MIKE REP AND THE QUOTAS
A Tree Stump Named Desire (Anyway Records)
Ohio must be one of the strangest (and hippest) places on Earth. Not only is it the home state of well-known esoteric favorites Jarmusch, Thomas and Mothersbaugh, it's also where Mike Rep (a.k.a. Hummel) chooses to call home. Although Rep isn't exactly a household name like his native counterparts, he recorded his first 7" in 1976, the year Pere Ubu debuted itself to the world, and has been at it ever since.
After assisting Guided By Voices with "Propeller" in '91, things have gotten a little busier for Mike, who has put out four releases in as many years. His newest is about as individualistic and freaky as it gets, sounding as though he gets equal inspiration from Wild Man Fisher and Brian Eno. "A Tree Stump Named Desire" has the lovely sound of an immensely overdriven home recording. You know, the warm, fuzzy distortion of a 4-track with all of its meters pegged in the red producing a rich, noisy, yet harmonically pleasing listening experience. -DM
Repetition (Kill Rock Stars)
Unwound, Unwound, Unwound. The last great unsung heroes of the exploding universe. The final flash of brilliance before the dying of the light. The Hermes of Athena's temple, banging away at the iron doors erected against truth and beauty. Repetition is without a doubt their best since the immortal epic Fake Train, and while the music isn't quite as immediate as on that original masterpiece, it is nonetheless refined to the exact point of a diamond. Once again Steve Fisk (see Tape Op #3) mans the boards as though he were the invisible fourth member of the group, playing his instrument. More than any of their previous releases, this record perfectly captures the ecstatic live feel of Unwound — raw, angry, poetic and absolutely sublime. From punk to dub and free jazz, Unwound and Fisk go places that are beyond most of our dreams. Much like the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime, and Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, Repetition is the product of a band at the height of its musical prowess, who through the physicality of their sound define an exact moment in time. -DM
Melting in the Dark (Zero Hour)
It must be frustrating, as an artist, to always have to live up to your past. In Steve Wynn's case, the past includes Dream Syndicate's first album, The Days of Wine and Roses, a masterpiece of Velvet Underground-styled feedback drenched rock perfection. I've kinda ignored Mr. Wynn during his solo career, and what I heard was pretty washed out, over produced junk. Strangely enough, the merciful folks of Come, a rockin' Boston combo, offered to back Wynn up on an album, and here it is. Come seems to force him to rock out a bit harder than he has in ages, and the songs are up to it as well. It was recorded by the astute Wally Gagel at Fort Apache, in Cambridge, MA and mixed by Joe Chiccarelli (who sometimes makes albums sound too glossy, but not in this case) at Royaltone in Hollywood. All in all, a surprising success. -LC
THINGS THAT ACTUALLY GOT LISTENED TO DURING THE MAKING OF TAPE OP #4
Cat Power What Would the Community Think (Matador) I was prepared to not really like this but now I won't give it back to Scott who thinks it's gonna be his.
Mike James Kirkland Hang On In There (Luv N' Haight) A reissue of this soul/R & B gem from the early 70s. It's right up there with What's Going On in my book.
The Clean Unknown Country (Flying Nun)
Martin Phillipps and the Chills Sunburnt (Flying Nun)
Thanks Mike. I assume everyone listens to this stuff.
Robyn Hitchcock Gravy Deco & Black Snake Diamond Role (Rhino) Reissues of some great shit. The nightmare behind GD is a classic Tape Op story in itself.
Tobin Sprout Carnival Boy (Matador) Yeah, the positive review wasn't a lie.
This little story on the recording of "Rael" from The Who Sell Out is taken from the liner notes to the expanded, remixed CD version that came out in 1995. Excerpt from an interview with Al Kooper, who played organ on the track...
"We recorded most of the song in one day and then adjourned for a noon start the next day. We left rather hurriedly because we were fried from working so intensely... evidently the multitrack tape of 'Rael' was left on the counter unboxed. The cleaning woman came in and threw it in the trash but didn't empty it, so it lay there with soda and cigarette ash all over it. When (engineer) Chris Huston came in next morning... he was horrified. The first 15 seconds of the track had been compromised and would have to be done again. He was the one who was gonna have to tell Townshend. I wanted to see this encounter. So Pete comes boppin' in about 12:15 and Chris takes him in a corner and is talking very hushed to him. All that is audible are Chris' last words, "Pete, I'm sorry but sometimes these things happen..." Townshend is pacing back and forth inside the control room, when all of a sudden he picks up the engineers' chair and throws it through the control room glass partition, damage of roughly $12,000. Then he turned to Chris and said, "Don't worry, Chris... sometimes these things just happen."