Today starts a new feature on the Circus Posterus blog called Three for Thursday. Every so often on a Thursday, we will ask some of the Circus artists and fam a question picking their brains. The premise is simple, Ill ask a question wanting three answers. (yes this is a throwback to the days of zines)
For the fledgling entry, we have the yo-yo master and a man behind many scenes at Circus Posterus, Mr. Steve Brown.
Today I posed this question to Steve, “What three albums changed your life?”
Now we let Steve tell us:
It’s absolutely impossible for me to do a “Top Three”. So many albums have changed my life at so many different times and places…Jawbreaker’s “Dear You” bled in to “Orange Rhyming Dictionary” by Jets To Brazil which led me to “Board of Rejection” by Gunmoll and those three albums kept me plenty sane at different points. How do I pick which album by The Clash meant more…trying to negotiate between “Sandinista”, the first album that made me really understand how much a band could push themselves even within the constraints of a major label and “London Calling” which was my first taste of white boys digging in reggae, and “The Clash” which was one of the first 3 punk rock albums I owned…it’s just impossible.
So here are three releases that meant a lot, but not until later. They didn’t rip the skies apart and change my world the second I heard them…but over the years I’ve gone back to them over and over and all of them have taken at least a decade for me to figure out how important they are to me.
In no particular order:
Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
The first DK album I actually heard was “Plastic Surgery Disasters”, and it was loaned to me my freshman (sophomore?) year of high school by Sean Mahan. I don’t think Sean realized the impact that he had on me in high school, probably because I never told him. He was one of the coolest people I’d ever met. There was a weird little trio of him, Patrick Billard, and Todd Blumenthal. Those guys had already forgotten more about music than I knew, and I would desperately eavesdrop on their conversations and furiously scribble down band names to look for later. I would beg, borrow, and steal to scratch up money to go to Einstein-A-Go-Go (an all-ages indie rock club at Jacksonville Beach) on the nights I knew they were going, to see bands I’d never heard of. I wanted to be cool so badly, it hurt. And those guys were just effortlessly cool.
So one day, Sean loaned me two cassettes…one was “Scratch N Sniff Car Crash” by the Swamp Zombies (I will maintain to this day that their fourth album, “A Frenzy of Music and Action”, is still one of the best albums ever released) and “Plastic Surgery Disasters” by the Dead Kennedys. He did this after my very disastrous attempt to strike up a conversation with him and Todd about some band that I was pretending to know something about in order to fool them into thinking I was cool. Todd was a hilarious guy who was also deeply sarcastic and could sniff out bullshit a mile away, and he quickly called me out on mine. Sean, I think, just felt bad for me when he saw the flush of burning humiliation creep in to my cheeks and he kindly rooted around in his backpack and handed me those two cassettes, saying only “I think you might like these.”
He was right. I did. I absolutely loved them, in fact. So much so that after my first listen that night, I wrote and dispatched letters to both bands’ record labels asking for a catalog and more information about those bands.
Doctor Dream Records informed me they were out of the first two albums by the Swamp Zombies, but sent me a catalog and some stickers. Alternative Tentacles sent me a loose cassette of “Fresh Fruit”, a catalog, some stickers, and a note that said “The case for this was smashed, but the tape works fine. It’s DK’s first album…if you like a band, always start at the beginning.” It wasn’t until years later that I saw someone get an autograph from Jello Biafra and recognized his signature…and realized that he’d written me that note and sent me the tape.
I played that tape until it died, and then bought it on vinyl and then again later on CD. And to this day, any time I hear a band I like, the first thing I do is hunt down their first release. Always start at the beginning.
Click More for the remaining two albums that changed Steve’s lifeRead More »Three for Thursday with Steve Brown