Friday, April 17, 2009
86 - Esoteric Champions of Atlanta Postpunk
Here is the download:
86 - Part One (Incl. Closely Guarded Secret and Minutes In A Day)
86 - Part Two (Incl. Provocation)
86 - Part Three (Incl. Way To Go and Singles/Comp. Tracks)
86 - Part Four (Incl. Live at the Metroplex - 1987)
Here is the listing:
1-7: Closely Guarded Secret
8-13: Minutes In A Day
26-34: Way To Go (Live at the Metroplex in 1986)
35-36: "Useless/Behind My Back" 1983 Single
37: "Man Overhead" from Twilight Records Compilation
38: "Inside" from Youth Culture Single
39-49: Live at the Metroplex in 1987
This post has been a long time coming, but I like to be as complete as possible in my coverage of bands on this blog, so I spent a long time connecting the gaps of their discography in my collection, and then procrastinating based on the amount of workload involved in a post such as this. I would like to graciously thank Rob Easterday for the Closely Guarded Secret and Way To Go albums, and Kim from Pineal Ventana for the soundboard recording of the show from 1987, and a certain unnamed friend of the band for some other bits and pieces included here. My intention is for this blog to really be a central gathering point for all these bands and their music (which has been out of print for years or decades) to be available for everyone to enjoy, and people like Kim and Rob really help so much in achieving this. Many thanks.
I only knew of 86 as a classic Atlanta postpunk band from the 688/Metroplex era circa 1983-1988, and would always see their Closely Guarded Secret and Minutes In A Day albums in record bins around town, but otherwise had no knowledge of them. Eventually I purchased Provocation and Minutes In A Day so I could hear what they were all about, but for some reason by that time the Closely Guarded Secret album all of a sudden became difficult to find. I never even made the connection that Mac McNeilly was the same drummer for The Jesus Lizard, among so many others, was also the drummer for 86. Yet another story of a local drummer taking the world by storm ala Kyle Spence and Gerhard Fuchs.
Listening to their music, they seem to be great guys and a great band of the era, in a family along with Honor Role or even a Mission of Burma. Definitely knew what they were doing, and some really professional drumming. I can see how Mac helped made Jesus Lizard what they were. I also liked how every member sang in the band, and seemed very democratic and diverse in their approach. Personally I lean towards the "Way To Go" Live album as my favorite of their recordings, as their music seems to translate better in a live setting and you can get a better picture of what they were about. I'm sure they played some amazing shows, but you really don't hear much about them outside the people in Atlanta who were around at the time. There is hardly anything on the interweb about them, and only a Myspace page and some Youtube videos to give any further glimpses into who they were. I did find this article about them in Trouser Press:
Like Honor Role, 86 was one of the few mid-'80s Southern indie bands immune to jangle-pop obsessions. Melodrama and juvenilia plagued its records, but, for the time and place, the Atlanta trio was worth noting.
Firmly rooted in collegiate post-punk, Closely Guarded Secret contains lots of new wave fallout and youthful squirreliness. Well-played but anonymous, the seven-song mini-LP is simple but enjoyable. Despite lame vocals, Ken Schenck's choppy, early-U2-ish guitar playing saves the ship. And is that a Police influence on "No Answer"?
The artier Minutes in a Day is less redolent of the rehearsal room. Mac McNeilly has matured into a tricky, hard-hitting drummer. Schenck loosens the reigns and cranks up the squawk. The dark title track is a guilty pleasure of edgy rhythms and reverb.
The final studio album dispenses with some of the amateurish tendencies of prior work. Max Koshewa's newly fattened bass thickens the previously anemic bottom end. Confident, louder compositions allow Schenck to squiggle all over the place. His solos weave a crooked, luminous path as the rhythm section locks into position. Still, the album suffers from whiny, Anglo-fixated vocals, clichéd lyrics (advice: don't print 'em) and overt politeness.
86 was reportedly one hell of a live act. To capitalize on that, its label issued Way to Go, a limited, farewell attempt to capture the onstage experience.
After 86 bit the dust, McNeilly picked up a bass and played in Phantom 309, who split an EP with Shenck's next project, the Sun Also Rises. Mac later reclaimed his drum throne for a long stint with the Jesus Lizard, netting his original group some posthumous notoriety.
Here is a video from their Myspace page, just to give you an idea what it was all about, or maybe give you a nice rush of nostalgia for those good old days: