Friday, August 05, 2011

Music Box: The Motels 'Apocalypso' (Lost 1981 Album)

Before I forget, wanted to mention how excited I am that the Motels' shelved 1981 album, "Apocalypso," is finally getting an official release on Tuesday. As superfans know, Capitol Records -- who had been major supporters of the band's first two well-reviewed but minimally purchased records -- were really looking for the band to break into the big time with their third effort, especially with the New Wave invasion beginning to dominate the charts. When Martha and the boys turned in "Apocalypso," the label didn't hear a hit, so told them they'd release it, but they wouldn't promote it.

Undaunted, the band regrouped -- Martha and lead guitarist Tim McGovern, who had replaced Jeff Jouard on the second LP, broke up romantically and professionally -- and re-recorded the album, this time letting producer Val Garay (riding high on the success of "Bette Davis Eyes") take the driver's seat, a position he had relinquished in the face of McGovern's domineering presence. It paid off. Rechristened with the tongue-in-cheek name "All Four One," the album would become the band's biggest, fueled by the Top 10 single "Only the Lonely," plus video favorites "Take the L" and "Forever Mine." The Motels would continue to succeed with this more-polished sound for two more albums -- "Little Robbers" and "Shock" -- but being the obsessive-compulsive collector of music that I am, the mysterious "Apocalypso" -- rejected for being "too weird" and "not commercial enough" -- has long cast a shadow on my CD rack, a shadow about to be removed by Omnivore Recordings, who bravely took on this long-overdue project.

I say bravely because it's no secret that CD sales are in the crapper, so I admire labels that still release things for the love of music rather than only focusing on the bottom. To be honest, I've been pretty shocked by how many things I thought would NEVER be released on CD that have come out recently, including all of Debora Iyall and Romeo Void's albums, Tracie's "Far From the Hurting Kind," Marilyn's "Despite Straight Lines" and Tom Tom Club's "Close to the Bone," although these are first-time digital outings rather than previously unreleased efforts. Now that "Apocalypso" is coming out, my list of dream shelved albums is dwindling down to Clare Grogran's "Trash Mad," Susanna Hoffs' "Wallace Album" (which I have on bootleg), The Boss' "Electric Nebraska" and Tracie Young's second LP, which is reportedly being released by Cherry Pop.

Because I'm so obsessive, I actually already have most of the songs that were deleted from "Apocalypso" when it became "All Four One" ("Schneekin," "Lost but Not Forgotten," "Who Could Resist That Face?" and "Sweet Destiny"), but it will be a relief to have them all, digitally remastered and sequenced, along with the early ("weird") takes of the songs that ended up on "All Four One," all on one disc. I'm especially eager to see the liner notes, as Martha Davis is a great storyteller and I would love to hear her memories of this artistic "failure" that would change the course of her life forever.

Order your copy HERE. And here's the original version of "So L.A.," whose dark subject matter benefits from the grittier production and rawer vocals, but definitely sounds like the first album rather than a Top 40 outfit. (Sounds like the suits actually knew what they were doing -- and while one could argue against a sellout, Martha's not complaining when the royalty checks roll in.)

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dishy said...

KENNETH! Thank you once again for tipping me off! I love the motels and HATE that I cannot find SHOCKED for anything reasonable affordable on CD! (SHAME was a great song!) I also have never even HEARD of that Claire Grogan album - which is weird since I'm such an Altered Images fan! THANKS AGAIN! XO

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Dishy: You're welcome. I broke down and paid 100 bucks for the "Shock" CD from someone on Amazon. It was a lot of money, but at least I could sleep at night!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for this post, I had no idea. Getting it on Tuesday!

nojarama said...

That is wonderful news! I adored The Motels and was lucky enough to meet Martha through various peeps when she lived here in town in the 90's.

Harry said...

That is awesome news (and I can't believe it slipped by my radar! It warms my heart when labels do release such things - it kinda gives me hope for the future of the recording industry. Would love to see Martha do some shows to promote this release...

dishy said...

I can't do 100 bucks for SHOCK on CD when I have a decent vinyl copy! BUT! KENNETH - when I went to check out my cart (that of course had grown) - I saw the Kim Wilde's TEASES AND DARES has FINALLY BEEN 2-CD reissued! I almost shit my pants! You must love her we have the same taste! WOWEE!!!! TEASES AND DARES! KISSES AND HUGS! DISHY

OneCharmingBastard aka OCB aka JRJ said...

THIS ('Apocalypso') completes my parallel-time '81 room perfectly (Donna Summer's "I'm A Rainbow" and the Michael Jackson/Freddie Mercury version of "State of Shock" have set the bar pretty high) - what a fun and way way way not "All Four One" record this is! Tim McGovern's guitar work is fierce! And it's enough to get me to re-evaluate the Burning Sensations, so that says something. (Did Capitol give him a deal as compensation for nixing this?)

NOT the Motels you think you know. More like the second album, only fiercer. At long last, I understand why they had the rep they had in the beginning - this is serious rock and roll.