Forgive me, reader, for it has been 16 days since my last post. My semi-recent interview with Dave Rave and Cups von Helm is taking longer to transcribe than I could have imagined, but the interview went on longer than they could have imagined, I guess we're even. I know it's been a while and you're probably wanting to read about something really great...so let's see what I can find here...
Ah, yes...the Effigies - Remains Nonviewable. Pulling material from their first LP, "For Ever Grounded", 2 EP's, and a single, this is a great introduction to one of the pioneering bands of the early Chicago scene. The Effigies were among the first hardcore bands to emerge, as the scene spread from west to east, releasing "Guns or Ballots" and "Quota" on the legendary, live Chicago compilation, "Busted at Oz", in 1981, two years after they formed. "Guns or Ballots" does not appear on "Remains Nonviewable", and the version of "Quota" found on here is from the "We're Da Machine" EP, but "Busted at Oz" has recently been re-released on vinyl! Remains Nonviewable also leaves off 7 tracks from the debut album, but does include four of the greats. All five tracks from the "Haunted Town" EP made the cut, as did all four from "We're Da Machine" and 2 more from the "Body Bag 7".
The "Chicago Sound" originated with The Effigies, Naked Raygun, Articles of Faith and Strike Under and is characterized by mid-tempo, melodic hardcore punk with controlled distortion on the guitars and vocals which at times sound almost like chants. The bass plays a larger, more driving role in Chicago punk than the majority of their U.S. counterparts. That's the generalized version of the "Chicago Sound", but it's not completely true of the Effigies, who are propelled forward by big percussion and some fairly complex guitar riffs. Earl "Oil" Letiecq, plays on all these tracks, his guitar sounding like some sort of Teslarian electrical weapon.
As with the rest of the punk movement, there was a lot of experimentation and genre mixing going on. "Security" is almost a dance song, while "Smile!" has a Middle Eastern quality to it. While other U.S. hardcore bands were rapidly exploring the perimeter of anger in American youth, the Effigies wrote songs with multifaceted arrangements and intelligent lyrics, exploring the dark themes of control, police corruption, self-destruction, the mind and human behavior.
This small Chicago scene is a testament to the power of a group of creative individuals. What started as kids playing hardcore became a driving influence on the minds of the youth and the sound of music over the next decades. The Kezdy, Haggerty and Björklund brothers, while not household names, along with a long list of talented friends, formed the foundation of a scene which later propelled Steve Albini (Big Black/Shellac) into the upper stratosphere of major label record producing.
If you're looking for a more in-depth look at the history of Chicago punk, be sure to check out the great You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-84. While you're waiting for your order, check out a few of songs! "Quota" and "Below the Drop" are on Remains Nonviewable, while "Hand Signs" and "Patternless" are two tracks which didn't make it from "For Ever Grounded".
Effigies - Quota Link source
Effigies - Below the Drop Link source
Effigies - Hand Signs Link source
Effigies - Patternless Link source