If you didn't catch the DIY revolution of the 80s, Stella Peach's Wisdom Teeth is a good way to recap a segment of it. I'm trying to recall the most appropriate individuals to analogue, but the one that keeps persisting is Heather Perkins, who issued a number of cassettes 100% in the OLD home-studio concept by people who had talent but never a prayer of making it to Atlantic, Columbia, etc., not even SST (and you didn't have to be loaded down with chops to make it to that venue). And that was fine, as such individuals and groups had no intention whatsoever of getting into the rat-race Olympiad, perfectly knowledgeable of where they stood.
That vast army of musos, and there were thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them, was what stood in the interregnum between the hegemony of what had started with chokehold big labels in the 60s and then what the landscape would become as computers and the internet burgeoned, which we now see. Few of the indie era artists survived, I'm sorry to say, but some made it into various aspects of the small side of the alt-industry. Quality and quantity varied almost bewilderingly, but there was some very cool stuff issued by Jasmine Love Bomb, Freddie St. Jude, Nisi Period, Scott Fraser, Mark Hanley, Ernest Woodall, Jandek, Gregory Taylor, the Inserts, John Zawacki, and, well FAR too many to even begin to scratch the surface by naming names.
Stella Peach (Stella Roshi-Moles) would've indexed perfectly into one of the odder slots in that milieu, as Teeth is a good and likeable amateur effort that's kinda the outgrowth of pre-80s antecedents. There had, after all, been a decidedly odd side current in vinyl in the 60s and 70s, which exploded in the following decades, one that might best be seen in, say, Harumi and a number of hard-to-find old indie efforts. There were also a number of attempts at vanity labels, should a musician have the bucks for what was a somewhat expensive gambit in the day. The virtues of such enterprises were limited and quickly understood by both musician and consumer, a sympatico that did not result in terribly impressive sales.
Still among the persistent outfall, last time I checked, was Azalia Snail, though some, like The Space Lady, have been preserved as well, though mainly or only in the anarchic Irwin Chusid's work (books, radio, etc.). Publishers Weekly has described such work as "mere dog-like whimpers of success" while Bill Meyer cites opus collections of such musics as "so wrong, it's right" with musicians "united by their blithe certitude that the world needed to hear their unlikely but singular creations".
That's the case here. If you're desirous of the latest Kim Carnes or Cindy Lauper, you can forget it. But if Bongwater and similar wanting bands appealed to you, or if you'd like to hear what Melanie by way of Dory Previn on the chops level of Tiny Tim and Daniel Johnston might have come out like, this is as good as any. The recording is mid-fi and the grooves oft monotonous, but that's a part of the attraction of "incorrect music" or what might otherwise be called 'kitsch'. Not quite my cuppa cuppa, but it might be yours.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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