Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Hugh Beaumont Experience on Cheap Rewards Records

Hugh Beaumont was the dad in Leave it to Beaver, a show I only barely caught, not by choice, in the days when you'd come home from school and sit in front of whatever happened to be on at the time. Even then it was pretty clear how abnormally normal and happy that world was. Maybe that's why it was successful, an escape from reality like some suburban sci-fi. Around 1981 a couple or bored to shit friends in high school in Fort Worth Texas get together, name themselves The Hugh Beaumont Experience and write an EP of songs in the space of 15 minutes (this of course is a point of pride). They get another friend who had a drum kit (Take note kids, if you are a social outcast, just get a drum kit. The number of drummers who ended up in bands because no one else had a kit or the space is astounding) and rehearse a few times ending up with four hours of studio time (who knows) and pressing 500 (probably the smallest amount the plant would even deal with) to be reissued here from Cheap Rewards Records thirty years later.

It's important to remember that the desire to piss people off with shocking lyrics about chemical weapons has been around forever. Take A-Side's "Zyklon B" which is actually sadly still relevant. You would think this definitely originated in England a few years earlier and no doubt they would have been influenced by that scene. Lead Brad Stiles sounds like Darby Crash, young as hell and eager to take on that English accent and sing about the ills of world war II. (?) Nothing like Nazi's to swing that cultural pendulum back to reality. The mix is really nice on this by the way, super clean for something like this and Brad strikes a balance between snotty, bratty vocals and possibly being actually dangerous. He's taken a lot of notes from that scene overseas (as the next track will make utterly clear) but is wiling to take them the same places with many of the same obstacles being down south in steer country. They didn't exactly love The Pistols when they came acround two years earlier.

"Where'd ya go Sid" This is about Vicious? Perfect. They take on a real crunchy distortion and lay into a slow Ramones sounding riff with heaftier weight to the guitar work. Brad is right in your livingroom looking around for Sid. It's still crazy to me that looser became such a star, a completely talentless harmless groupie became more well known than anyone else in the band. Oh those broken old days when Malcolm thought every member of The Pistols would continue on in side projects. Sid & Nancy then included a young Courtney Love...basically a new Sid. This track is about the world being lost without Sid, maybe this was before his death even when he went AWOL in a rehab clinic when he couldn't get a ticket back to England from NY? I think Malcolm was actually looking for him, when he realized he wasn't finished making a couple last bucks. At least Brad could see the big picture. These are pure, pissed off, teen tracks poking parents and suburbia right in the eye. Thirty three years later the naivety and ham fisted ideals behind this are still important. Nice work gentlemen...and I hope you gave a copy to your history teacher.

I got to hand it to these guys, they definitely found someone who knew their way around a mixing board and on B-Side's "Charity" it makes a crazy difference. There's still the punch of authenticity, these guys are just untrained and smart enough not to care about playing as perfect as the engineer was recording them. Brad's vocals are doubled up, the percussion is clean and the rest is all hog tied in a surprisingly clean package. "Money Means so Much to Me" has a landmark guitar tone that couldn't be duplicated, it's coming from a broken amp in another room, Brad sings with himself back and forth on this one. Being an outsider and not even giving a shit, the very essence of high school punk. I did the same thing with friends at lunch in our Dead Milkmen rip off band about the bullshit of gym and dumb teachers. Kids are the same everywhere. Some of them get their shit together and produce a perfect snapshot of an era like The Hugh Beaumont Experience.

Essential insert looking back on the group with lyrics on the reverse. Like any good reissue this sticks to the original design, going all the way to faithfully reproduce this crazy punk artifact...and for way less than if you had to go track a first press down. I don't know about you but I just want to hear it, I don't care if it's the test pressing from the band or lathe cut last week. Thanks Cheap Rewards.

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