Despite the intensity and musical therapy of GI, it seemed Tom and I really had some inner demons to release in the studio. I was going through a bit of a nasty depression and the loveliness of The Birthday Party were on my playlist about 24 hours a day. So, Tom and I put our own meager funds together in hopes of doing something dark and experimental. I'd do most of the howling and singing (but Tom added some pained backing vox!) and my talented guitarist friend played bass, guitar, keyboards, drums, sax, and a bunch of effects. Oh, I tossed in a little manic-percussion, to boot. With my notebook full of twisted lyrics our first idea was off and screaming. Spooky church organ-like drone, backwards symbols and piano strings plucked, post-punk drum rhythms, thumping bass, (Nick) Cave-influenced noises, and the echoing TV news samples here and there. All this and a few guests who added the right touches to a tune. Tom knew of a classical sitarist who strummed some cool licks to one but (after hearing what it was used for) wasn't happy about being part of something "Satanic sounding". A good pen-friend of mine from Detroit was in town visiting so we invited her to the studio, put a mic in front of her and told her to sound spooky. Her laughs sounded pretty damned creepy with the right reverb and that was cool. Me and Tom wondered if any of our GI audience would like or could handle this stuff and decided to release it without our names, just Glee Club. I'm still incredibly proud of what we accomplished outside our other band then and now. Now it's your turn to enjoy our little Bundle of Joy.
-- John Stabb
Stabb and I started recording the Glee Club album around April or May 1983 and finished about six months later. When we started recording it was around this time just after Mitch Parker quit Government Issue because he was left out of the mixing sessions for the EP that was supposed to follow the album Boycott Stabb (other than two songs that were used for the "Wild Blood" single, the sessions were scrapped). We quickly found a replacement for Mitch in John “Lennit” Leonard, but still, Stabb and I were getting musically restless. We were itching to do something different.
The "Wild Blood" sessions were recorded at Bobby Read's studio in Alexandria, Virginia, right outside of Washington DC. Bob's studio was chosen because at that time he ran the sound at the (old) 9:30 Club in DC, and he and I became close because at shows I usually spent most of my time in and around the sound-booth -- unless it was a hardcore show...and sometimes even at a hardcore show if it wasn't worth getting involved in the mayhem (or lack of mayhem) on the dance floor. Plus, the sound was better up there.
When me and Stabb decided to start recording we really didn't have any idea what we were going to do. But Stabb had a book of lyric, we planned to fund the recording by ourselves, and we wanted it to sound completely unlike GI – and that was about it. I don't even think we told anyone we planned to do it, and we certainly didn't tell our "record company" (for lack of any other term) that we were going into the studio to record.
We went in to record every few weeks or so, or when we had the money, and paid Bobby in cash as we went along. Since there are five songs on the album, it's safe to say we went in at least five times to record, but a song such as "Man Unkind" took longer because of the sitar and extra vocals, and maybe two or three times to mix it. Other than those two guest musicians I played all the instruments and Stabb did the vocals. I “composed” the music for each song on the spot, usually improvising for a while until there was enough on the tape for Stabb to lay down the lyrics. Then I usually went back and put some more instruments or effects onto the tape.
Even though the entire album only lasts about thirty minutes, we actually put lots of thought into it. And listening back to it now brings back lots of memories. All good. We had a fun recording the album, and I like how it turned out. It was originally pressed on our own label financed and distributed by the record distributor Dutch East India. They pressed 1000 copies and they sold out almost immediately. Soon after the album was released, I was at the (old) 9:30 to see a show and someone came up to me and told me it was the best thing I had ever released. Besides being more than a bit humbled, I kind of agreed with him. I hope others enjoy it in this digital version, too. The original tapes weren’t in the greatest condition -- ask any musician who recorded on Ampex 456 tape during the 1980s how their tapes held up and many if not all will tell you that the tapes did NOT hold up. I had to use various sources to assemble this version of the album. But when I compare this one to the original LP it actually sounds better in some places. Enjoy.
-- Tom Lyle
released August 14, 2015
John Stabb -- voice
Tom Lyle -- instruments and effects.
On "Bundle Of Joy" John Stabb adds bells, Colleen Scott plays sitar, and Tulin from Detroit laughs.
Engineered by Bob Read
Produced by Tom Lyle
Recorded 1983-4, Originally released on Semblance Records 1989
All songs by Glee Club, Semblance Music, BMI
all rights reserved