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Turbines

Back in the days when I went out to clubs more than twice a year, back in the storied salad days of the Boston scene (O.K., my storied salad days at least), there were a lot of different kinds of bands but of course there were certain trends that Boston and the rest of the U.S. indie scene were not immune to, and, for a lot of the mid-80s, that meant roots-rock. Now, to me, while anguished post-punk and slicked-up synth/funk-influenced pop required or at least allowed a certain amount of posing, roots-rock was no more pure. Any child of the late 60s or early 70s, especially if they were from New England, was more likely to be listening to Wild Cherry in the back of a station wagon than Hank Williams on their parents' radio. The point is that nearly any kind of sustained aesthetic – a style – is going to require some thinking about the image that one wants to project, no matter how much a flannel shirt is a signifier of authenticity.

That out of the way, the Turbines could be lumped in with "roots rock" while transcending it. First, John Hovorka wrote a lot of memorable tunes – not too elaborate, but they stuck in your head, and I think he realized that the "roots" of most of his peers were industrial and not "western" or "folk." His pre-Turbines band Noise Pencil did a Rust Belt ode called "Weirton, West Virginia" which wouldn't sound out of place next to Pere Ubu. Second, they had a killer guitarist in Jack Hickey, who was able to distill all the good twangy stuff about guitars and the crank it up (especially live) so it didn't sound merely retro. And on their second (and last) album Magic Fingers & Hourly Rates, they actually managed to capture their live sound (see a few paragraphs down this page), which is something that was hard for a lot of Boston bands of the era to do on 80s-indie recording budgets.

None of this stuff is on CD, so I digitized all that I had (two albums, a single, and two compilation cuts I had already taken care of a while ago), and it fits all one CD. Sic transit gloria rock bostoniensis.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(no subject) - all_askew - Jun. 10th, 2003 06:08 am (UTC) - Expand
rpkrajewski
Jun. 10th, 2003 07:33 pm (UTC)
If you remembered the Boston scene, you probably weren't there
Hey, if you're interested, peek in the self-service aisle to refresh your memory.
beetrix
Jun. 10th, 2003 07:53 am (UTC)
Were you a Big Dipper fan?

I have one sad tape that squeaks when I play it after all these years of listening to it over and over.
(no subject) - all_askew - Jun. 10th, 2003 08:08 am (UTC) - Expand
beetrix
Jun. 10th, 2003 08:15 am (UTC)
Oh I believe you.
rpkrajewski
Jun. 10th, 2003 07:45 pm (UTC)
It's BIG
Big Catholic Guilt !
rpkrajewski
Jun. 10th, 2003 07:44 pm (UTC)
Definitely
One of my favorite Boston bands — I liked or loved pretty much everything they did, except for the bland major-label record on Epic. I think anybody who likes smart pop like XTC should also give Big Dipper a try. And during our latest apocalypse-à-gogo, I kept on thinking about that song "All Going Out Together."

Also, in this article about the new Radiohead release, there's a quote from Natalie Waleik of Newbury Comics. Well, she used to be Natalie Werlin of WMBR (I DJed there for a while as a student and a little after), until she married Gary Waleik of Big Dipper !

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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