REPOST: Early Years FAQ v3.0

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Myke Weiskopf

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Nov 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/18/97
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Hi there folks. It's been about a year and a half since I was a regular
here but I thought that since the demand was so high from personal e
mails, that i'd repost this for everyone's use. I haven't bothered to fix
the details that are different from the liner notes of THEN-- a few facts
don't correspond-- but that's cos I don't really have the time or energy
anymore. Take care.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

** THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
** Early Years Handbook
** v3.0

** by Myke Weiskopf (my...@shore.net)

aided by John Flansburgh, Jamie Kitman, Jill Knapp, Bill Krauss,
John Linnell, Bo Orloff (o...@dnai.com), Francesca Parker
(flpa...@woodlawn.uchicago.edu), Mike Weiss (Mu...@aol.com),
Aaron T. Porter (atpo...@entropy.muc.muohio.edu), Brian D.
Kane (bk...@pldac.plh.af.mil), Dan Spock.

While the facts contained within this document are not copyrightable,
the style, organization, and content of the document is (c) 1996 Myke
Weiskopf. Please do not reprint or quote without permission.
This document features information previously published in OBSCURE
Magazine, No. 5 ("They Might Be Giants"), which is (c) 1994 Obscure
Publications / Myke Weiskopf, and in the THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS INFO
CLUB newsletter Winter 1995, which is (c) 1995 TMB Productions, and the
liner notes to THEN, which is (c) 1997 They Might Be Giants / Restless
Records.

This document can be accessed via the WWW:

* http://execpc.com/~jerk/ey_faq/

This document answers questions (obscure and common) about the music,
life, and spirit of They Might Be Giants from the years 1982 to 1989,
collectively known as The Early Years, encompassing The Bar/None Years
(1986-1989) and The Krauss Years (1983-1988).

=================================================================
QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO...

1. 1983-1985 [Including all early releases]
1.1 When did They Might Be Giants first:
a) meet?
b) begin recording together?
c) play out?
d) release recordings?
e) meet Bill Krauss?
1.2 Had the Johns been in any bands previous to playing in TMBG?
1.3 What was the first They Might Be Giants song...
a) ...ever?
b) on their very first demo?
1.4 What are the lyrics to "Hell Hotel" on the 1985 demo tape?
1.5 Where / how did the Giants meet the Ordinaires?
1.6 How did Dial-A-Song start?
1.7 What is a "Pal Joey revival"?
1.8 Tell me about the 1985 Demo!

2. "They Might Be Giants" (1986-1987)
2.1 What does the sample at the beginning of "Rabid Child" say?
2.2 What the hell is that sample in "Number Three"?!?
2.3 What's the "Close-N-Play" that is mentioned in "Toddler Hiway"?
2.4 Why is "Absolutely Bill's Mood" called that?
2.5 What's this about the Johns going on the radio and playing
Dial-A-Song demos? What station? When?

3. "Lincoln" (1988-1989)
3.1 Where does the source material from "Snowball in Hell" come from?
3.2 Why are the Johns so infatuated with the '64 World's Fair?
3.3 What is "Purple Toupee" about?
3.4 Why are the lyrics wrong/out of order in the liner notes?
3.5 What's the deal with the cover art?
3.6 Why are there extra words to "Piece Of Dirt" in the lyric book?

4. Identification Questions
4.1 I enjoyed Adam Bernstein's videos for TMBG. What else has he done?
4.2 Where was the video shot for
a) "Puppet Head"?
b) "Don't Let's Start"?
c) "Ana Ng"?
d) "Purple Toupee"?
e) "They'll Need A Crane"?
f) "Rabid Child" (also see 4.3f)?
4.3 Is there a real...
a) Chess Piece Face?
b) Rabid Child?
c) Ana Ng?
d) Toddler Hiway?
e) Sadly, The Cross-Eyed Bear?
f) "Rabid Child" video?
4.4 Who is/are...
a) Kurtis Blow?
b) Margaret Seiler?
c) James McIntyre?
d) Ouida Bailey?
e) those old guys in the "They'll Need A Crane" video?
------------------------------------------------------------------
THE ANSWERS

1. 1983-1985 [Including all early releases]

1.1 When did They Might Be Giants first:
a) meet?
b) begin recording together?
c) play out?
d) release recordings?
e) meet Bill Krauss?
------------------------
a) John Linnell and John Flansburgh met in Lincoln-Sudbury High
School (Lincoln, MA) in the mid-1970's. Flansburgh had heard
about Linnell due to the latter's famed comic books and strips and
his love of avant-garde music such as Frank Zappa. Linnell says,
"John was always calling me up, and I didn't know who he was
really. He'd call and go, 'So. Linnell. What's happenin'?'
Flansburgh had authored a minor existentialist work-- a play in
100 acts, all of which were two lines long. "He felt that Linnell
might somehow understand," writes Adrian Deevoy of _Q_. "He
didn't." Before long, the two were collaborating on minor
experimental tape projects using Flansburgh's tape machine(s).

b) The Johns began recording shortly after moving into the same
apartment building on the same day in New York City in 1982.
(A note on that: this was not entirely coincidental, as they
carpooled to NY together with a mutual friend.) While at first
the Johns recorded independently, they eventually played on each
other's demos regularly.

c) The Johns' first show was as "El Grupo de Rock And Roll" in
1982, in Central Park. The group, it is said, performed in
front of a group of Sandinistas who spoke no English (hence the
name). Another rumor (perpetuated by Linnell) goes as such:
"It was January 23rd. We played 23 songs, although we had only
planned to do 22. There were 23 people at that show. We each
made 23 dollars. I was 23 at the time." The first show as
They Might Be Giants took place at Dr. B's, a Soho showcase
club in Soho.

d) They Might Be Giants' first official release was a one-sided
7" flexi-disc (round, not square) in 1985, produced by Bill
Krauss and engineered by Al Houghton (with drum programming by
Chris Butler). The tracks were "Everything Right is Wrong"
and "You'll Miss Me", both of which resurfaced in drastically
re-arranged versions on THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS and LINCOLN,
respectively. The "Wiggle-Diskette" (as the record pronounces
itself) was released on TMB Music. Its cover features a photo
of a young girl at a wool machine threading wool, with a small
photo of the Johns (looking demented) at the bottom. At the
top, the simple yet elegant words "THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS" in an
elongated Helvetica. It was limited-edition 1000, released
on January 1, 1985.

Their 23-song demo tape followed later that year, featuring
demos of many songs off of their debut album, as well as another
version of "You'll Miss Me". It featured several LINCOLN and
B-side tracks as well. It was re-issued in limited quantities
by the Hello Recording Club (John Flansburgh's pet project) in
1993. (See the Demo Tape-specific question for more info.)

e) John Flansburgh met Bill at Antioch, at which time Bill was in
a band called the Functionnaires with another high-school chum
of the Johns', Dan Spock. Flansburgh produced the Functionnaires'
first demo on his four-track recorder. Bill became the Johns'
soundman in 1983; their first show together was at CBGB's in New
York City.

1.2 Had the Johns been in any bands previous to playing in TMBG?
------------------------
John Linnell had played saxophone in a band called The Baggs while
in college. "There was a moment when I'd step out and do a solo.
But I'd just bought the pick-up for my sax and when the time came
all I could play was the highest note! I moved all my fingers
around and nothing happened. The wire on my pick-up was holding
open one of the valves on my sax. I had just played a one-note
solo," he remembers.

Linnell also played keyboards and saxophone for Rhode Island's
Mundanes, whose demo, 7", and unofficial live concert recording
were filled with .. well .. mundane new-wave love songs in
the vein of .. well .. pretty much every band on the new-wave
circuit at this time.

John Flansburgh played in a band called the Blackouts.
"I was wearing pyjamas. I was 20 years old," he recollects.
Also on the shortlist: The Turtlenecks, featuring Chris of
Annabouboula.

1.3 What was the first They Might Be Giants song...
a) ...ever?
b) on their very first demo?
------------------------
a) "Space Suit", which later turned up on the post-Bar/None album
APOLLO 18, was written by Flansburgh as an exercise in jazz
chord structure as per his instructor, Jack DeSalvo. Flansburgh
says, "It was originally titled 'I'll Remember 3rd Street' to
reflect its jazzy origins, but once the recording was made with
the spacey synth part its final title seemed more appropriate."

b) The very first song on their very first demo was "Now That I
Have Everything", a popular Dial-A-Song staple during the Early
Years and, to a lesser degree, thereafter. The song was demoed
in 1984. In the Winter 1995 edition of the Info Club bulletin,
they claim that their first recorded song was a cover of Yoko
Ono's "Don't Worry Kyoko." "We sang with faux-Rod Serling
voices," they say.

1.4 What are the lyrics to "Hell Hotel" on the 1985 demo tape?
------------------------

------------------------------------------------
"HELL HOTEL" from the tape THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS.
(c) 1985 They Might Be Giants / TMB Music.
------------------------------------------------

Salutations paint his karma, [?] in fighting words
Got his mean streak from his mother, ha ha ha
Now Love Boats paint his liver, with eyes on the city lights
Collapsin' on the upbeats or relaxin' for the night
He steps into a crazy hotel, the desk clerk hands him soap-on-a-rope
What does he mean by this?
Bellhop takes his flashlight, takes John up to his room
Va-va-va-voom this is a sweet life, Anthrax on the couch

We're here to entertain you, or have you seen this episode
We're the ancient order of robots dials, we're putting you
at the controls
Welcome to Hell Hotel

Sports cars and the gamblin', John's winning every night
Well there's certain smells John can't repel, but Momma it
can't be right
He bolts awake laughing, but no one's in his room
And the big boss man doesn't understand why John can't smile no more

We're here to make you happy, that's all that we are programmed for
But you say this pleasure's a pain for you, Sebastian C. could tell
you more
Welcome to Hell Hotel

Bill Krauss adds:

I think Flans said that the song was based on a "Twilight Zone" episode,
but i can't remember which one. "Sebastian C." is Sebastian Cabot, who
you may remember as the butler on the 60's sitcom "Family Affair."

1.5 Where / how did the Giants meet the Ordinaires?
------------------------
Bill says, "We met the Ordinaires at 8BC, which was run by a
couple of guys named Dennis and Cornelius. It was the greatest club
in the world for about two years. They had something like 3000
performances in two years. It was running non-stop. They had plays
in the afternoon and performance art at dinner time, and bands at
night. It was just a wonderful time. It may have been the first
time we played there. People liked to book TMBG with the Ordinaires
because there were nine people in the Ordinaires. Logistically, it
was really easy, because to have another full band when you had the
Ordinaires on stage meant moving a whole lot of equipment. We did
some shows at the Pyramid for them and the Village Gate. In the
very earliest shows, the Ordinaires had been around a bit longer
and had more of a following, so we opened for them."

1.6 How did Dial-A-Song start?
------------------------
In 1984, the Johns had been playing shows, writing, recording, etc.
However, the world stood on its own head when John Flansburgh's
apartment was broken into; all of his earthly possessions, including
his four-track, were stolen. That same week, bike messenger Linnell
fell off of his bike and broke his wrist, rendering him unable to
either perform or work. Since neither of them could do much of
anything, Flansburgh began putting TMBG songs on his answering
machine. This apparently caused a lot of problems at first;
whenever anyone would try to contact Flansburgh, not only would they
have to wait through the song, but they had to scream at the top of
their lungs to get Flansburgh to come to the phone at the end. "I
tried to talk him out of it," says Linnell. As all early Giants
fans know, the early Dial-A-Song was "message-capable", a quirk
which gave the Johns a lot of source material to use. One
particularly memorable message features a woman (Gloria) talking to
her friends about the mystery of "There May Be Giants". An "edit" of
this conversation was tacked onto the _HOTEL DETECTIVE_ EP
(Bar/None A-HAON 006), unmarked but referred to by insiders as
"The Lady". Several other messages were saved and broadcast
as bumpers when the Johns guested on East Orange, New Jersey's WFMU
(91.1) radio station in March of 1987 ("Frank O'Toole Show").

1.7 What is a "Pal Joey revival"?
------------------------
"Flansburgh has a Sinatra thing. He's really into Sinatra. I
remember when the Kitty Kelly book came out about Sinatra, he read
it right away. He's just got this thing about 'what it means to
be Sinatra'. He's very interested in the phenomenon. So, 'Pal
Joey' was part of that. He really liked 'Pal Joey,' and he decided
he wanted to do some of the songs from 'Pal Joey' one night."
-- Bill Krauss
The Johns performed:
"There's A Small Hotel"
"Lady is a Tramp"
"My Funny Valentine"
"Bewitched"

Jill Knapp says that the middle two songs were actually taken from
a musical called "Babes in Arms", which is another Rodgers-Hart
production.

They have definitely performed "Tramp" and "Valentine" on numerous
occasions; they played all of the above except "Tramp" at the
Knitting Factory (NYC) in June of 1989 during a special "Pal Joey
Segment". Whether or not this was the actual "Pal Joey" show is
not known, but the segment was referenced in _CV_ Magazine as a part
of the Giants "neo-Dada absurdist" early performances, indicating
that the first performance was of older vintage than this one.
"Lady Is A Tramp" was later issued on Bar/None's EP collection,
MISCELLANEOUS T.

1.8 Tell me about the 1985 Demo!
------------------------
About the 1985 Demo:
* 23 songs.
* Cassette-only.
* First issued on TMB Music in 1985; subsequently reissued with
the premiere of John Flansburgh's Hello Recording Club in 1993.
Flansburgh has sworn not to reissue the demo tape again.
* Recorded at Studio PASS, New York, by Alex Noyes and Bill Krauss.
Other fun information:
The 1985 demo tape was recorded, like the other unofficial TMBG
recordings of the time, during sick days and late at night, after
the two Johns and Bill had finished work. Often the sessions would
go from 10 PM to 4 in the morning or later-- time was scarce.
The Johns had secured a special deal with Alex Noyes, who worked at/
ran the studio during its normal hours, which enabled them to work
after the studio had officially closed each evening, until it
reopened the next day. Most of this time was probably spent
programming the Fairlight, a monstrous computer sequencing/sampler
superstation which not only had a full, weight-sensitive keyboard,
but also had a full-size computer screen, keypad, and light pen for
operation! (The Australian workstations ran about the price of a
new car.) Much of the tape was sequenced on this machine-- the
noises at the beginning of "Hope That I Get Old" were taken from
the Fairlight. The cover (featuring a photo of the Johns wearing
the giant "Puppet Head" hands seen in the video) was created on
a Macintosh by Bill Krauss and John Flansburgh. The early TMBG
logo shown on the cover-- a haphazard, chunky serif font-- was
also emblazoned on the early fezzes which could be purchased via
mail-order. The reissue slicked up the cover and cleaned up the
graphical rough edges, but (save for the back flap and the
cassette itself) was roughly identical to the original issue in
immediate appearance.

2. "They Might Be Giants" (1986-1987)

2.1 What does the sample at the beginning of "Rabid Child" say?
------------------------
"Lord, please don't take me away."

2.2 What the hell is that sample in "Number Three"?!?
------------------------
When cleaning a recently-vacant apartment with roommate/
superintendent Chris in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, NY,
Linnell uncovered a stack of obscure polka recordings,
including one titled "Skinny Lena." Linnell says:

"At some point I figured out a way to make the record skip in
4/4 time during the [alto sax] riff while the 45 was played at
33, which became the repeating figure on TMBG's recording of
Flansburgh's 'Number Three.' "

2.3 What's the "Close-N-Play" that is mentioned in "Toddler Hiway"?
------------------------
It's an archaic kids' record player which does not play until
the lid is shut -- hence the name.

2.4 Why is "Absolutely Bill's Mood" called that?
------------------------
Around the time that "ABM" was being written and brought into the
studio for the first time, a great deal of the equipment was
frying out and going insane. Bill K. was rather perturbed about the
whole situation, and the song-- obviously about a man in crisis--
was named in his honor. The use of the word "Absolutely" is a
nod to Bob Dylan's mid-60s habit of adding adverbs/adjectives to
song titles for no apparent reason-- "Most Likely You'll Go Your
Way And I'll Go Mine" and "Absolutely Sweet Marie" being two such
examples.

2.5 What's this about the Johns going on the radio and playing
Dial-A-Song demos? What station? When?
------------------------
This show, which has passed into TMBG legend as the "WFMU Tape",
was broadcast in March of 1987 on WFMU, East Orange, NJ, on the
Upsala College campus (91.1 FM). The show-- actually a special
edition of the late-night "Frank O'Toole Show"-- was comprised
of the Johns playing ancient Dial-A-Song classics from the original
master tapes, performing live, and generally engaging in bizarre
shenanigans. Opening with a special live-show introduction from
1985 (talking about a car decorated with uniquely-scented kittens),
the show continued with over an hour of non-stop TMBG madness,
including the legendary "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You"; original
demos of "The World's Address", "For Science", "Snowball In Hell",
and dozens more; and live performances of "Birds Fly" and "Kiss Me,
Son Of God", among others. It also aired a series of Dial-A-Song
prank calls, show introductions, TMBG promo radio skits (dating
back to 1985!), and other high weirdness-- including a lengthy
discussion of Robert Polk's beard. A portion of the acoustic
performances from this program were issued on a double-disc WFMU
donation-solicitation compilation titled "Upsalapalooza" [still
available for $27 from WFMU; see http://www.wfmu.org/] in 1994.

3. "Lincoln" (1988-1989)

3.1 Where does the source material from "Snowball in Hell" come from?
------------------------
Krauss, 1994: "It's a dub off of something I gave Flansburgh
for his birthday in 1985. I bought it at a bookstore in my hometown
in New Jersey, and it's from a tape from some kind of series on how
to manage your time effectively. I saw it on a rack with a bunch
of tapes on how to make the most money in your life, how to relax..
It was just a bunch of 'how-to' cassette tapes. I was just flipping
through them, and Flansburgh's birthday was coming up; I came across
'How To Manage Your Time Effectively', and I thought, 'Flansburgh
will find a way to use this.' And so I gave it to him for his
birthday. And we ended up putting it in 'Snowball'."

3.2 Why are the Johns so infatuated with the '64 World's Fair?
------------------------
The World's Fair-- a now-defunct world-famous bash celebrating
technology & invention-- was a huge event in its heyday, drawing
thousands upon thousands of wide-eyed spectators to observe the
festival. John Linnell visited the '64 World's Fair as a child.
Obviously, it made a profound impression on him. The Fair turned
up as a mysterious, unknown kind of alternate world in Linnell's
"Ana Ng"-- "All alone at the '64 World's Fair / 80 dolls yelling
'Small Girl After All' / Who was at the Dupont Pavilion? / Why was
the bench still warm? Who had been there?"
Flansburgh has been known to hunt all '64 World's Fair items
obsessively, recently proudly noting that he had finally located
the '64 World's Fair souvenir record.

3.3 What is "Purple Toupee" about?
------------------------
"Purple Toupee" is sung from the vantage point of someone the
Johns' age, born in the tail end of the '50s or very early
1960's, who was alive during the '60s but has only the vaguest
recollections of what it was all about. This person's memories
of '60s politics, although declared in an authoritative tone,
are totally muddled and shambolic. To this person, the only
real link he has with the '60s are the flashy clothes: the
"purple toupee and gold lame" of the chorus. The clothes are
the representation of the entire decade, politics and all.
(If this interpretation does not sit well with you, I wish
to inform you that it comes straight from John Linnell.)

3.4 Why are the lyrics wrong/out of order in the liner notes?
-----------------------
Because Flansburgh, not paying great attention to detail, typed
them up at work. The lyrics on "Piece of Dirt" are the original
lyrics that were later re-written.

3.5 What's the deal with the cover art?
-----------------------
Created by zithermaster/furniture craftsman Brian Dewan, it
pictures John Linnell's great-grandfather (L), Louis T. Linnell,
and Flansburgh's grandfather, whom he facetiously (?)
identifies as General Hospital. The monument, which sits
in Flansburgh's apartment, stands slightly higher than a
television set on an average-size TV stand. The photos
in question also appear in the "Ana Ng" video.

3.6 Why are there extra words to "Piece Of Dirt" in the lyric book?
-----------------------
The extra words are heard on various live versions of the song
(including the first-ever performance, on New Year's 1988)
but are not sung on the album. Although the recorded performance
was later altered, the lyric sheet remained the same.

4. Identification Questions

4.1 I enjoyed Adam Bernstein's videos for TMBG. What else has he done?
------------------------
Well, this is only a partial list, but I know of the following:
B-52's, "Love Shack" video
ADRIAN BELEW, "Oh Daddy" video
FRANK BLACK, "Headache" video
"IT'S PAT: THE MOVIE", director
NICKELODEON: Various shorts + other stuff
RAGE TO LIVE, "Enough Is Never Enough" video
"Santa & Marilyn: The True Story" short movie
WEEN, "Push Th Little Daisies" video

4.2 Where was the video shot for
a) "Puppet Head"?
b) "Don't Let's Start"?
c) "Ana Ng"?
d) "Purple Toupee"?
e) "They'll Need A Crane"?
f) "Rabid Child" (also see 19f)?
------------------------
a) The Giants' first video, "Puppet Head", was shot in New York
City-- Williamsburg, to be exact-- with Adam Bernstein in 1986.
The video was filmed on what NME called a "Brando-style water-
front, a derelict wasteland from which ferries used to operate,
shipping folk over the river to East 14th Street in Manhattan."
The Williamsburg Bridge looms in the background of the location,
of which Linnell says, "I had a bike stolen out from under me
riding across there!"

b) "Don't Let's Start" was filmed at the site of the '64 World's
Fair in New York City. The large arena-styled amphitheatre in
which the Johns are bouncing around was the centre of activity
at the Fair.

c) The "Ana Ng" video was filmed at a fireman's training
center in Wards Island, New York.

d) The "Purple Toupee" video was filmed at Coney Island. [Thanks
to flpa...@woodlawn.uchicago.edu (Francesca Lynn Parker) for
this answer.]

e) "TNAC" was filmed in Central Park.

f) "Rabid Child" was shot in Flansburgh's kitchen.

4.3 Is there a real...
a) Chess Piece Face?
b) Rabid Child?
c) Ana Ng?
d) Toddler Hiway?
e) Sadly, the Cross-Eyed Bear?
f) "Rabid Child" video?
------------------------
a) Chess Piece Face was the derogatory nickname assigned to a guy
that the Johns worked with at a record store when they were in
high school. The guy's exact name has since been lost to time.

b) Rabid Child is not known to be based on any specific person, but
a famous country tune, "Teddy Bear" (once by Red Sovine), tells
a similar story of a disabled CB operator.

c) The most popular Chinese (or, according to Flansburgh, Vietnam-
ese) name in the New York telephone directory. No special
connection, but the Johns say that it was not written from
their perspective but that of someone on the opposite side of
the world from Vietnam (hence "Make a hole with a gun _|_ to the
name of this town..." etc).

d) A Massachusetts-based Toys R Us apparently existed at one time
wherein the manager of the store would fill the parking lot with
new toys for the kids to test out and play with before the store
opened each morning. This particular toy store is the basis for
Toddler Hiway.

e) The 'Sadly, The Cross-Eyed Bear' of "Hide Away, Folk Family"
fame is, in fact, nothing more than a bad Catholic-school pun.
In an old hymn, the line 'Gladly the Cross I'd bear' is sung--
mutated by Sunday school smartasses into 'Gladly, the Cross-Eyed
Bear'. In keeping with the song's disconsolate tone, the
bear's name was changed to 'Sadly'.

f) That depends on how you define "real". Flansburgh made the
rather unusual video in his kitchen; it consisted of little more
than Flansburgh hugging a door jamb and staring dreamily at
the camera. No, you -can't- get copies of it anywhere.

4.4 Who is/are...
a) Kurtis Blow?
b) Margaret Seiler?
c) James McIntyre?
d) Ouida Bailey?
e) those old guys in the "They'll Need A Crane" video?
------------------------
a) Kurtis Blow, as in "you're free to come and go or talk like
Kurtis Blow" of "Where Your Eyes Don't Go" fame, was a famous
rapper of the mid- to early-1980's who released several awful
rap albums on Mercury Records. One major hit was "Basketball",
wherein he implored listeners to go "to the hoop, y'all".

b) Margaret Seiler was the woman who was responsible for
introducing Flansburgh to Bar/None co-president Glenn Morrow.
It was she who placed the demo in Morrow's hands, and it is
also her sonorous tones which can be heard on "Boat Of Car".

c) James McIntyre was a member of the high-school clan of which
the young Johns were a part-- a group of highly intellectual,
clever, and highly literate kids who had an irrefutable lust
for life and the pursuit of knowledge. The most talented and
gifted of these kids was not Flansburgh or Linnell, but James
McIntyre-- who, while still in high school, was writing for
the Boston Phoenix, spinning records on the local community
radio station (eventually becoming the director), and performing
random acts of extreme intelligence. McIntyre was a tremendous
influence on Flansburgh and Linnell-- Flansburgh credits him for
being the first to play him the Ramones-- but, sadly, his life
was claimed as one of the earliest victims of the then-unnamed
AIDS virus circa 1983.

d) Ouida Bailey was a far-out science teacher at Lincoln-Sud High,
which the Johns attended. She is, incidentally, still alive and
well.

e) From the Winter 1995 Newsletter:

"They are professional old guys. The drummer worked for Frank
Sinatra in the 50s. The bass player is retired from music and
currently writes crosswords for the Daily News, and the keyboard
guy is an actor."


Yer Pal Paul

unread,
Nov 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/18/97
to


Myke Weiskopf <my...@shore.net> wrote in article
<64qn2d$4...@fridge.shore.net>...


> Hi there folks. It's been about a year and a half since I was a regular
> here but I thought that since the demand was so high from personal e
> mails, that i'd repost this for everyone's use. I haven't bothered to
fix
> the details that are different from the liner notes of THEN-- a few facts
> don't correspond-- but that's cos I don't really have the time or energy
> anymore. Take care.
>

Hi Myke,

I'm sure that lots of folks here are happy to see you post again (I am).
Does this mean we can look forward to you making regular (or semi-regular)
contributions again?

Regardless, care to give us your thoughts on the THEN release?

--
Yer Pal Paul

Michael Weiskopf

unread,
Nov 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/23/97
to

Yer Pal Paul (Pau...@aol.com) wrote:

: I'm sure that lots of folks here are happy to see you post again (I am).

: Does this mean we can look forward to you making regular (or semi-regular)
: contributions again?

No, probably not. TMBG have dropped out of my life completely.
I've come to a fundamental conclusion that the sources they
were influenced by (XTC, Costello, etc.) are better than their
own material. One man's bloody opinion etc.

: Regardless, care to give us your thoughts on the THEN release?

I was extremely disappointed. First of all, there's the artwork.
The cover illustrations don't particularly call to mind the
work done by Greenblatt or Dewan, and considering the amount of
crazy artwork that they had done themselves for early flyers,
posters, demos, etc., they could have chosen someone other than
late-period illustrator Tony Millionaire for the job. Or,
most preferably, they could have done it themselves. As far as
the liner notes, they were pretty much taken from various Info
Club bulletins over the years, with a few little things added in
here and there. Same goes for the photographs, which were printed
in the Nostalgia section of the bulletin and/or in magazines of
the era. Since I've had access to more early stuff than most
people, maybe my opinion is slightly biased, but even so, it's
all readily available information. The "remastering" job is
negligible. As a recording engineer, to my ears, it sounds as if
they merely fed it into a Mac and used computer editing to splice
the tracks down to their approximate beginnings to eliminate hiss,
and then faded them out quicker (witness Puppet Head). Lincoln
sounds essentially the same to my ears. The bonus track selection
is paltry and of mixed worth. While some of the tracks are very
welcome, there are others ("Fake Out", "Big Big Whoredom") that
could have been left off for others like "How Much Cake Can You
Eat" or even any of the four early demos for "Puppet Head". They
used the "edited" version of "I'm Def" which appeared on the "Statue"
CD5 as opposed to the full demo-tape version. They murdered the
1985 interview segment to create the pointless "segue" track
"Doris Cunningham". And they added that godforsaken "particle man"
sung by schoolkids, which is not only uninteresting but also
Elektra-era. (It was written earlier, but that wouldn't excuse
them from including "Birdhouse"-- written in Feb 1989-- either.)
I would have rather they followed up on their long-standing promise
to re-release the demo tape in its entirety (as with the limited
Hello cassette) rather than pick and choose some odd selections
from it. There is a second demo of "don't let's start", for
instance, which blows the included one away, as well as a LINCOLN
demo for "It's Not My Birthday". Overall, there was very little
in this set that i hadn't seen, heard, or gotten over. Pity.

Incidentally, I work for Rykodisc now, and we still have copies
of the Mono Puff "Devil" b/w Sister Puff 7" available, which,
I'm told, has been difficult for many people to obtain. Call
1-800-2-EARFUL to order, or visit http://www.slowriver.com
for information. Take care.

Myke

Daniel S. Johnson

unread,
Nov 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/23/97
to

Michael Weiskopf wrote:
>
> Incidentally, I work for Rykodisc now, and we still have copies
> of the Mono Puff "Devil" b/w Sister Puff 7" available, which,
> I'm told, has been difficult for many people to obtain. Call
> 1-800-2-EARFUL to order, or visit http://www.slowriver.com
> for information. Take care.
>
> Myke

I'd just like to take a moment to reaffirm just how very cool Rykodisc
is. At a local record store, I bought a copy of David Bowie's _Low_ in
which the teeth inside panel of the jewel box had already broken off,
rendering it unable to hold the CD properly. I e-mailed the folks at
Ryko, and they sent me a brand-new, free replacement for the pretty
green jewel box in due time.
Thank you, Rykodisc!!! [cheesy smile]

Dan
--
Try My Sad Little Web Page!
http://www-scf.usc.edu/~danieljo

"Do you think the Hard Rock will buy Bill Berry's eyebrow?"
-my cousin Jennifer

"Cotton killed my mother!"
-(guess the allusion, win a prize!)

Nic

unread,
Nov 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/24/97
to

Daniel S. Johnson wrote:
>and they sent me a brand-new, free replacement for the pretty
> green jewel box in due time.

They only sent you one?
HA! sucker!!!!!

I merely filled out a postcard from one of my Elvis Costello CDs and
under "comments" I wrote that their jewel boxes sucked (except, of
course, for the color) and they sent me 10 new ones!

-nic

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