March 18, 2014:
I used to correspond with a guy named Larry Boyd. I think he originally wrote to me about something I’d said in my column in Comics Buyer’s Guide, but however it started, we corresponded for several years. We had overlapping interests — he was a comics fan, and a freelance writer (mostly about music).
He was also the drummer and lead singer for a punk band called Disarray that was pretty well known in his corner of Massachusetts, but nowhere else.
He sent me tapes every so often — performances by his own bands (Disarray was merely the longest-lasting of several), performances by other local acts he liked, or just stuff he thought I’d like.
I’ve just recorded one of those tapes. It’s in two parts — one song (from 1991) by a short-lived band called Pennies from Heaven, where he sang and wrote lyrics but did not play anything, and then the full set Disarray played October 1, 1994, at the Mitchell Memorial Club in Middleboro, MA, as part of Disarray’s 15th Anniversary Tour.
The Pennies from Heaven number is called “Empty,” it’s more than eight minutes long, and it was intended for a “soundtrack album” to accompany James O’Barr’s graphic novel “The Crow” — the one that became a movie (or two). Larry credits the song to himself, John Bergin (bass player for Pennies from Heaven), and James O’Barr. I can’t say it’s a masterpiece, but it doesn’t suck, either.
As for the Disarray set — seventeen songs, fifteen of them written by Larry, either alone or in collaboration, with titles like “Granny Wears A Diaper,” “Geeks’ Night Out,” and “Cool Diseases.” They range from two and a half minutes to almost ten. Well over an hour of music.
The two he didn’t write are “Ejection,” by R. Calvert, whoever that is, and “Crossroads,” which he credits to Robert Johnson, but it’s actually the arrangement/rewrite Eric Clapton did for Cream. (Johnson’s title was “Crossroad Blues,” and the distinctive opening riff is Clapton’s, not Johnson’s.)
The sound quality is pretty good, given the circumstances under which it was recorded, though the first half of the first Disarray song (“Dissatisfaction”) is much softer than the rest of the tape. Since you can hear someone giving instructions to fix the volume on the recorder, I’m assuming that wasn’t a problem on MY end.
I don’t think I ever played this all the way through; I just never found the time, and I wasn’t a big punk fan. I should have, though; I can see why Disarray was a local favorite.
I’d like to tell Larry that I finally listened to it, but alas, I can’t; according to a website for one of his bandmates (from Das Ludicroix, not Disarray), Larry’s dead. I had no idea. I don’t know what happened, or when.
Oh, regarding that bass player, John Bergin — my family doctor, from 1958 until I moved to Kentucky in 1977, was Dr. John Bergin. I’m pretty sure he’s no relation.
March 19, 2014:
Well, this turned out to be more complicated than I expected. But I’ve got three more tapes done. They aren’t going to the discard box, though; they’re going back on my brag shelves.
Back in 1993, Scott Dikkers and the Radio Pirates (which was an ancestor of the Onion) bought the radio rights to my short story, “The Drifter,” which they adapted as the pilot for a new SF anthology radio show, “Radio Free Tomorrow.”
Scott sent me a preliminary tape of the adaptation. Then he sent me an official author copy. Then he sent me another one. Today I recorded all three of them, which turned out to be four copies; the preliminary tape had it on both sides, while the copies with the nice labels had the show on Side 1 and were completely blank on Side 2.
And the two with the nice labels don’t match. It’s mostlyMOSTLY the same, but one of them has reworked background voices in at least one scene, and I think some of the sound effects are different.
Three of the four copies may be the same; I haven’t found any differences in the two from the advance copy and the first author copy. I’m not sure, though, so for now I’m keeping all three. (Comparing 27-minute stories to find minor variations is not something I care to tackle right now.)
The revised version is better — the changes are minor, but they’re improvements.
Anyway, the show never sold. So far as I know, this adaptation was never broadcast.
I’m thinking of trying to get hold of Scott — he still works for the Onion — to see who owns the rights to these; it’d be fun to put one on my website.
Oh, yes — the transfer was just about perfect, and the tapes were in pristine condition. I think I had only ever played Side 1 of the first one.