The Salt (City Rock) gets in your ears

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The kids will never believe it, but mom and dad were hip once, and spent crazy amounts of time around the Syracuse live music scene, which in the late '70s and early '80s was happening. Punk had exploded all over, but a strain of power-pop took hold in the Salt City that owed as much to The Raspberries as it did to The Ramones. There was live music all over the place, and bands of such quality that it seemed only a matter of time before somebody broke through and became national stars. That it never happened only increased the legend of some of the bands we followed, and I've still got all the vinyl.

Flash forward a mere 30 years or so, to a time when I'm putting these songs I still remember into the hip new digital format all the kids are into these days. One of my favorite bands from way back when, My Sin, never even got to vinyl – their works were recorded in a living room on a tape deck, and were sold on cassette only, a cheaper option for the time but one that certainly guaranteed a sound quality that could only deteriorate. I was wondering if maybe, just maybe, someone else had been as in love with My Sin's songs as I was, and decided to put the Google to it; lo and behold, not only is there a page dedicated to the band, but they've put up a LOT of their work in MP3 format. There's no email link through which to thank them, so I'll just thank them here. (If I'm remembering right, My Sin is the band that Buddy Love left the Tearjerkers for, creating an opening in the "Chip 'n' Ernie all night" band that was filled by Tom "Someday I'll Be The Voice of Spongebob" Kenny.)

So that set me to wondering if all those other bands that we used to follow around from venue to venue, from the Jab to the Firebarn to what was that place up in Mattydale, even to the disco-scented Lost Horizon, had a presence on the web. And nearly all of them do. I already knew that the legendary Flashcubes, which spawned Screen Test, The Neverly Brothers and, in a sense, 1.4.5, had a great page with an extensive history of the band that touches on the history of a lot of other bands from that time – well worth the read. To my amazement, 1.4.5 has a Myspace page with streams of their music – if you ever run across a copy of their LP "The Pink Invasion," I'm the guy to blame for the design. I couldn't find the music of Dress Code (guys, "Something's Really Wrong" hasn't aged a day), but Elliott Mattice has a biography page on which he proclaims that the band members "formed a band before we knew how to play our instruments." I was there to hear it; he's not lying. They were great anyway. That's how things worked back then. Another band whose enthusiasm far outpaced their musical chops, The Trend managed to put out a long-player called "Batman Live At Budokan," and surprisingly, their single "Band-Aid" can be found on the Youtube.

Completist that I was, there are still some songs I don't have and wish I did, like the aforementioned Tearjerkers' "Syracuse Summer" – I can still hear it in my head. And there were many other bands we saw from time to time and liked and supported, like Machine and Hummer (mentioned also on the My Sin page). I can't remember if Zane Grey or Puss In Boots or the PopTarts ever committed anything to vinyl, but if they did, I never put my hands on it. I don't think any of us would ever have expected that any of those fleeting moments would still be available 25 or 30 years later on this unimagined medium.

7 Comments

Hey I was there too. I saw on your itunes list that you have some Machine and Hummer mp3s. Any way I could get me some of that?

I do an internet radio show out of Syracuse with my friend Carl Cafarelli and we were part of that music scene and saw all of those bands and have a lot of the music they put out. We play all that stuff on our radio show, check it out, we do it live every Sunday night from 9pm til midnight, with playback during the week and you can also download the show as a podcast. We also have a myspace page and a facebook page for the show. You can tune in by going to westcottradio.org and click on the link and if you go to the programs page you can download the show.

I'll second what Dana said, and invite you to tune into our show some time. While there is certainly a ton of stuff from the era that hasn't been reissued (or, in many cases, ever issued in the first place), it's somewhat surprising how much stuff IS available. Not even counting The Flashcubes' two 21st century albums (the studio record Brilliant and the live album Raw Power Pop--Live In Japan), the group has TWO different collections of vintage tracks, Bright Lights and Cellarful Of Boys; Screen Test also has an anthology CD, and 1.4.5. has one in the works (and I'm proud to say I wrote the liner notes to all four of those archival releases). The Trend has a CD. The Pop Tarts have a CD. The Penetrators have a CD. That's not bad for a scene that never really broke out the way it should have. Biggest MIAs are The Ohms, The Most, The Dead Ducks and Dress Code. E-mail me some contact information, and I'll see if I can't put together a CARE package of some of the hard-to-find stuff. And we're DEFINITELY gonna play The Tearjerkers' "Syracuse Summer" on this week's show.

Hey Carl! This is Ron Remschel, I just stumbled on this page.

I was the one who recorded nearly all of My Sin's stuff and that's my webpage you reference. Thanks for the comments, we had a blast back in the day - filling the Jab or getting a handful of people at the Ski Barn (we also played the Firebarn)...

I still have the master tapes and Tascam 144 4-Track Cassette Recorder we used for most of the songs (except "Angel, Too" which I produced in the studio at Newhouse on 2" 8-track)...

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This page contains a single entry by Carl published on February 26, 2009 5:40 PM.

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