One of the guys I grew up with (in graduate school, that is!) playing rock music on the road dreamt of a pitch letter last night. He is trying to get Bloodshot Records to re-release our first band's first recording. Herrrrrre's Johnny! Pitch it!
Enormous Richard's Almanac
By John Minkoff
Aka Guitar Johnny
This is a recording by Enormous Richard, the St. Louis band that later morphed into Eleanor Roosevelt, who in 1995 contributed the song "Espoontoon" to Bloodshot's seminal Hellbent: Insurgent Country Vol. 2 compilation.
Here we find most of the same musicians three years earlier in the summer of 1990. They're in a younger and somewhat sillier frame of mind and have a more lo-fi approach to recording. They're in a basement in Granite City, IL, running, with ragged live-to-two-track abandon, through an odd collection of roots-rock songs that make excursions into philosophy, vulgarity, idiocy, horniness, politics, history.
They know they're about to break up, and they're trying to get the songs down right before that happens.
It's a frenetic basement sound: banjos plunk, guitars scratch and crunch, the singer sounds crazed and jumpy. Many who've heard this mess of young men making a messy sound and telling messy stories instantly just don't like it. There are others who get in on the wavelength and think it's pretty exciting, hilarious stuff.
Obviously, we hope you fall into the latter group.
These songs had been kicking around for a while in a slightly earlier version of the band, and this recording represents a moment when the lineup changed a bit and the right group of desperate young men came together to capture these songs with the right spirit of rock and roll insanity and hilarity.
Released on cassette that summer as our 30-song epic Why It's Enormous Richard's Almanac, the record is part of a moment in St. Louis when a certain kind of roots rock was beginning to flower among a small group of bands, some of whom would soon become known nationally know (Uncle Tupelo, Chicken Truck, led by Brian Henneman who went on to form The Bottle Rockets).
We considered those guys friends and peers at the time. We were just a bit more, uh, primitive.
Many who heard The Almanac back then became instant converts; the recording got the band gigs throughout the Midwest and on the East Coast (turns out they didn't break up: they just changed again and went on the road). Even today there's a small group of Midwestern music fans who view The Almanac as a singular kind of event/achievement, even if they long ago lost track of the cassette, as people tend to do with cassettes.
Now grown men, geographically dispersed, we've been playing occasional reunion gigs and re-releasing some of our old music, because we just think it's worth doing. We even get hunted down by the very occasional fan boy and shoehorned into archival compilations of lost indie rock bands from the '90s.
We think you might like this old, spirited, loose-limbed recording. Please let us know if it seems like your kind of thing.
Contact: John Minkoff (aka Guitar Johnny) at 847-869-8173, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am trying to convince the lads that we should interest Bloodshot (or whoever) into a Best of "Why It's Enormous Richard's Almanac" CD release, paired with a jazz-geekesque online archive of every take of every song from the session, handled by our friend Meghan Gohil at Hollywood Recording Studio - who, amazingly, recorded the Almanac in the summer of 1990 and in the summer of 2008 is still in on everything we do, especially the budget meetings.