The Nativology Series, which we hope you’ve been enjoying, has been running well over a year, and even we are constantly astounded by the treasures tucked away in our tape vault. And, it’s a very fulfilling thing to go back and listen again to recordings we made in the studio as we developed new songs.
That aspect of our tapes, the demos that were never intended to be heard by many outside our circle, as we knew we would redo them in a proper studio, with things like compression (and air conditioning) have formed the better part of three volumes. It’s safe to say we are truly chuffed, gobsmacked, and all hopped up on cake that this series has at last yielded these recordings to a much larger audience than we could have dreamed reaching in those halcyon days of pre-internet stone tablets, pony express, and record companies that saw versatility as a minus, not a plus.
As we reached Vol. 3 of Nativology, 1996 is the year we stopped doing multitrack demos, for the most part, and had turned to live gigs as a way to develop the songs. Accordingly, this series has turned its focus on performances from that era that exist on cassette tapes, recorded by our Manager and Friend, Paul Ducharme, where the rare, and soon to be rare, songs are the center of attention.
Ah, cassettes — a wonderful-sounding but very flawed form of media. Live performances didn’t stop and wait patiently for you to flip the tape when side one ran out. No, the band would soldier on with no thought to how posterity was being robbed of their utter, utter brilliance, and you would flip the tape as quickly as possible (additionally, if you are dancing, you were likely unaware that the side had ended at all!). Side two would have an inevitable gap as we rejoined several bars later in the same song, or in the middle of the next song, leaving everything buggered as far as listenabilty, much less releasability, goes.
Today’s tape has those flaws, but what is contained within the realms of those two swathes of high-oxide tape, is (as Ralph Kramden said) cherce!
On a personal note, I remember the night we played this show. There are certain nights that just live on with you, and the reason why is the remembrance of how happy we were on the ride home afterward. We knew we had really done something beautiful.
With a four-vocal front line, a rhythm section that could make falling down a flight of steps sound awesome, and the sinuous leads of the ever-impeccable Michael Jaimes, we stormed through 1996 like a Spanish Flotilla, only not… Spanish.
Native had developed into a band with many musical friends who liked to join up for a jam. Dirk is an old chum who raps really well. Listen to the bands’ prowess at just making-it-up, on-the-spot groove-spotting behind his rhymes. Sean Pace is an even closer mate who was a daily presence in our lives. He and Mike had a great dialogue going on, whenever they picked up their guitars. Here’s an epic example of that. (Also, this is the night Mike spontaneously came up with a little bridge in Look A Py Py that we kept going back to in each subsequent playing of that fabulous Meters classic.)
But, as previously noted, on this night the tape didn’t come out as well as expected. Aside from the chopped-off beginnings and middles of songs, there’s extra added befuddlement to be had from the distorted sound on the voice mics. I take it that the P.A. was running a little hot that night! But, I love it the same way you love a three-legged dog.
So here it is, in all its sonic, and out-of-chronological-orderliness deficiency —