Elim Hall – Let It Thrive

Elim Hall
Let It Thrive
1990 T-berdog Records
Ontario, Canada

Glen Teeple
Rosser Teeple
Steve Marsh

Side 1:

  1. Terry and the Pirates
  2. Woman
  3. A Silent Dove in a Distant Land
  4. You and Me

Side 2:

  1. Let It Thrive
  2. Too Much of a Good Thing
  3. Found My Way Again

This is one of those rare instances where a band put out a cassette demo after being signed to a major label. Elim Hall had signed to Reunion Records of all labels, releasing Things Break in 1986. Apparently they even toured with Michael W. Smith. The story goes that the label had no idea what to do with a deep, introspective adult alternative band and dropped them. So four years later the band returns and releases this cassette-only demo. It also starts off with a slightly more upbeat and joyful song before diving head long into alternative. If you are into this sound (a little influence from the Police, a little Canadian prog rock ala Common Bond here and there, a little U2, etc), this is an excellent example of the sound. Possibly even better than their excellent 1986 album. This tape and their full-length were re-issued on CD in 2003, but even that is hard to find these days.

Mitch Bohet – In Color

Mitch Bohet
In Color
1990 Auto Wreckords
Chico, California, USA

Mitch Bohet – Vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass
Jimmy Abegg – Guitars
Richie Cavanaugh – Guitars
Michael Roe – Guitars
Charlie Peacock – Keyboards, background vocals
Clayton Johnson – Keyboards
Tim Lancaster – Bass
Daryl Anders – Bass
Eric Heilman – Bass
Leo Gunther – Drums
Bruce Spencer – Drums
Aaron Smith – Drums
Jim Hall – Sax
Corinn Hooper – Background vocals

Side 1:

  1. Bottom of It
  2. Big Dream
  3. What’s Wrong
  4. Wandering Feeling
  5. I Owe You

Side 2:

  1. In Color
  2. Ragtop
  3. Paperdoll
  4. Living Dangerously
  5. New Frontier

This tape has quite the impressive list of players on it – Charlie Peacock, Michael Roe, Jimmy A, Aaron Smith, Bruce Spencer, etc. So obviously this is an alternative rock release. But it is really closer to the adult alternative rock of Charlie Peacock or later day Vector. Nothing rocks out that heavy, but none of the songs count as pop or middle of the road. It’s kind of a more organic, mature form of music if you aren’t familiar with it. However, I’m not sure where Mitch came from to have amassed such a high level of talent for a demo tape. I also don’t know what happened to him after this tape. The first track was included on the Big Rage! Volume 1 compilation.

Priority Paid – Sometimes We Scream

Priority Paid
Sometimes We Scream
1990 (no label)

J.R. Burns – Vocals, keyboards, harmonica
I.K.A. McDonald – Guitars
P.D. Downey – Vocals, acoustic guitar
O.M. Craig – Bass, vocals
R.E.S. Pye – Drums

  1. Back to the River
  2. Counting the Gains
  3. All Guns Blazing
  4. Footsteps in the Sand
  5. Madame Trousseau
  6. Shine

The cover to this gives off a very distinct 90s alternative, almost gothic feel. In fact, I think Saviour Machine used a similar photo effect on some of their early band pictures? Anyways, the sound is more late 80s Australian alternative/roots rock. Lots of energy, jangly guitars, passion, and pop sensibility. It’s like Midnight Oil, INXS, and early Newsboys all wrapped up into one, with a noticeable Steve Taylor influence. It’s not terribly innovative considering there were many bands like this at the time, but they do this particular type of music well.

American Zion – Odd Man Out

American Zion
Odd Man Out
1990 (no label)
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

  1. Odd Man Out
  2. Joey
  3. Never
  4. Fools for Christ

So I randomly heard about this demo on Facebook. I don’t have the demo itself, but I did find it on YouTube. Apparently most of this band changed the band name (and style) to Villanelle at some point after this demo. Villanelle released an album on R.E.X. Music, changed names to Smalltown Poets, and went on to CCM glory. I say apparently because I can’t find a list of who played on this tape (they also appear to have at least one other self-titled demo – year unknown). Now how this band got to be Villanelle is kind of a mystery – this is keyboard-driven hard rock. Very 80s in sound. Guess they decided to “modernize” after the 80s?

Missing Information: Who played on this demo?

John Austin and… the Embarrassing Young

John Austin
John Austin and… the Embarrassing Young
1990 (no label)
Chicago, Illinois, USA

John Austin – Vocals, acoustic guitar
Andrew Crawford – Electric guitar
Mark Phillips – Bass guitar
Bret Ferry – Drums, percussion

Erin Echo – Vocals (on the first two songs)

  1. The Embarrassing Young (Les Enfants Terribles)
  2. Island Girl
  3. Miss Nebula Jones
  4. You Should Be Ashamed

Early demo by John Austin who would release a full length album called The Embarrassing Young on Glasshouse Records in 1991 (produced by Mark Heard no less). Three of four songs on this demo made it on to the full-length. “You Should Be Ashamed” seems to only be on this album as far as I can tell. Of course, the sound here is a bit more stripped down and less produced than his full label release. But Austin is a great songwriter, so his slightly-alternative leaning singer/songwriter style is in full effect here as well.

Modern Poets – Politics, Poetry, and…

Modern Poets
Politics, Poetry, and…
1990 (no label)
Brisbane, Australia

Jonathan Sargeant – Vocals
Timothy Hills – Guitar, vocals
Ben Thomson – Bass
Phil Neil – Drums

Side 1:

  1. She Says
  2. Ethic of Love
  3. Rock of Strength
  4. Crushed
  5. Understanding Mary
  6. Driving

Side 2:

  1. Big Slide
  2. Planet Go to Rest
  3. Fall From Grace
  4. Forest Fire
  5. Everything is Fine
  6. Epiphany
  7. This Burning Town

I can’t seem to find much on this band online, except for a Facebook page which indicates this tape was re-issued on CD recently at a one-off reunion concert. The sound here kind of covers a wide range of late 80s to early 90s alternative rock. They start off with the happy sounding late 80s pop alternative of “She Says” and then jump into the swirling trippy early 90s alternative rock of “Ethic of Love.” I prefer it better when they are doing the trippy swirly stuff, as that reminds me of the type of music The Prayer Chain was kind of doing at this time. But the other stuff is pretty good as well. The tape cover makes it look like the title is Politics, Poetry, and… Chrome – which would have been cool. But apparently chrome is the tape, not the last word in the tape title. Think about your detail placement on covers people! Speaking of the cover, this is hands down the longest cassette cover I have ever seen. Not only does it wrap all the way around the back of the tape (in a tape box that has the spindles missing), there are 7 more panels folded away in addition to the two for the cover (the picture above is just half of it). There also seems to be an earlier 7-inch single for “Red Sun” and “Understanding Mary.” It seems they broke up not long after this release.

The Warning – Cut the Garbage!

The Warning
Cut the Garbage!
1990 Independent
Azusa, California, USA

Burrito – Lead vocals
Tracy G – Lead guitars, bass, noise makers

Mike Beatty – Drum programming
Rochelle Ann – Additional vocals on “Human Holocaust”

Side 1:

  1. Condemned to Hell
  2. Human Holocaust
  3. Blood Bath

Side 2:

  1. Don’t Touch Me
  2. Scream for Repentance (Psalm 51)
  3. Out of Control
  4. Cut the Crap

This is the censored version of Cut the Crap! From 1989 – meaning that they just changed one word on the cover to make it less offensive to people that found the word “crap” offensive. Weird, but such is the Christian world. It seems that sound here is a bit more metal and cleanly produced than Repent or Die! and A Virgin in the Midst of Whores. Don’t think they went anywhere near pop metal, though – it is still off the wall, chaotic, and a bit muddy sonic-wise. And of course, Tracey G is still showcasing the shred guitars he came to be known for in Dio and other bands later. Interesting that they feature a note about only reading the Bible and not getting into personal interpretations, and then release a tape full of their personal interpretations and political views. Lots of bands  did this – it probably just got confusing for music fans to determine which differing version of “just the Bible” was the real one 🙂 Also of interest is that this re-release of Cut the Crap! leaves off the bonus track “Love,” which I believe is the same song as “Whatever Happened to Love” from A Virgin in the Midst of Whores.