Lost Cassette found 40 years later!
Til Tuesday/Aimee Mann debut show with The Dark headlining The Channel 3/18/83
I recently came across a cassette in my basement that I thought I had lost decades ago. Back in the day doing live sound I would typically record the show on cassette. Many times I would re record over an earlier show and really had no thought of saving any show for “posterity” ( cassette tape was “expensive”!). I thought that’s what happened to this show. Was moving some boxes in my basement and some cassettes fell out. 2nd one picked up was this show! (now, if only that James Brown revue at Jonathan Swifts cassette would reappear…but I digress)
In 1983 I was doing sound for The Dark and on that March 18 they were headlining The Channel, the biggest club in greater Boston at the time. This was a Big Deal for the band and for me as it was the first time I was doing sound in that club which had a “real PA” (sub woofers, separate monitor engineer ). Three bands with Aimee Mann debuting her new band, Til Tuesday as the opener at 9pm, then Surgeon Generals at 10pm and finally The Dark headlining at 11:30.
The Dark had included two drummers, Clarke Goodpaster and Michael Hausmann on percussion. Until this show. Michael had become the drummer for Til Tuesday and this was the first show with him not playing in The Dark.
Context for the sound recording:
If it sounds like the band is at the end of a large empty hall that is what is was for the Til Tuesday set. Being a 9pm start and a new band the only fans there were friends and family of the band so maybe the hall was 10% capacity. By the time the Dark hit the stage the hall was 65-75% full and you can hear the difference in the ambience from the two sets.
The microphone was located at the back of the hall at the soundboard about 80 feet from the stage in a hall that was maybe 100 feet wide and 18 feet high ceilings with most all surfaces being hard (meaning sound likes to bounce around). The recording is from a stereo mic (Sony 939 M/S stereo pencil electret mic that was $89 new) going into the Sony Walkman Pro (an incredible feat of engineering in such a small package AND, a cassette running at 1 7/8 ips onto itty bitty tape and it still sounds pretty good 40 years later. That is SO cool… Hey!, I’m a geek. ).
Further context of recording-background conversation:
I had never heard any of Til Tuesday’s material before this night. The sound check consisted of verifying that the mic cables were connected. Not really a sound check. So I was flying from the seat of my pants with a new room, new mixing board, new band including two background singers so don’t know when they sing/on what song. Plus, I had the added distraction of having MORE THAN ONE FX UNIT! Not only did I have a reverb send (did I need more reverb in pretty empty large room? No, but I had it. Woo Hoo!! Had to use it. There was also a delay unit. this was a luxury back then. So , of course, I “had” to (try to) use it. In a poorly lit environment, trying to figure out which control knobs did what etc. Ahh, the good old days. (“Hey kids get offa my lawn”.)
Given the stereo microphone located in the mixing board , it would pick up conversations that occurred close to the mixing board. You will hear an ongoing plea/distress/gnashing of teeth conversation between a woman and myself. She was a friend of Amiee’s and/or a very rabid fan and wanted to plug into the mixing board signal to record the show on cassette.
Reaching through murky memory from 40 years ago: The Channel’s audio board signal, for reasons I never understood, had to be wired by the house techs to a patch bay where you could plug in to gain access to a particular signal, in this case the stereo board mix. Somehow that wiring connection never made it successfully to the patch bay where the woman hoped to get her stereo signal. Her pleas with me was that she wanted to access the signal direct from the back of mixing board since the other connections were not working. This being my first time using this board, my first time doing sound in the (big-time) club and having no time to get acquainted with the equipment, I was far too paranoid to let anyone start plugging into the back of the board not knowing if some “glitch” might occur to stop the show.
I was not going to let that happen. Much to the angst and chagrin of the woman. I now apologize to that woman and truly hope she might find this site/explanation for some sort of closure. LOL.
The Dark’s set was much easier on me. It was wonderful to have Sub Woofers to add some oomph to the bass and synthesizers low end and I enjoyed myself quiet a bit with it. Also during the set there is occasion to witness what it was like with the locals/audience in the northeast clubs during the 80s. Fun. Roger (guitar) had a knack for agitating… audience participation…some might call it.
Listen through a set of good headphones to get a feel for that “compressed room, a-bit-too-loud-being-there” sound.
Til Tuesday debut show , The Channel, Boston, MA Friday, March 18, 1983
and here is The Dark’s set headlining that night, The Channel, Boston, MA Friday, March 18, 1983
I had a blast doing sound for this band for the 1-2 years I did. Not only did they have really good grooves, in any tempo slow or fast, they were also a tight band with idiosyncratically interesting musicians, all of them. They could even jam from song to song in a twisted psychedelic way (though they would probably have been repulsed by the “jam” reference). Plus, they had a percussionist who included a set of Boo Bams on stage! (remember them?) Loved the sound of them through a PA.
They also had a slew of good songs that included thought-provoking lyrics, coupled with that moving groove, so it significantly enhanced the show experience to actually hear/understand the lyrics clearly in the mix. (Again, I don’t think they would have admitted back then to expressing ‘social commentary’ but it was a very real part of their ‘guerrilla’ aesthetic at the time.) It was fun to have the challenge of getting the vocals over all the sound coming off the stage without blowing out the smallish clubs we were playing.
It is somewhat sadly not surprising that many of these 40+ year old songs seem even more timely today than they were then… ( Wait, TV89, The Morons Are Coming, Dance to Death, Dark World, Self Fulfilling Prophecy, House Are Falling, Happier, Rules, Whatever You Need, New Job, The Sensitive Executive, What Are Friends For?) … all diamonds in the rough…
…and on a more positive note, a nice aside to the recordings are the random band and audience comments at the beginning, ending and in between the songs displaying, for that time, a loose, fun and funny group of people.
The majority of shows were recorded on a Sony Walkman Pro cassette deck using a Sony 939 M/S stereo mic which was always located at the sound board where ever it happened to be located (which was typically not optimum in a typically not optimum room to begin with) up about 7 feet in the air. The shows that were recorded directly off the sound board are Irving Plaza, City Gardens and maybe one of the Unknown shows.
Given the recording medium was cassettes with 45 minutes per side, there are times within the recordings that have abrupt song endings and beginnings which generally meant I had finally remembered to look at the tape deck to see if the Record buttons had been engaged, or if the tape had run out and needed to be turned over. Ahhh, back in the day…
…it can be a nice listening environment to be in the car when you have 35-50 minute drive in front of you. Adjust Bass and Treble to taste and enjoy.
If you want to download shows Email me and I will send you a link.
The Vanguard, Boston University 10/1/82
City Gardens, Trenton, NJ 1/31/82 1st set Sunday
City Gardens, Trenton, NJ 1/31/82 2nd set Sunday
City Gardens, Trenton, NJ Sunday1/31/82 notes:
For context, the band had played this club 2 nights before (Friday) and the club management asked if we wanted to play on Sunday as we were driving back up to Boston from playing in the NJ/DC area so this gave us a ‘break’. It was surreal. I marked on the cassette box that the place was half a football field long, 50 feet wide and 15 foot ceilings. In this huge space on that Sunday we played to a total of 10 people in the audience including 3 crew members and, 150 feet back at a long bar, right out of the Sopranos, were 3 “regulars” and the bartender.
So the band was very loose and their band banter was relaxed and funny, especially in the second set. Crazy versions of Roll Over Beethoven and some other off the cuff stuff that was not part of their ‘normal’ show.
The 930 Club, Washington, DC 1982 1st set
The 930 Club, Washington, DC 1982 2nd set
Inman Sq. Men’s Bar 9/3/82 1st set
Inman Sq. Men’s Bar 9/3/82 2nd set
The Rat, Kenmore Sq, Boston 11/27/1982
The Mudd Club, NYC May 22, 1982
The Mudd Club, NYC June 11, 1982
Irving Plaza, NYC May 2,1982 recorded off the board, not audience mics
Leverette House, Harvard Univ 10/2/82 1st & 2nd set
Leverette House, Harvard Univ 10/2/82 3rd set
Boston/Prov? 1982 1st set
Boston/Prov? 1982 2nd set
The Rat (1983?)
Beaver Country Day, Cambridge, MA 4/8/81 1st set
Beaver Country Day, Cambridge, MA 4/8/81 2nd set
Adams House Harvard Univ 4/30/83 1st set
Adams House Harvard Univ 4/30/83 2nd set
Marble Bar, Baltimore 1983? 1st set
Marble Bar, Baltimore 1983? 2nd set