Nov 302011

Will Your Mystery Date Be a Dream or a Dud?

I’m glad people liked our latest Mystery Date, “I Gotta Know,” an early single by Cleveland underground band Human Switchboard. When I downloaded recently a 21-track collection of their first album, which I regretted having sold years ago to support something of an ephemeral nature, and other releases from their late-1970 through early-1980s career I was pleased by how much I still enjoye their music. Who’s Landing in My Hangar was one of those albums a young me wore as a badge of honor. It felt really cool to not only own and dig that album but a mid-’80s solo album by primary singer-songwriter Bob Pfeifer, the guy who’s voice reminded you of Lou Reed, David Johanssen, Richard Hell, and the like. Long ago I also sold that pretty decent and really obscure album to fund the same ephemeral experience. Sad.

Anyhow, Human Switchboard was a pretty cool little band, if you ask me, that has failed to generate the hipster critical acclaim I would think they have coming to them. Check out these two opening songs from their lone studio album, “(Say No To) Saturday’s Girl,” sung by groovy organ player Myrna Marcarian, and the title track. Right off the bat the band did a great job of sequencing their range of ’60s pop and more biting garage-punk, occupying a place smack in the middle of early Blondie and artsier NYC bands like Television.

[audio:|titles=Human Switchboard, “(Say No To) Saturday’s Girl”] [audio:|titles=Human Switchboard, “Who’s Landing In My Hanger”]

A couple of fun facts, some of which I learned in my few minutes of research in preparation for today’s reveal:

  • Prior to the band’s “I Gotta Know” single they self-released an EP that was mixed by our unfortunate Mystery Date “dud,” Pere Ubu’s David Thomas! (I’ve also been digging those 4 songs, which I never knew existed until the other day.)
  • The somewhat legendary Hoboken scenester Dave Schramm (eg, original lead guitarist for Yo La Tengo) was an original band member.
  • Drummer Ron Metz would later join Schramm in his band, The Schramms.
  • Pfeifer would move from leading underground music projects to becoming a major-label A&R man. He’s also made his bones as a novelist. Smart guy!

RIP Jane Scott

 Posted by
Jul 052011

Every Rock nerd in Cleveland (let’s make that northeast Ohio) knows who Jane Scott was. Jane was the Rock Music critic for The Plain Dealer. She was at the first shows in Cleveland by The Beatles and The Stones and I swear she was at every show that ever mattered here in Cleveland, or at the major US festivals. I saw her all the time, and she was always fun to talk to at a show. The trick was to catch her between acts or right before showtime, when she wasn’t talking to the bands and the music hadn’t started. She wore white go go boots a lot of times, and she was the oldest person in the room by the time my concert attending part of life came along.  She was 92.

She wrote in a very enthusiastic style, and she tried to find out why people liked every band. She was no Rock Snob, and I really don’t remember her ever writing a really negative review. She used really funny words, like “kicky” and she would never be confused with some Rock Critic that thinks they are enlightening us to some heretofore unknown truth. Jane was writing about having fun, and her weekly column, The Happening, outlived almost every underground weekly entertainment magazine by decades. The Cleveland music scene was made better by Jane’s 50 or so years of going to concerts, and performers big and small, as well as fans, are all going to miss her.


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