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Absolute Grey - A Journey Thru The Past (1988)
If ever there was an example of a rock band that was in the wrong place at the right time, it's Absolute Grey. In the mid-'80s, Absolute Grey was playing intelligent, tuneful folk-rock with intriguing melodies, subtle but effective hooks, and a psychedelic undertow that would have allowed them to fit right in with the paisley underground bands blossoming on the West Coast or the jangle pop armies gathering in Athens, GA. But some trick of geography placed Absolute Grey in Rochester, NY, where they were pretty much on their own and, while they managed to attract a devoted hometown following, significant nationwide recognition escaped them. Then again, it's hard to say if Absolute Grey would have been an ideal fit anywhere else, either; their approach was a bit less trippy and significantly less retro than such paisley underground stalwarts as the Rain Parade or The Long Ryders, while the band's tone was notably cooler and more hard-edged than what R.e.m. or Pylon brought to the table. A Journey Through the Past is a posthumous live album, compiled by drummer Pat Thomas, that brings together eight original songs the band had never cut in the studio, along with two remakes and one cover (significantly, the Dream Syndicate's "Halloween"). The audio suggests a clean soundboard tape from a club show and, while most of the songs sound as if they'd be better served with a touch more production polish, the performances make it clear that this band was a strong live act (especially guitarist Matt Kitchen and bassist Mitchell Rasor), and the songs certainly merit preservation, especially the propulsive "Elements" and the darkly atmospheric "Hug Hug." Paisley Pop's 2001 reissue of A Journey Through the Past tacks on seven bonus tracks, including a jokey stumble through Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" and a solid rendition of Green On Red's "Abigail's Ghost," while Pat Thomas' liner notes offer a glimpse at the band's history and working methods, as well as the differences that split up the band. ~ Mark Deming, All Music Guide
Obviously in the 2001 reissue (which must be very limited, because there are no traces of it today, even in Paisley Pop's site) there was no mention of each track's recording date, as in the original (and almost equally limited) Greek LP (Di Di Music D.D. 121, 1988), so the reviewer assumes that it was "a clean soundboard tape from a club show". In fact these 11 songs were recorded at Scorges, Rochester NY, Harley School, Pittsford NY and University of Rochester, NY in seven different shows from May 1984 to August 1985.
Here's the tracklist: A1 Watching Waiting - May 4, 1985 A2 Song of - May 25, 1984 A3 Elements - May 25, 1984 A4 Out of the blue - October 12, 1984 A5 We Autumn - October 12, 1984 A6 Halloween - March 9 1985
B1 For Some Reason - August 17, 1985 B2 Killing Birds - March 30, 1985 B3 Hug Hug - February 8, 1985 B4 Candy Canes - October 12, 1984 B5 Umbrella - February 8, 1985
For those who know Absolute Grey from their studio albums, these live recordings show a much more dark/post-punk side of the band (and some of their best songs that never made it into their studio albums). We can also realise how great was Beth Brown as their frontwoman.
Absolute Grey had two releases while they were together as a band: Greenhouse (mLP, Earring, 1984 - reissued on Midnight, 1985) and What Remains (LP, Midnight, 1986). Beth Brown and Mitch Rasor recorded an almost acoustic EP under Absolute Grey's name (released again on Midnight, 1987) and after a brief reunion at the summer of 1987 they recorded with their original line-up the songs that later came out as "Sand Down The Moon" (Di-Di Music, 1989). As Rasor and Kitchen were still on high school when their first albums came out, they weren't able to tour much to support them, and, even though they had much more original sound than many others of the era, they remained practically unknown (at least in the US, because in Europe they had started to built a name).
About 15 years later they met again and they announced that they would record new songs and that they would release a remixed version of "Sand Down The Moon". Sadly nothing happened since then and even there's a myspace page, their site is gone and the only thing in print is the 20th Annivesary Special Edition of their Greenhouse mLP (with bonus live material), which is a record definately worthy.