Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the big reveal: POSTER CHILDREN Toreador Squat

With thanks to Josh D of The Wizard's Super-Special Rock and Roll Good Times Jamboree! for the actual cassette and transfer, I am excited to bring you a World First - or at least a Power of Independent Trucking first - as previously discussed: 

with exclusive liner notes from the band!

I have been on a semi-serious hunt for this record (tape) for twenty years, or, as long as I've known of its existence. We've previously blogged the Poster Children here, and I extended my plea to readers of my blog. Lo! #1 - faithful reader Josh D rose to meet the challenge, and went way over and above the call of duty in finally ending my two-decade quest by ripping his original 1988 copy of this cassette. Thanks Josh!

So... now that I have this record, let's do some reading about it on the Internets. Why not - a good way to kill time while soaking in the first-time listen to this wonderful burst of Midwest pop/postpunk.

But... where's the discussion? Why does nearly every website that even bothers to mention this record simply recycle the same verbiage every other site uses? Needless to say, there is virtually nothing written about this record beyond very uber-basic background info, and minimal at that.

So I took the bull by the horns and went direct to the source. I emailed the band and Lo! #2, they responded. And they love the blog! And after a very basic brief about what I was doing, they opened up the cooperation floodgates. I was amazed, impressed and eternally grateful. Thanks Rick and Rose!

To make a long, boring, technoweenie discussion short, this record (tape) was the band's first release, if you can call it that. Recorded in an attic in Champaign, IL in early 1988 on a Portastudio 4-track cassette recorder, these songs were the Poster Children's calling card in the very early days of their career. Selling the tapes locally at shows and indie record shops, the band quickly developed a following and, well, the rest is history.

Not a whole hell of a lot of these tapes were made. I honestly didn't think I'd get a response to my plea, knowing the age of the tape and the age bracket of those who would have bought or been given a copy back in 1988. That Josh D responded, and with an actual, original tape (and not some mp3's from a generated dub of a dub), still floors me.

Because of the complete dearth of information on the Internets, Rick Valentin (guitars/vocals) and Rose Marshack (bass) - the two original and primary Poster Children - agreed to 1) let the blog host lossless copies of this record, and 2) write the "liner notes"! Needless to say I was thrilled. It is so very rarely that a band is as personable, reachable, fan-friendly and just plain *nice* as these guys are. And they don't mind giving their music away! That is to say, Rick felt it wouldn't be appropriate to charge people for this record these days.

That said... as I did last time I blogged a PC record, I encourage all listeners to visit the band's "Hat" on their website and drop some cash in the hat via PayPal, whatever amount you feel necessary, if you like. By all means don't feel obligated to do so, but it's a nice gesture. I will be doing the same even though I've purchased every PC album released since this tape.

Enough appetizers. Let's get to the main course. And this being The Power of Independent Trucking, as is my wont, I cleaned up the tracks quite a bit, as the straight-off-the-highspeed-dub tracks did need some massaging. I indicated the same to the band when I initiated contact about this endeavor.

Rick's response to my initial hesitant query:

I think this is a great idea! I've been trying for years to get the original four-track master from the guy who recorded Toreador Squat and I don't think it's gonna happen, so having a cleaned up version of the cassette would be the next best thing...

I'd be fine with you hosting it on your blog and I'm sure we can dredge up some memories of the recording for liner notes...

And then after some back-and-forth, this:

As far as Toreador Squat goes, I definitely feel like these are bonus-type tracks, the kind of thing fans would like but not necessarily something I would feel right charging for.

Thanks for getting the ball rolling with this! Getting these tracks cleaned up and digitized was something I've had on my to do list forever but never got around to (and probably never would have!)

And then Rose emailed me indicating she loved my blog so much she shared it on Facebook ;)

So, shall we?

(notes by Rick Valentin except where noted)

The cover and title of the cassette came from a type of paper bag. Rose hand-drew the insert -- this was before we discovered Zipatone and before we had Photoshop. There are a bunch of [Thomas] Pynchon references in the credits (The Paranoids, a muted post horn, W.A.S.T.E.) -- we were really into The Crying of Lot 49 at the time (and really anti-Fountainhead, hence the Ayn Rand un-credit).

Trashcan Records was a cassette-only label run by Jim Slusarek and Chris Corpora which released a couple of compilations of Champaign music and put out individual “albums” by a few local bands. Jim set up his Portastudio and microphones in our attic rehearsal space and recorded us playing our instruments live, then we added vocals afterwards. Chris would make duplicates of the master on his tape deck and we’d package up the tapes and sell them at shows and in local record stores.

These recording sessions were in the spring of 1988, just a few months before we recorded the bulk of Flower Plower with Iain Burgess, so the a lot of the tracks are duplicated on FP but there are a few that never made it into the Iain sessions, I’m not sure why, probably because we ran out of time/money.

01 Hollywood USA 
 I think the original title for this song was "The Cowboy Song" and (in our minds) it was some kind of combination of rockabilly and Naked Raygun.

02 The Bump Bump Song
We always had a problem with new songs, we wanted to play them right away but they usually didn’t have finished lyrics so we’d have to name them by some musical characteristic rather than the subject. This song had “bumps” in the rhythm so it became the "Bump Bump Song".

03 Rain On Me
The one thing I notice on this track is the hi-hat (or lack thereof). During the Flower Plower sessions Shannon (drummer) was feeling left out of the overdub process so he added a hi-hat over his drum part, which I notice every time I hear the song - it’s kind of nice to hear the original drum part on the cassette version.

04 Detective Tracy 
 Rose’s dad (a jazz trumpeter) always liked this song because it had that goofy break where we did the walking bass and guitar parts. The lyrics came from a weird combination of classic Dick Tracy comic strips and dealing with religious zealots in college.

05 Carrie Look Ahead 
This is one of the songs that fell by the wayside by the time we recorded with Iain Burgess. I think it was because we had a newer “quiet” song ("She Walks" [ed: available on Flower Plower]) and didn’t want to record too many soft numbers with the man who had engineered [Naked Raygun's] All Rise and [Didjits'] Hey Judester.
ROSE: I've always wanted to re-record "Carrie Look Ahead", named after a type of digital logic adder! 

06 And So It Goes... (The Skanky Song)
[ed: Recorded live at Mabel's, Champaign IL 3 May 1988]
I wouldn’t have remembered this song if it wasn’t on tape. I’m not sure what the deal is with the vocals - it sounds like a Bob Mould impersonation that went horribly awry!

07 Jeremy Straight
This was our attempt at a Naked Raygun song, complete with "Oh-way-ohs".

08 White Noise (Black Light)
[ed: re-titled "Question" for Flower Plower]
In the early days of the band, I would bring in a song into practice that I’d written myself or worked on with Rose -- I think this is the first song we wrote together as a band and it seemed better than any of the songs I wrote myself so “jamming” became our predominant method of songwriting after this.

09 The Un-Reggae Song 
This one was a Joe Jackson-y ska-ish song with some David Byrne-isms thrown in. So we were about 15 years ahead of the New Wave revival! Or more likely about 5 years behind the times...

10 Carvers of New York City 
For some reason I always thought of this as our attempt at a Cheap Trick type of song but I’m not really sure why I thought that - maybe because I was singing at a higher pitch than normal? The lyrics came from randomly selecting words and phrases from an article in the Atlantic Monthly - there was a story about people carving fake African figures and masks.

11 State of Mind 
This was a song from the band Rose and I were in before PC, The Evidence. It has more of the Minutemen/Hüsker Dü thing we were into at the time.

12 The Weenie Song 
Another weenie song that didn’t make the Flower Plower cut as our songs got more aggressive overall.

13 Five Minutes
Another Evidence song, definitely of the attempted Hüsker Dü variety.

14 The Half-Time Song 
I don’t think this one had lyrics until the recording session. When we played live I would just jabber and hope that no one could hear. The center section is me talking to a baby kitten, Bob, that Chris had just adopted.

- - - - - -
Tracks 1-4, 7-9 were re-recorded with Iain Burgess later in 1988 and released on Flower Plower.
Track 10 was re-recorded with Steve Albini in 1990 and released on Daisychain Reaction.
Tracks 5-6, 11-14 were never re-visited or released beyond this cassette.

Original transfer from the 1988 cassette by Josh D, as mentioned above
Remastered (though it does bring out some of the flaws in the high-speed dubbing process) in September 2010 by the Analog Loyalist. HINT - it sounds much better in headphones ;)

Oh, you want the files? Lossless FLACs are here
See for a FLAC decoder or suggested players.

With the most sincere thanks to Rick, Rose, drummer Shannon and Josh, I bid you all to enjoy!


  1. Oh man you dunno how happy I am to see this post. This is one of the reasons why I love the internet. You can do something like that now which seemed impossible back then. And cheers to the band for the permission for this too!!!

    Thanks man! You've just made my day...

  2. Absolutely thrilled to have been a part of this, and can't wait to hear the results! "Carrie Look Ahead" has always been my favorite.

    Rick and Rose, it's been nearly a year since we played together last. I hope we get to do it again soon!


  3. wow, this is awesome... but any chance for slightly lossy mp3 version that doesn't involve 3 zip files?

  4. Whooooo Hoooo!!!! I have been looking for this for years!! I narrowly missed the one copy that I have ever seen on ebay and the purchaser never responded to my desperate pleas for a dub! Thanks to you, Josh and of course Rick & Rose for being consistently generous and genuine to their fan base!

  5. Whooooo Hoooo!!!! I have been looking for this for years!! I narrowly missed the one copy that I have ever seen on ebay and the purchaser never responded to my desperate pleas for a dub! Thanks to you, Josh and of course Rick & Rose for being consistently generous and genuine to their fan base!

  6. This is amazing - great story, great work all round, congratulations all.

  7. sorry, I'm not going to post MP3 versions of this. I've chosen to share it lossless, it's up to my readers what they do with their download. It's not a huge fileset; even on low-speed DSL we're not talking a huge amount of time to download. There are also numerous (free) utilities that can transcode FLAC to lossy.

    There's nothing that bugs me more than when I'm searching for something long out-of-print, because of my compulsive nature that I have to own (at least lossless versions of) "everything" by some chosen artist, and I finally find what I have long sought - and it's only in MP3.

    If I had my druthers I'd ban this being "released" as MP3, and mandate that if you want it lossy, you do it yourself. Obviously I can't do that, and I do understand individual wants/needs, but all the material and tools are there for one to make their own lossy transcodes.

    Sorry for taking this hard stance, but I worked hard on this project, and I chose not to make it "easy" for the next seeker to finally stumble on something they've sought for years, only to find it as MP3. I will do my best to ensure this release remains available through outlets I have control over, as lossless FLAC, so anybody with a Google search textbox can find it.

  8. thank you so much for posting this!

  9. This looks interesting. I've actually never heard of this band, but I'll download this over the weekend and give it a listen.
    It's quite unusual for 4-track portastudio recordings to be held in any esteem, (even though, as the owner of a Yamaha MT3X myself, I know you can achieve perfectly acceptable semi-pro results on such machines, as long as you use high quality tape, and record at high tape speed, use the dbx nr, and don't ping-pong too much). Actually, back in the days, my next purchase was a Fostex R8 8-track 1/4" reel to reel, fed by a Fostex 454 mixer, and I found that (to my ears) the MT3X produced better sonic results than the expensive Fostex gear.

  10. Don't be so uppity. You credit someone else for this, and the band answered an email. Hard work on your part? Hardly. And you post plenty of in-print material, so why do you think you're doing something original or great? And when are you gonna get around to "removing" the REM things you said you were?

  11. @ j metaphor:

    who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?

    1) I credit someone else for sourcing the tape. Big Deal? absolutely not. Did I ever once lay entire claim to the whole endeavor? Not at all. Credit given where credit is due, as it should be. All parties involved think this whole silly thing is wonderful.

    2) "Hard work" is in the eye of the beholder. You, Mr. Blog Commenter, probably toiled for seconds to compose your comment. "Hard work" - what does it matter to you? To anyone?

    3) Given an opportunity to have direct correspondence with any of the artists I post or discuss, I'll *always* take that opportunity to discuss (or clear, or get comments from, or shoot shit about the price of tea in China) whatever my intents are before moving forward. It matters not what *my* intent was before all this came down as it did. If Josh D chose to bring the band into his blog discussion, I'd be leading the hurrah!'s because it's just damn cool what the band did.

    4) I like music. I like talking (too much) about it. There are criminally un(der)exposed artists/records out there that my pea brain says others should at least get the chance to hear. So I post records. Don't like it? Don't read the blog. Save your breath, friend. There's no coercion or compulsion forcing you to even acknowledge my own pithy existence.

    5) You may wish to bone up on your points before you make them. I removed the link to the REM Fables demos stream capture long ago.

    6) I suggest you take your comments up with "the band" if you don't think this is kosher. Their email addresses are pretty easy to find, you don't even have to be a snoop!

  12. This doesnt surprise me at all b/c Rick & Rose are two of the coolest people in the world.

  13. Just wanted to say thanks a lot for getting this put together. I've only recently got into this band, so it's pretty cool to also have access to the sort of the material that others have literally waited decades for. I've converted the files to mp3 for my own personal library, but anybody else I talk to that is interested is getting directed back to this page. Thank you again.

  14. Awesomeness! I love this band and didn't think I would ever get to hear this album.

    I've seen them live several times. Every time I approached them before or after a show, they were always super personable, cool and down to earth.

  15. Hi. I've been waiting well over a decade to hear this, but I am unable to actually initiate the download of any of three files. Once I'm on the Mediafire page, I am thrown into a continuous loop of "processing request" that never produces the pop-up where I can direct the download to go on my computer - that and numerous pop-up ads. I'm not sure what you can do on your end, perhaps with the exeception of hosting these files elsewhere (Rapidshare, for example, is a lot more straightforward). I've tried both Internet Explorer and Firefox to no avail. If you can help, please drop me a line:

    BTW, I have a blog of my own that you might be interested in checking out sometime:


  16. Issues like this are usually Mediafire issues. My suggestion, as always, is try another time.

  17. You have made my f-ing year. Thanks a million for putting the time into this and sharing it with the fans. Funny, I was literally just thinking tonight "I wonder what is new with the P-Kids" so I went to the site. Staring me in the face was the link to this. I am absolutely thrilled. Thanks again.

  18. I've had the cassette of Toreador Squat since 1988 -- it's sitting in my desk drawer at home -- I ripped it to .WAV years ago. All you had to do was ask ;)

    Seriously though, I played the crap out of it when I was in college and it's lost alot of the high end. I tried to fix it by doing some equalization on it but it'll never sound as good as it did when I bought it at Record Service all those years ago.

  19. Your copy sounds MUCH better. Like I said the high end got nuked from 20 years of playing it in various cassette decks at home or in the car or my walkman. My attempt at fixing it using SoundForge sounded better than the original but just barely. Let's just call mine "muddy". I'm still holding on to it for sentimental reasons.

    Thanks for cleaning up a classic!

  20. ...I'm still looking for my copy of the "Ointment" compilation tape of Champaign bands that was released by the same cassette label as this PC tape. I have received permission from Jim, the label's owner, to put it on once I find it. I have about 7000 cassettes that I need to dig through, so please wish me well in finding it. The Poster Children are included on the "Ointment", along with a lot of other cool sounds from Champaign at the time.

  21. Hey Analog Loyalist,
    I have :
    A Sony PS-FLII linear tracking turntable purchased in 1989 and used approx. 80 hours with a needle/cartridge that reportedly cost as much as the deck (I'm guessing $100), a DiscWasher record cleaning system, a Zerostat3, and a ARTCessories DJ v.2 USB preamp feeding into a MacBook Pro. I'm trying to rip several records including a seemingly pristine copy of The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu 1987 WTF is Going On? Overall, the record sounds very good with no pops or clicks. However, there is a persistent static sound that is noticeable not so much through my external computer speakers but significantly through my decent home and auto stereo. I've tried every different cleaning and anti-static tactic to eliminate this static for digital transfer purposes. The software I'm using to master my recordings is Audacity. I don't have the cash to buy a better deck/cleaning machine/software. Is there any way I can clean-up this static with what I have?
    Thanks in advance for your sage advice,

  22. You sure it's not a ground loop hum?

  23. I have my ground connected to the USB preamp. Guess I could try disconnecting it or alternately connecting it to my workbench. Thanks for the thought!

  24. Thanks for this! It brings back some memories! Don't know why I didn't buy it from Record Swap back then, but I'm glad to have it now.

    BTW, here is some unsolicited backstory on some of the other folks in "Thank You":

    WEFT: Free-form community radio station in Champaign. The university stations were not as committed to independent/local artists as other college stations, so WEFT was a lifeline.

    Melanie & Amy from Sound Seen: Melanie Amin & Amy Flammang, who ran a 'zine (Sound Seen) that interviewed Poster Children. All I remember of it was Rose said "Mike Watt is God." I ran into Melanie and Amy in Chicago some time later and they had started a real publication called Pure Magazine. I think they interviewed Wesley Willis in one issue.

    Lonely Trailer, Bad Flannel, Love Cactus, Obvious Man, Hardcore Barbie: Other bands on the scene at the time, cleverly put into definite plurals to refer to their members. I think Lonely Trailer is still around in some form. I have one Obvious Man cassette that deserves to be digitized and released if permission could be gotten.

    The I.M.C.: The Independent Musicians Coalition was an extracurricular student group that ran all-ages shows at typically noncommercial, non-bar venues. A couple of my bands played I.M.C. shows. If my reckoning is correct, "And So It Goes... (The Skanky Song)" was recorded at Mabel's just a few days prior to I.M.C.'s Peace Fest concert on the Quad (with stage on the steps of the Foellinger Auditorium) where Poster Children played "Rain On Me" as a big thunderstorm and tornado blew into town!