December 1, 1987
various artists cassette
[HAHX-2674] thermal transfer color copied inserts, dot matrix labels, red cassettes
With the third cassette release and others in the works, the idea of SLAMDEK/Scramdown becoming a record label was fully materializing. This compilation cassette, while still selling very few copies, at least got Slamdek recognized by Louisville’s then-much-smaller punk rock community via the Substance songs. The typewritten liner notes list a slew of “coming soon” Slamdek releases from which these songs are taken. However, only two of the eight releases noted actually ever existed, Rockhouse and Pink Aftershock’s first cassettes.
The cassette begins with a Pink Aftershock track called “Amy G.” which sounds like their first tape put into a blender. It is split-second samples from other Pink Aftershock songs interspersed with Amy Givan’s voice identification, “You’re listening to Pink Aftershock.” This was originally an untitled, hidden track on the first Pink Aftershock tape. That’s followed with the same version of “I Didn’t Want to Hurt You” from the first cassette.
Dez Kimberlin was to be a project with Betsy Porter singing and me playing the instruments. “The Night Before Christmas,” however, is the only Dez Kimberlin song ever released. It’s a noisy bunch of sampled noise set to a vague beat overlaid with samples from Louis Armstrong’s narration of “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Not only does Betsy Porter not sing on this song, but Erin Currens is listed as a co-producer, and she, too, had nothing to do with it. This song was recorded in stereo cassette overdubs. Jeff Hinton, Sabian, and I make our debut next as Dorian Grey. This song, “Lost: A Wall of Noise,” with Jeff’s distinctively clear, yet slightly off tempo vocals, could have aspired to have been found on the Psychocandy cutting room floor. The music was recorded in stereo overdubs, and the vocals direct to DAT. Near the end, Sabian lets out a scream that could cut through the ice at any party. The two Substance songs, by most accounts, save the SLAMDEK/Scramdown Christmas tape. Substance was a pre-Deathwatch/pre-Cerebellum grouping of Duncan Barlow, Jon Cook, Will Chatham, and Sean McGuirk. Their first cut, “Undertow,” marks the historic first occasion that real drums appear on a Slamdek release. The song is a classic instrumental highlighted by a crazy phaser effect on Duncan’s guitar. “Image”
Fall 1987, skating after Substance practice on Alta Avenue in the Highlands: Duncan Barlow, Will Chatham, and Jon Cook. Will’s parents’ house is in the background on the alley. Over the years, the room inside the top right window was a practice space for Substance, Lead Pennies, Cerebellum, Sunspring, Crain, and others.
has words and is a classic punk tune about egos. The last line is, “Do you have enough authority for your image?” These two songs are part of nearly a dozen that I recorded of Substance on November 7, 1987 at Will’s parents’ house on Alta Avenue in the Highlands. Within a few months of meeting Jon and Duncan, I was invited to record the band at practice. These were recorded direct to cassette through a 12 channel mixing board and arrived with remarkable clarity. Crain would coincidentally record “Nervous Woman Nervous Man” (from the Rocket 7″) direct to DAT in the same room with the same set up three years later. The Substance material turned out so well that Jon and I talked of releasing it as recently as 1993.
The second side of SLAMDEK/Scramdown Christmas begins with “Isolation” a two year old Rockhouse track pulled from the Youth Sunday cassette. Youth Sunday was available briefly in 1987 and 1988 as a reissue with a color insert on Slamdek (as was Pink Aftershock). Live material from the November 17, 1985 Youth Sunday show was added on side two, but, for some reason, this reissue was not considered an actual Slamdek release in 1991 when the catalog numbers began running consecutively (this comment will make sense much later in the book). “Isolation” is a noisy keyboard, drum, and vocal pop song recorded at my parents’ house in the summer of 1985. It’s followed by “A Problem,” a Pink Aftershock song completely by Dave Taylor and recorded on 4 track at his parents’ house near the Toy Tiger. Very similar to “Don’t Give In,” Dave created the entire song using guitar, drum, and bass samples loaded into an Emulator drum machine, then added his Thomas Dolby-esque vocals. “Sitting in front of this paper trying to write the words that say what I want to say to you. I don’t know what I want to say to you. I think and I stare but I’m not getting anywhere.” It was going to be on a compilation cassette called Aftershock Anomalies, a collection of songs put together after the first cassette came out, but before the band broke up. That release never materialized, either. The first Slamdek Christmas tape ends with “Three God Pages” from Dorian Grey. This cut, recorded the same way as our other, clocks in at five minutes plus, while the drum machine plays the same relatively slow pattern over and over. The super distorted, quite fuzzy guitar is drenched in feedback and covered with Jeff’s more subdued vocals, “Three days for a goodbye, relocated and suffocating and then on to Canada. I fear from what I write and read. Pages that fly into a blur, I’m out on the edge of nothing.”
Dorian Grey, 1987
SLAMDEK/Scramdown Christmas did not include printed lyrics or band rosters. The official lineups of the bands at that time, regardless of their participation on these tracks, are provided here:
Pink Aftershock: Mark Damron, keyboards & vocals; Larry Ray, guitar; Scott Ritcher, keyboards & vocals; Dave Taylor, electronic drums.
Dez Kimberlin: Betsy Porter, vocals; Scott Ritcher, instruments.
Substance: Duncan Barlow, guitar; Will Chatham, drums; Jon Cook, bass; Sean McGuirk, vocals.
Rockhouse (1985): Mark Damron, drums, vocals & keyboards; Larry Ray, guitar; Scott Ritcher, keyboards & vocals.
Dorian Grey: Sabian Aravis (Susanne Butler), guitar; K Scott Aravis (Scott Ritcher), guitar & drum machine; J Tora Hinton (Jeff Hinton), vocals & bass.
Liner notes as they appeared in the original release (including notes about other releases, those which were never created are flagged by a *. “LP” inferred long playing cassette, and “EP” as extra playing cassette, not necessarily vinyl):
01 Pink Aftershock Amy G.
02 Pink Aftershock I Didn’t Want to Hurt You
03 Dez Kimberlin The Night Before Christmas
04 Dorian Grey Lost: A Wall of Noise
05 Substance Undertow
06 Substance Image
07 Rockhouse Isolation
08 Pink Aftershock A Problem
09 Dorian Grey Three God Pages
01-02 from the LP, Pink Aftershock, HAHX-1313.
03 from the EP, Hate Day 16, HAHX-1182*, and on a single at HAHX-1180*.
04&09 from the LP, Fall, HAHX-1605*, and on a single at HAHX-1603*.
05-06 from the LP, Substance, HAHX-1797*.
07 from the double EP, Youth Sunday, HAHX-1562.
08 from the LP, Aftershock Anomalies, HAHX-1315*.
The SLAMDEK Winterize Now Sampler Cassette [HAHX-2674].
Special thanks to Erin Currens. Merry Christmas to all.