape underground, usually of a more experimental band sound, with some spoken word parts, some sung parts, random instrument playing, etc. Griff has also been featured here before, but he is experimental folk rock with an extreme British sense of humor. Don’t know much about Celestial Orgy, but it seems they only have compilation appearances listed on Discogs. They appear to be the closest thing to a rock band on here – definitely some alternative guitar and drums, but still more experimental than most alt rock. When they hit the high pitched vocals, it almost reminds me of Danielson. Inlaws and Outlaws is another band I can’t find much on, but they also are the most traditional industrial/electronic band on the compilation (although many others use industrial elements).

Terms of Peace – Thunder Cracks

Terms of Peace
Thunder Cracks
1985 Patmos Records

Paul Case – Vocals
Mark Case – Guitars
Keith Moore – Bass
Mark Snell – Drums

Side 1:

  1. On My Way
  2. Rise Up
  3. I Think I Know
  4. Valley of the Souls
  5. Greater Love

Side 2:

  1. Thunder Cracks
  2. Every Day
  3. Your Love
  4. Live Now Live

I’m not totally sure if this album belongs in the tape underground, as it was released on a label that also released bands like Philadelphia. I actually own this on vinyl, but my copy is pretty scratchy. So hearing a pretty clean tape transfer was nice. This tape had no cover or label indication, but some decent printed tape labels, so I am guessing this was a promo copy sent out for review? Anyways, Terms of Peace was a mid-80s alternative rock band. They leaned towards the pop side of alternative, with a touch of roots rock here and there, all while avoiding new wave influences while still featuring keyboards. Also a bit of U2 in the guitars. This was a pretty quality effort that I have always liked, even though it seems to have gone under most people’s radar. I wonder how long it took them to get that cool cover photo of the band walking while lightning strikes in the background? Or is it a doctored photo?

Thin Red Line – Thin Red Line EP

Thin Red Line
Thin Red Line EP
1985 Ode Records
Auckland, New Zealand

Dave White
John Kennedy
Karen Rush
Steven Thomas

Side 1:

  1. Life Blood
  2. Daddy’s Song

Side 2:

  1. Ethiopian Dream
  2. Spectre

So the collection I am digitizing has a tape that was a dub of three of the Thin Red Line demos. But it was a weird copy that had the left channel nearly muted. If you listened closely, there were distinct instruments on the left side that should be heard. So I had to crank up the left channel, remove the massive hiss that this created, realize that the music sounded funny, and then copy the left and right channel over to the other channel. The result was… okay. There is some digital distortion from removing the hiss. Not too much. I may also make a mix without cranking up the left channel. But anyways, this is the third demo by Thin Red Line, a year after Seclusions Paradise and a year before Simplicity. Simplicity and Lie of the Land were also on this mix tape, but I have a real copy of Lie of the Land that digitized well. The sound here is the same as the others – male and female-fronted alternative rock with some experimental and indigenous influences along with socially conscious lyrics. Dave White went on the form The Clear and Lung, both of which sound different from this. The image above is from the vinyl version of this release.

Blood and Fire – Who Is It?

Blood and Fire
Who Is It?
1985 (no label)
Guildford, England, United Kingdom

Karl Allison – All vocals except 3, 6, 10
Harry – Guitars, keyboards (4, 10), effects, vocals (4, 6, 10)
Alvin Allison – Keyboards, vocals, effects
Simon Barnett – Drums, percussions, keyboards, vocals, drum programming
William Booth – Extract from “Through Jordan”
Simon Herbert – Bass

Side 1:

  1. This is the Noise
  2. Get the Grip
  3. I Should Have Known
  4. When the Bomb Drops
  5. Who is It?

Side 2:

  1. Everything I Need
  2. Disintegration
  3. Sight for the Blind
  4. Part Time Soldier
  5. Our Father

I’m not totally sure if I know what this band is going for. It’s kind of too punk-ish to be straight up rock. But the keyboards and pop-ish song structures keep it from being punk. And the keyboards are not really new-wave-ish, either. Also, none of those genres really go for 8-minute long songs. It seems like this is British rock with some alternative/punk leanings. I could see this band finding a home on Plankton Records. Also, I noticed that the spine has BAF 002 on it – probably indicating that this is their second demo. But I have no idea if there were others after this one.