Saturday, March 27, 2010


While we're on the topic of Mark Robinson, here are a couple of early compilations put out on his Teenbeat label. Mark founded Teenbeat in 1984 with Andrew Beaujon, Phil Krauth, Tim Moran, and Ian Zack, who all attended Wakefield High School together in Arlington VA. They modeled the label after Factory Records, numbering all their releases starting with the "Extemism in Defense of Liberty is No Vice" compilation tape, which was released on February 23, 1985. The interest in numbering has been tied up with a strong archival impulse, marking special numbers with special releases and often releasing updated "books of numbers" that catalogue all the Teenbeat releases to date.

Teenbeat 50 is the first major retrospective comp the label put out. Originally it was going to come out in 1990, but around the same time Teenbeat signed a distribution deal with Matador, and the comp wasn't issued until 1993. I find it interesting that even though the label had only existed for 8 years at that point, the folks at Teenbeat already felt an impulse to self-historicize by adding the "epilogue" on the earlier version of the release. This historical/archival desire has continued over the past 20+ years as they released first a tenth anniversary box set, and then annual compilation CDs chock full of hidden bonus tracks from the archives, and most recently the Teenbeat Originals releases. I feel like this impulse can sometimes border on self-mythologization, but it's definitely one of the things that make Teenbeat unique--so many other labels have been content to let their back catalogue slide into obscurity, but these guys have kept one eye firmly on the past even as they look forward to new things.

Speaking of the past, it's worth noting that Teenbeat 50 features a lot of early and side projects by folks you may know from other bands: Scaley Andrew is Andrew Beaujon from Eggs and Mark Nelson from Labradford; Bastro features John McEntire of Tortoise and The Sea and Cake; Autoclave features Mary Timony of Helium and Christina Billotte of Slant 6; Teenage Gang Debs features Erin Smith of Bratmobile and Cold Cold Hearts; Superconductor features Carl Newman of The New Pornographers; Helter Skillet is Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre; Clarence is Phil Krauth from Unrest. There are probably more connections that I'm missing - but still, this is a pretty illustrious group.

Various Artists, Teenbeat 50, 1991/93
Teenbeat, no. 50/Matador, no. 25

1. Teenbeat Theme 1991 (1:21)
2. Scaley Andrew, "Earle Hotel" (2:50)
3. Bastro, "Sketch for Sleepy" (2:51)
4. Circus Lupus, "Marbles" (2:53)
5. Vomit Launch, "Block of Wood" (2:37)
6. Bells Of..., "Strange Pair" (3:39)
7. Unrest, "Capitalist Joyride" (3:49)
8. Autoclave, "Dr. Suess?" (2:32)
9. Jonny Cohen, "Time Loop" (1:58)
10. Teenage Gang Debs, "On Tape" (2:36)
11. Sexual Milkshake, "California" (2:26)
12. Superconductor, "I'm Going to Blow Your Fucking Head Off" (3:22)
13. Velocity Girl, "Not at All" (1:54)
14. Eggs, "It's Hard to be an Egg" (2:56)
15. Courtney Love "Shaniko" (1:52)
16. Teenbeat Theme 1985 (1:59)

17. Krokodiloes, "Sweet Georgia Brown" (1:07)
18. Helter Skillet, "The Look Out" (3:02)
19. Naomi Wolff, "Teenage Suicide" (2:52)
20. Clarence, "Love Affair is Over" (3:47)
21. Coral, "Merry Go Round" (3:03)
22. Jungle George, "The Equator of Her Navel" (3:14)
23. Mark E Superstar, "Holiday New England "(2:16)
24. S.C.U.D., "You Fucking English Bastard" (1:51)
25. Butch Willis, "The 23rd Rocker" (3:23)
26. Wall Drug, "Peace" (4:22)

Get it here.

Around the same time that Matador finally issued the above album, Teenbeat catalogue number 100 rolled around. To mark the occasion, they released a 7" compilation featuring ten new one-minute songs by the lead bands on the label's roster. This is one of the greatest indie-rock 7"s ever released.

Various Artists, Teenbeat 100, 1993
Teenbeat, no. 100

A1. Blast Off Country Style, "Weiner Dude Attitude" (0:57)
A2. Eggs, "Baked Alaska" (1:04)
A3. Tsunami, "Brickbook Building" (0:57)
A4. Butch Willis, "Falling in Love" (0:38)
A5. Unrest, "International Nautical Miles" (1:04)
B1. The Shoetrees, "Collisions" (1:13)
B2. Bratmobile, "There's No Other Way" (0:57)
B3. Sexual Milkshake, "The United States of Arousal" (1:05)
B4. Cobalt, "Saturday" (1:17)
B5. Los Marauders, "Slicker Than Snot" (1:02)

Get this one here. Enjoy!


Novemberer said...

Thanks, still got my copy of this but it's stashed away somewhere, some great songs on here...

Alex said...

I remember reading this blog recently and downloaded the Mark Robinson singles, and I had read the Teenbeat post but I hadn't downloaded it... Though yesterday I was at a local record store sifting through 7" singles and I noticed one that had a Teenbeat logo so I bought it based on the recommendation of this blog post... The single was by Unrest and it's called "Isabel Bishop" (Under the B section in the shelf, no less. Even though they organize by artist, must have been a misread though.) and I absolutely love it.

smokeandmirrors said...

"Isabel" is a great single! I have the CD version but have never seen the 7" - that's a good find. If you haven't already, look back through the history here and download the Unrest singles I posted. They're brilliant!

reidmix said...

Teenbeat 50 was one of the first comps I bought from the label and I adored "Teenage Suicide". I've been so grateful for the Originals so I can dig into the Scaley Andrew and Clarence and the rest that I've never been able to.

A friend of mine once showed me a special box of all the original tapes (the first 20, 50, I don't remember exactly) -- a box set of sorts that I was always so envious of and to finally get to listen to all these things that were out of reach in the 90s is glorious to say the least.

(Isabel Bishop is the greatest pop song from Unrest and she is the artist grandmother of Cath Carroll) -- there was the CD and the 12" AFAIK.

Teenbeat said...

The Teen-Beat Fifty album was compiled in 1990 and intended for release in late 1990. By the time Matador decided to release it in late 1993, more than half the bands on the album were no longer.

Both the vinyl and CD (and don't forget cassette!) were released simultaneously on November 12, 1993.

Also, in response to reidmix's comment, Isabel Bishop was Naomi Wolff's grandmother, not Cath Carroll's.

smokeandmirrors said...

Thanks for the info, Teenbeat! I updated the post accordingly. I also realize that my original comments about the self-reflexivity didn't really communicate what I meant and have further revised that.

Anyway, regarding the "epilogue": was it that the first 16 tracks comprised the compilation originally, but then when Matador actually moved forward with the release three years later, you had the opportunity to expand on your original vision for the comp?