April 22, 2008

Comedy Minus One Hits Refresh On Out-Of-Print Silkworm, Rarities

One of our major concerns about indie rock -- and particularly the beloved early '90s indie rock we were reared on -- is all the music that goes out of print and/or never makes the leap to digital availability. Case in point: right now superlative indie act Lilys are selling the last virgin CD copies of the 1994 masterpiece Eccsame The Photon Band right now via its MySpace yert. According to a MySpace bulletin, the implosion of Spin Art Records "has somehow managed to take the rights and masters for the first 3 Lilys albums down with it." Incidentally, the fall of Spin Art, whose early catalog we hold particularly dear, is perhaps one of the most under-reported and unexplained occurrences in indie music in the last couple of years.

But we're straying far from our point, which is that some people are doing their best to make sure that the exemplary sounds of days and labels gone by continue to be available. One such person is Jon Solomon and his recently launched label enterprise Comedy Minus One. You may recall we reported here in October that CMO was issuing digitally certain records from the fabulous Karl Hendricks catalog, in addition to issuing the CD version of Bottomless Pit's solemn debut Hammer Of The Gods. Well, we received news today that the label is once again stepping into the breach to rescue from undeserved obsolescence a number of fantastic titles related to well-known, tragically scuttled Bottomless Pit-precursor Silkworm. The renowned indie act -- whose drummer was senselessly killed by a suicidal driver in 2006 -- released some records in the early '90s on labels that were not suited for the long haul. Among these is one that Mr. Solomon deems "the best record of the 1990s," Silkworm's black celebration Libertine. Originally issued by El Recordo in 1994, Comedy Minus One has shouldered the responsibility of digitally issuing the set for the first time. The wonderfully written and recorded Libertine contains much top-shelf indie rock music, not the least of which is the unparalleled album opener "There Is A Party Tonight In Warsaw," as well as the tracks "Wild In My Day," "Couldn't You Wait?," "Grotto Of Miracles" and "Cotton Girl."

But that is not all. Comedy Minus One will also issue digitally: the Chokes! EP [link], the final studio recordings from Silkworm tracked during 2005 with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago (the set was previously made available on CD by 12XU); Tim Midgett's It Goes Like This [link], originally released in 2002 as part of Three Lobed Recordings' "Purposeful Availment" CD subscription series; Ein Heit's 1997 set The Lightning & The Sun [link] which reunited Silkworm with Joel Phelps; and, finally, The Crust Brothers' Marquee Mark [link], a December 1997 performance at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle by a band comprising popular solo artists and former Pavement-fronter Stephen Malkmus and the three members of Silkworm.

Comedy Minus One's next physical release will be the Oxford Collapse Hann-Byrd 12." The digital releases noted above will arrive the same month. In the meantime, however, feast your ears on an MP3 from each of the sets.

Silkworm -- "Couldn't You Wait" -- Libertine
Silkworm -- "Bar Ice" -- Chokes!
Tim Midgett -- "Portable Life" -- It Goes Like This
Ein Heit -- "Summer" -- The Lightning & The Sun
The Crust Brothers -- "You Ain't Going Nowhere" -- Marquee Mark
[right click and save as]
[keep checking back at the CMO web sites linked above to see when the buy links go live]

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