Thursday, December 16, 2010
Moon Records Vol. 2
So, It's been almost a year since my last post. I don't know what happened but time really got away from me. I have recently resurrected the blog, though, and have been going through an updating old posts and preparing some new articles for the near future. First up is the next volume of my trek through the Moon Records catalog.
Dieter Osten- East of Eden (Toast 11/ Toast 12)
This is another weird one from the early Moon catalog. This is a full length album released in 1986 by Dieter Runge, the man who brought you the East of Eden 7" single 2 years earlier, both songs from which can be found on this full length LP. There are only two reggae/ska songs on the album, one being "Sea of Happiness" from the single. The rest of the album is just really good rock and roll. Some of it almost borders on having a Mod influence.
Toasters/Beat Brigade split 7" (Toast 13/ Toast 14)
This 7", released in 1987, contains one song each from The Toasters and Beat Brigade. The Toasters song is "Talk Is Cheap" and is the same version of the song found on their album. The real gem is the Beat Brigade song, "Try and Try Again." Last time we heard from Beat Brigade it was "Armageddon Beat" from N.Y. Beat. That song was a catchy, fun calypso number. This time around it's completely different. "Try and Try Again" is a fast and incredibly catchy ska tune. It might be the fastest song they ever wrote and it's definitely my favorite. From that infectious guitar hook, to the horn lines, to the vocal melody that will have you singing the chorus in your head for weeks after hearing it, it's just about the perfect modern ska song.
Legal Gender/ The Scene split 7" (Toast 15/ Toast 16)
This split 7" between two very cool bands also came out in 1987. Legal Gender only released this one song before going through a slight personnel change and becoming the NY Citizens (more on them later). Their contribution to this split, "Overcast," sounds nothing like the fast, fun, danceable ska the Citizens would become known for over the next couple of years. Instead, it is more of a midtempo, dark, moody ska song with a punk chorus reminiscent musically of what The Scene and The Press were doing at the time. The Scene were a NY punk band who alligned themselves with the NYC ska scene. They had their song "Walking" on NY Beat a year earlier. This time they give us an even better song, "Bruise In Me." It has traces of the Oi the Press were doing at the time, while channeling the mod/punk of early Jam (circa In The City/This Is The Modern World). Where "Walking" was fast and fun in the spirit of '77 punk, "Bruise In Me" shows how they'd grown musically in just one year with a slowed down song that showed off much better and more intricate songwriting while maintaining the catchy, sing-a-long feel of "Walking."
Second Step- Do You Know This Man? b/w 2 Men In Suits (Toast 17/ Toast 18)
Another 7" was planned for release in 1987 but it, unfortunately, never saw the light of day. It's a real shame because Second Step were fantastic and apparently unstoppable and unmatched in a live setting from what I've heard from people who were lucky enough to have been there. There are obvious parallels to be made between Second Step and The Selecteras both had charismatic front women with the occasional male vocal. Neither bands had large horn sections either. The Selecter sometimes used Rico Rodriguez and Dick Cuthell on recordings for trombone and trumpet respectively and Second Step had a permanent sax player and, at least for part of their career, a trombone player. All similarities aside, Second Step did their own thing and did it well. They generally went for a slower reggae sound as opposed to the uptempo ska happening all around them though they indulged in the Manhattan funk/rock sound which permeated through the scene in the late 80's with the song "Friction" (See Urban Blight and the Skinnerbox's Tales of the Red). It's really a shame this single never came to be because both songs are amazing. I have an interrupted live version of "Do You Know This Man?" and a demo of "2 Men in Suits." "Do You Know This Man?" is a very fun song with an incredibly catchy horn line. The verses border on early reggae and ska and is the fastest and most upbeat song I've heard by the band while the chorus goes into a darker reggae before the horns come back in and speed it up. "2 Men in Suits" is a slower reggae with a hypnotic sax riff and a very mod/soul chorus. I recently had the opportunity to see Remi (Second Step's lead singer) perform "2 Men in Suits" with the Beat Brigade at B.B. King's. I'm sure it was the closest I'll ever get to seeing Second Step.
*thanks to Marco on the Bass and Dave Barry for hipping me to more Second Step music than just the one track on the New York Beat LP. They were always one of my favorite bands on the comp and finding out there was more and actually being able to hear it was a great surprise.
Learn more about the Moon Records catalog by reading my previous article on the label here.