Barely two months remain in the 39-40 project, and surprisingly my overwhelming attitude is one of... not having enough time left to do half of what I'd hoped to. That may be a response to the last few months of lackluster space-fillers, but I did feel as if a new challenge was due before the whole thing wrapped up.
So I decided to try at least a couple of full-album covers, as that's been a popular artistic move over the last few years. I was briefly determined to do a record apiece from each decade from the '60s (maybe the '50s) to the present, but I don't think that's going to be practical; the two I settled on were from the '80s and '90s, although not necessarily over-representative of those decades: Remote Luxury by The Church, and Fox Base Alpha by Saint Etienne.
This, then, is the first track completed for Skates & Rays' full cover of the Remote Luxury album. I picked it as a spinoff of the fact that I just plain wanted to do "Into My Hands" with the band, but when I looked at it more closely, I realized that it was sort of a redheaded stepchild among Church releases. In some ways, the material on it is as close to a straight revision of the band's '60s psych and beat antecedents as they ever got, but in other, more casually apparent ways it reflects the more dubious aspects of its '80s vintage more than any other single LP in the band's catalog. I feel that as a band S&R is in a pretty good position to bridge that gap, and maybe do a small bit of extending its reach forward as well. But the other, and frankly more important thing that grabbed me about the record is how thematically linked so many of its songs appear to be, how they seem to largely circle around a singular stage of emotional development, and how that stage is just about exactly where I was when I discovered the record at 17 years old (approx.), and that put in a mindset to get at all that personal stuff through reworking the record. So off we go.
"Maybe These Boys..." is one of the more glaring examples of '80s production trends taken beyond any logical or rational ceiling and possibly one of the toughest listens in the band's early output; if I'd had the record on CD rather than cassette I may well have gotten into the habit of skipping it. Why the band took on two idioms outside its usual strengths in the forms of towering synthscapes and bluesy shuffles I can't say, particularly when those two great tastes don't especially cry out to be tasted together. However, rearranging it wasn't very difficult, and considering how quickly we developed and recorded it I'm rather pleased with the results, a few iffy decisions in the lead guitar lines to the side. It is longer than the original, but not by much, and I'd like to think it's a little bit smoother sailing and can still serve as a bit of a waystation at the end of Side 1.
Procedural note on the Full Album Covers project: I'll be posting the songs from the albums as we finish them, but when they're complete I'll offer them up as self-contained albums, properly sequenced to match the originals and with their own artwork, etc.
SKATES & RAYS
Rex Broome ~ Guitar and vocals
Derek Hanna ~ Drums
Clifford Ulrich ~ Bass