[Photo: "William H. West's Great Achievement, The Storming of San Juan Hill." copyright 1899. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.] This live recording, on which the defunct Mendoza Line is augmented by Misra labelmates Summer Hymns, is from the preliminary, Salty Records version of the band's 2004 odds and sods collection Sent Down To AA. More importantly, it is #60 on the Clicky Clicky 200 [read all CC200 posts right here]. Well, that's probably not more important, but it is germane, as it is the reason we discuss the tune today. The climax of the song -- one of seven the band logs in the aforementioned collection of our favorite 200 tracks -- softly collapses into a loose pile of quiet undulating guitar lines after hypnotizing for several minutes. Such collapse did not have far to fall, as the airy layers of guitar, bass, organ, glockenspiel and murmured lyrics are at times just barely held aloft by accented drumming and maracas. Plus, as history has shown, The Mendoza Line existed in an almost constant state of falling apart.
The interview clip that overtops this recording's opening seconds was taken from an appearance on radio broadcaster WMBR on April 24, 2003 prior to a club performance the same night. In fact, we were the one who captured the interview off the airwaves and handed it to the curator of Sent Down To AA [thusly we earned one of our several cherished liner note thank-yous]. The entire interview is hysterical. Our favorite quip is band fronter Tim Bracy's response to the radio host's [we believe it was Keith Sawyer of the Thursday edition of the Breakfast Of Champions show] question "When did [The Mendoza Line] first become a band to you guys?" Mr. Bracy's response: "I don't know. We're hoping it'll kick in tonight."
For those of you keeping score at home, the actual Misra release of Sent Down To AA has a different running order than the Salty Records version. Misra's official release includes a demo of "Under Radar," a live, country-fried version of "Dollars To Donuts," "Trading Deadline," "Whatever Happened To You?" and "The Kids Are Out." Those tracks displaced "Closer To Me" and "Make It Art" from the Salty running order. There is a further curiosity in the Misra liner notes, which state "more Mendoza Line curios and anomalies may be heard on It'll Be The Same Without You: AA Vol. #2. To our knowledge that collection was never released, although it may have been compiled. We've sent an email to see what we can learn about it. It is possible that the collection was rolled into a rumored Mendoza Line box set that never came to fruition. Which is a shame.
Other trivia? The band first three records were released on Kindercore, and said records are out of print, and if you want to buy a copy of Like Someone In Love right now at Amazon.com it will cost you $55.50. Thing is, just the title track is almost worth that amount of money. But we digress. "On Stage Dying" is a phenomenal ballad, it's #60 on the Clicky Clicky 200, and we've posted it below. The Mendoza Line disbanded early last year after the dissolution of the marriage of Bracy and co-fronter and songwriter Shannon McArdle. Ms. McArdle released a nice debut solo collection, The Summer Of The Whore, last month on Bar/None.
The Mendoza Line --
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