Welcome to UNBREAKABLE RECORDS

A List of Things We Lost is the rare vinyl blog of the sometimes corporeal, always ephemeral Unbreakable Records.

Nothing posted here will be found on a compact disc. Links are lingering somewhere at the end of each post; go find 'em!

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Monday, June 23, 2008

WHY DON'T WE TRY EXPERIMENTS?

Since I inadvertently began A List Of Things We Lost with an album from the year of my birth, I'm just gonna keep moving forward in time.

We're almost at the 80s, but not quite yet. Ooh, but when we get there. . . .

Though The Headboys isn't quite a horrible rarity, I haven't found anyone, even among the Flea's hipnoscenti record browsers, who've heard of the band or heard the album... So this one's for you, Brooklyn!

Edinborough residents Lou Lewis (guitar and vocals), George Boyter (bass and vocals), Calum Malcolm (keyboards and vocals) and Davy Cross (drums and vocals) formed the hypertight but short-lived Headboys in 1977. Their self-titled debut [RSO RS-1-3068] arrived in 1979 on impressario Robert Stigwood's label. The band recorded it themselves in Malcom's own studio, in conjunction with Peter Ker (who'd produced hits for the Motors).

I love The Headboys for its sonics, the sea of guitar and keyboard tones and the way they're all layered. Lewis is a killin' guitarist and, what's more, the record sounds great despite the band's misleading DIY sloganeering on the back: "Nae dolbies, nae aphex, nae bother."

Lead-off "The Shape Of Things To Come" has little in common with the similarly-titled Yardbirds rave-up; rather, it's an upbeat pop romp that had chart success in both the U.K. and the U.S. (just check out some comments on other blogs to see how fondly people remember the song). "Stepping Stones", likewise, has nothing to do with the Monkees, though the verse rocks like vintage Traffic - hell, they even go out on a hot-ass leslie'd guitar solo. But the chorus always gets back to a classic powerpoppy hook, sweet as a sugar doughnut.

The 'boys infect your ears and take over your head with the same jaunt as Elvis Costello had at the same time, perfectly mixing 60s mod-pop with modern arrangements and not wasting a note. Every tune has something to recommend it, from pub singalong choruses to tasteful analog synths, quirky but not overused. "Experiments" (whence the title of this post) predates both the sound and themes of Thomas Dolby's later smash "She Blinded Me With Science." Oh - and it's much better.

Though they'd been playing together for two years before the album was released, and "The Shape Of Things" was getting good airplay, the Headboys decided they were nonetheless unprepared for life on the road, and retreated from the wake of their minor success back into the studio. Their second record never did see the light of day, and I'm happy they maintain their own Myspace page, which does feature some unreleased tracks.

According to the band's own bio, they were reluctant to become part of the New Wave trend, despite the message of "Changing With The Times". Maybe it's because, as one listen to The Headboys demostrates, they thought they were simply making music, not waving a flag for a genre.

1 comment:

Matthew Stevens said...

I purchased "The Headboys" in 1979, when I heard "Experiments" on a local radio station KGAB 95.9 FM in my hometown Oxnard, California. I love the whole second side of this album, but the song "Experiments" was a hard driving song with that guitar grinding on the first part of the song. I was hooked as I listened to the rest of that side of the album, I loved "Gonna Do It Like This", "The Ripper" & "Breakout". I never get tired of this album (which I still have in my collection) I recommend it to anyone who likes hard driving power-pop & some great music.