It’s interesting to consider the bands/artists that get anointed with immortality and those that suffer the fate of being forgotten (if they were indeed ever known). To wit, 1991. Of all the bands in my personal heavy rotation that year, it was Pavement that has most impacted history. And that’s cool. PERFECT SOUND FOREVER was/is a flat out beauty of a 10 inch EP. The “Summer Babe” 7" was a stone gas as well. But two groups that were beating out Stockton's finest in my personal sweepstakes of the constant spin were Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, a bent and comely post-avant-garage group from San Fran that will no doubt eventually get their own post in this space, and Love Child, a complex New York indie-trio that I felt at the time were poised to rise to the top of a bursting bullpen of bands (though I probably played SEBADOH III more than any other record that year, but everybody loves that one, right? Right?). Thinking Fellers have a deep discography and are pretty entrenched in the lore of post ’77 US art-damage, but Love Child has been sorta kicked to the curb of history, or more to the point they are a footnote in the twisted geography of Alan Licht’s snaky list of recordings. In this regard, they suffer next to Run On, a Matador act that were kinda looked upon (by me, anyway) as an indie-supergroup (for the record, Rick Brown ex-Fish & Roses and Les Batteries, Sue Garner of the Shams and Licht of, well, Love Child, and also very fine solo releases and his shit-hot participation in Ed Wood-biographer Rudolph Grey’s mammoth no wave/free jazz project Blue Humans). One reason I thought Love Child were all set to conquer the scene (so to speak) was due to the way they were such a swell collusion of seemingly irreconcilable influences, convulsed in a specifically Noo Yawk way. Let’s run down the list: an approach to stripped-down sonics that was similar to the at-that-point very much in vogue K records’ sound, which was justly amplified by the bands’ multi-instrumental attitude (Never mind that Licht titled a solo release CALVIN JOHNSON HAS RUINED ROCK FOR AN ENTIRE GENERATION). Male sung lyrics that at times come off like a passive aggressive Jonathan Richman and at other moments lash out from the hypothetical psyche of a love-wounded schmeedle. Much of the proceedings are related to post-power pop happenings to varying degrees. Female vocals courtesy of the much missed Rebecca Odes generally detail lovey-dovey goings on in a grandly smart and detached manner (Oh so sweet). Licht’s guitar playing (soloing) depicts an alternate universe where Eddie Van Halen is actually Thurston Moore. I even hear echoes of post-Ubu Cleveland and a Frankensteinian sewing job of early Television and early Feelies. How east coast. In a sense Love Child was a perfect band for 1991, a period where the indie scene had reached a boiling point, Nirvana and to a lesser extent Pavement tearing the roof off the sucker. But Love Child was in no way a schizophrenic band. Nah, they seemed totally simpatico, with the necessary frictions and individualistic tendencies. They were riding a blazed trail into wide open territory, just one piece of a nationwide under-the-radar grid. Another reason I thought Love Child would succeed in contrast to (for example) the great but quite obscure Royal Trux (who inexplicably [to me] ended up on a major label and lasted into the 21st century) related to the trio’s pop sensibility, which at this point was more explicit then that of Unrest or for that matter Pavement. Ultimately, you never know how things are going to shake out. OKAY? really shook the peaches from my proverbial tree for a few years and has been in semi-frequent rotation over the last twelve months or so since I copped a download to replace my beat-to-shit vinyl. I never located the follow up LP WITCHCRAFT, though I’d love to hear it since it’s rumored to be in a more Yo La Tengo direction (It featured new member Brendan O’Malley replacing Will Baum, who left to head out west. He formed the band 9 Iron. Never heard them). I do own the debut 7” on Trash Flow and the Moondog covers 7” on Forced Exposure. Both are dandy. But I’ll let you in on a secret. If some enterprising and cutting edge label (say Merge, who’re getting a rep for righteous indie collections/reissues, Honor Role and Dino Jr. and Volcano Suns and Destroyer to name four) decided to compile the entire output of Love Child into a jam packed 2CD set, I don’t think I could resist picking it up, largely because they were such an aesthetically solid and purely rewarding band. They are always at the top of my coulda-shoulda been contenders list, a group that was clearly tailor made for my mindset (then and now), so any motion in the contemporary marketplace toward justifying their too brief existence would seem to require a reciprocal gesture on my part. The least I could do, essentially. What’s that? My favorite tracks? I’ll type this slowly, so nobody misses the point. Every fucking one. OKAY?’s landscape ranges wildly from start to finish, but every second is essential. Until somebody with the wherewithal to make waves wakes up and smells the caffeinated breeze, I guess it’s up to me to light a candle for these three. If you stumble upon them and find yrself similarly impacted, perhaps you might do the same.
Alan Licht playing No Fun Fest NYC
(any idea how hard it is to find a pic of Love Child online?)