Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Make-Up split singles

The first time I saw the Make-Up perform was opening for Sonic Youth on the Washing Machine tour in Raleigh in 1995. I had never heard of the band, or of Nation of Ulysses, and was totally unprepared for the experience. I had never seen anyone be so outrageously glam and so punk rock at the same time. Towering bouffants, matching purple satin outfits, and Ian Svenonius flailing about on the floor of the stage like a maniac. It took me a few years to realize that he was possessed with that gospel yeh-yeh sound, and to become a convert myself. Once I did, though, I got my hands on whatever Make-Up releases I could find, including all their singles, none of which appeared on any album.

A few years later the band released the singles as a compilation entitled I Want Some (buy it here). This was, undeniably, a huge service to the public, and the CD makes for an astoundingly good listen, but as with so many such compilations, it loses a certain something that you get from listening to the actual records--not least of which is the fact that a number of these were split singles. Split singles are an interesting phenomenon when you're a huge fan of just one of the featured bands--the flipside is like opening a window onto an unexpected landscape, sometimes beautiful, sometimes not, but always a refreshing alternative to the music you bought the single to hear. And so, in this post I will do my small part to rescue these flipsides from oblivion:

The Make-Up/The Meta-Matics split 7", 1995
Black Gemini Records, no. 2

A: The Make-Up, "Trans-Pleasant Express" (2:19)
B: The Meta-Matics, "Absence of Rhythm" (2:39)

OK, so this Meta-Matics track has apparently already been rescued, courtesy Troubleman Unlimited's complete discography of the band (buy it here). According to Troubleman's website: "META-MATICS formed in Washington, DC during the summer of 1994 with the intention of cultivating their own musical language. Influenced by ethnic folk music, jazz, classical, and no-wave; they solidified their unique sound quickly, impressing upon bands such as BIKINI KILL and FUGAZI to take them along on tour. The raw energy and the joy of the music was the heartbeat of META-MATICS. They lived up to their name, destroying themselves after 1 1/2 years. The music continues to influence those coming from the punk idiom who want to break free of the self-imposed constraints. A truly groundbreaking band, and historical artifact. Members: Aaron Brenner: Guitar; Franke Vogl: Bass; Malcolm McDuffie: Drums; Chuck Bettis: Vocals. Aaron went on to AIRPORT BAR. Franke went on to RARAFRE+AM, ET AT IT, and HETH. Malcolm went on to CROM-TECH and HOLLOW MOUNTAIN. Chuck went on to ALL SCARS, TRANCE AND THE ARCADE, and founded Mass Particles Records. "

Slant 6/The Make-Up split 7", 1995
Time Bomb, no. 128

A1: Slant 6, "I Love You a Lot" (1:52)
A2: Slant 6, "Rebel, Rebel, Bat Cat" (3:14)
B1: The Make-Up, "We're Having a Baby" (1:55)
B2: The Make-Up, "This Is... Young Vulgarians" (2:01)

These Slant 6 songs, on the other hand, do not appear to have been compiled, and apparently form the band's final output before breaking up in 1995. There's info about them on the Southern Records website: "
SLANT 6 played their first show in the Summer of 1992 with Myra Power (Lucky 13) on bass, Christina Billotte (Autoclave, QUIX*O*TIC) on guitar and voice and Marge Marshall debuting on drums. Three songs were recorded at Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara and Ian MacKaye, and released as a single on Dischord in June of 1993. They did many small tours of the US, stretching from their Washington DC home all the way to the West Coast. For their debut album, the trio returned to the successful recording formula at Inner Ear with Don and Ian. Slant 6 took their name from an in-line six cylinder engine produced in the 1960's and 70's by Dodge for the Chrysler Motor Company. Originally produced with 170 cubic inch displacement, it was later enlarged to 225 Cl and finally 240 Cl for maximum power. It was noted for it's reliability and distinctive angle, banked at 30 degrees from vertical."

The Make-Up/The Crainium split 7", 1998
Slowdime Records, no. 16

A: The Make-Up, "I Want Some (Gimme Some)" (2:48)
B1: The Crainium, "Hatch as Hatch Can-and I Can-But Won't" (2:15)
B2: The Crainium, "The Mechanical Breast" (1:52)

I'm having trouble finding out very much about The Crainium--or maybe this post is just going on awfully long and I'm getting tired. I do know this - they were based in DC, opened for The Make-Up on tour, and after dissolving two of the members went on to form the much-acclaimed Gang Gang Dance. They also released an album, which should still be available for download at Ongakubaka.

The Make-Up/Lung-Leg split 7", 1998
Southern Records, unnumbered

A: The Make-Up, "Pow! to the People" (3:07)
B: Lung-Leg, "Krayola" (3:38)

Lung-Leg was a Scottish foursome, named after Richard Kern's starlet (and cover star of the Sonic Youth album Evol). This was their next-to-last single; most of the info about them on the web deals with their frequent line-up changes - read more about all that here. Besides that, there is a good little text on their myspace page: "
Lung Leg began around late 93 with 4 girls; Mo, Jane, Annie and Jade. They were pretty scrappy wee punks and had an ear for a good tune. Everything at the time was kinda crappy versions of Slint or really earnest hardcore so they got together.They liked to look glamourous just like Roxy Music and liked to have a good tune you could whistle like the Fall. Jade left around 95 or so, the usual story... They got a foxy boy drummer, todd, who could do a good Spector beat. They did a couple of Peel sessions which was an honour. They respected the RIOT gIRL THING but were more interested in writing a good tune. At times it seemed we were always classed as a 'girlband'. We hung around with The Yummy Fur, (Jane's brother is John) and made an album. Alex (now Franz Ferdinand) plays keyboards on a couple of tracks. MoMo left to have a little boy (and fell out with most of the band for a while) and Phillipa joined around mid 1997.The little boy remains a dedicated Bowie (in Berlin) fan. The band went to America and made an EP with the Makeup before splitting in 1999. However, it is believed that eyeliner is still applied badly in parts of Lanarkshire and Glasgow to this day."

Get all these singles here. Enjoy.