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89. SIMPLY SAUCER – CYBORGS REVISITED (1989*) 

JULY 26, 2016 TEJOPALEAVE A COMMENT 

    
 I’m due to hear from frontman Edgar Breau next week, so you might think it unusual not to delay TNPCs inclusion of Simply Saucer’s Cyborgs Revisited until after we speak. The thing is, I’ve constructed my own myth around this album, I’ve rewritten rock history in my head, and I’m reluctant to let it go, for surely if rock’n’roll is about anything, it’s about gratuitous escapism – so I’m going to hang on to this movie script for a little while longer… 

“What a fantastic movie I’m in / what a fantastic scene I’m in…” 

[Scene: Backstage Velvet Underground performance, Max’s, August 22nd, 1970] 

Any similarity to characters real or fictional is…blah blah blah… 

DY: What’s the matter with you Lou – that was some hokey shit tonight? 

LR: Cuz the whole thing’s fucked you asshole. Your stupid Cyborg obsession – it’s getting us nowhere. What the fuck is a Cyborg anyhow? 

DY: Remember when you used to be rock’n’roll? Long time ago. You’re not even a footnote now. There’s stuff out there which is unbelievable Lou – wash out your ears, how can you not hear it? Look at the Ig guy – he’s insane. It’s just pure rock’n’roll…  

LR: Let him go and do his shit. Who’s gonna remember that? They called it right. Stooges!! Just a noise goin’ fucking nowhere Doug…Forty people out there tonight...Brigid snapping away –who’s gonna want tapes of us playing this shithole?… 

[SM (barely audible):hey…someone tell Jonathan to beat it…Jonathan get outta here man, go home…its late…] 

DY: Are you outta your mind? It’s not like we’re reaching out Lou – nobody came then, nobody’scomin’ now, nothin’s changed; let’s face it. But til now, at least we’ve been able to hold our heads up man. You know, I’m beginning to think Cale got it right. He got out cuz he knew this lame loser shit was on the way… 

LR: Hey, I got rid of that asshole… that’s precisely the kinda bullshit I might expect to hear from him!…I mean…avant garde, avant garde?! – thinks he’s John fucking Cage. One letter outta place in the name he thinks he’s a fucking genius. That one letter makes all the difference! He was never gonna be a star and neither are you Dougie boy. I’m a star, just like Andy says, and not for fifteen minutes either…just try to stop me honey. 

DY: I didn’t join the band to become a star Lou. You want your face on a magazine cover, that’s your business – I want more. I want people to talk about my music 50 years from now. 

LR: Your music!? What are you, some kinda comedian? What’ve you ever done? You’re just hanging on my coat-tails you asshole – just along for the ride! Playing supper clubs for twenty people ain’t gonna pay the bills. Well, what you gonna do after tomorrow, you’ll be on your own…cos it’s over…?  

DY: Asshole!  

LR: No, you’re the asshole… 

Of course, as we all know, Lou walked out the very next evening, before Yule dragged Velvets’ devotee Jonathan Richman with him and they, together with a noisy young Rimbaudesque poet called Richard Meyers, went on to blitzkrieg the vacuous coked up pomposity of early 70s rawk, with all its ludes and bad hair and mind numbingly bland guitar solos, via their paradigm-shifting interstellar punk rock… 

Or perhaps not… this is only a movie after all.  

…In actual fact, Yule made Squeeze the ‘fifth’ VU album, which nobody recognises as an authentic release – it wasn’t of course, as it featured none of the original members. By 1974 he had done nothing else but add guitar to Reed’s Sally Can’t Dance. He would resurface again with the feckless country rock of American Flyer just as punk was exploding. It turned out Doug Yule was never going to do anything authentically punk. But it was not outwith the realm of possibility that he could have been the prescient saviour of rock’n’roll. After all, he joined the Velvets right after White Light White Heat. The last ‘song’ they recorded before he walked in the door was ‘Sister Ray’. If that didn’t put him off, then it was still a hell of a long way to slide before he got to writing ‘Dopey Joe’… so my guess is he must have possessed a tiny kernel of the punk gene, but he buried it. Somewhere deep. Unless of course, he was, as Lou says, just along for the ride… 

So, instead it was left to some scraggy music & sci-fi obsessed teenagers from Ontario to pick up the mantle…their lives would be saved by rock’n’roll and they aimed to save it from annihilation along the way.  

“I like the way that you treat me like dirt…” 

Hamilton lies close to the Canadian/US border. The two US cities in closest proximity are Detroit and Cleveland – and if you’re looking for clues as to the origin of Simply Saucer’s sound, you need look no further. While the primary influence was undoubtedly The Velvets, Simply Saucer’s true kindred spirits were Iggy, MC5, Mirrors, Rocket From The Tombs and The Electric Eels, alongside a hearty dose of Krautrock and a psychedelic spattering of Syd’s Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. 

The band – Edgar Breau (guitar, vocals), Kevin Christoff (bass, vocals) John LaPlante – aka Ping Romany (electronics) and Neil De Merchant (drums) would hardly become household names; formed in 1973, they only ever released one single (in 1978) before quietly disbanding. It would take another ten years before an album collection finally emerged. Culled from only two sessions – one recorded in Bob and Daniel Lanois’ mother’s home in 1974, the other recorded live in Hamilton a year later – Cyborgs Revisited was the first full length document of their incredible music, and as such is one of the great lost albums of the 70s. 

A virulent distillation of acid-fried space rock, and brutal urban punk, it comes over as a deranged masterpiece. ‘Instant Pleasure’ possesses the shambolic jerk of the Neon Boys’ ‘Love Comes In Spurts’ although predates it. As Breau pleads “Let me sleep inside of your cage / I want to feel your sexual rage”, Christoff’s impossibly spasmodic bass convulses around Romany’s anarchic theremin noodlings. ‘Electro Rock’s garage riff could be something off MC5s High Time. Delivered in Breau’s slovenly sneer it is laid to waste by a collision of screeching guitar, pummelling bass and some bizarre electro-magnetic loops. ‘Nazi Apocalypse’ degenerates magnificently into a big Ron Asheton wah-wah scorched earth guitar storm and the instrumental ‘Mole Machine’ is like a psychic summons to outer space by a college of math rock guitar freaks beckoning with all their might (and incomprehensible formulae) the descent of the mothership…it succumbs gladly to their invocation. 

On ‘Bullet Proof Nothing’ Breau does indeed does sound like Yule having a crack at ‘Sweet Jane’ with The Modern Lovers providing the back up. (“Treat me like dirt, drive me insane / treat me like dirt now, tear out my brain… I’m just bullet proof nothing to you / Point blank target for your waves of abuse.”) Despite the nihilistic sentiment, it’s the most accessible thing on here, and would have fitted comfortably onto Loaded or even Transformer and even ennobled both of them. At any rate it truly is one of the great lost tracks of the 70s. 

But it is no exaggeration to say that the live tracks (which comprise Side Two of the album) – recorded on a roof on Jackson Square on June 28th 1975 are just staggering – a revelation. The live version of ‘Cyborgs Revisited’ is an astonishing sonic assault with more killer guitar riffs than James Williamson could accumulate on the entire Kill City LP. And that’s saying something. It briefly melts down into a blues jam and then knocks satellites out of the sky before the discordant thrash at the tail – a precursor to The Fall’s ‘Hip Priest’. Meanwhile, ‘Dance The Mutation’ is like a Jumpin’ Jack Flash Jagger cranking it out over an unstoppable tidal wave of nuclear moog radiation from Romany which evidently hungers to swallow up everything in its path. And as for ‘Illegal Bodies’ well, it captures on tape one of the most viscerally exhilarating guitar performances ever recorded. Think for one moment of ‘Run Run Run’ – it’s a smack song right? Well, ‘Illegal Bodies’ has that guitar, but Breau propels the song forward with such amphetamine fuelled momentum that, cut loose from its moorings, it spills its guts out all over the place…a sprawling mess of sheer punk adrenalin. 
Now imagine if Breau, Romany and co had been afforded proper exposure at the time. Surely rock history would have been rewritten and perhaps punk would never have happened at all. There would have been no need. Julian Cope wrote a genius review of it on his Head Heritage site around 15 years ago – it’s here (https://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/albumofthemonth/simply-saucer-cybords-revisited) and no-one has came close to it since, so there may be a chance you’ve tracked it down before now, but if it’s something you haven’t heard yet, then I envy you your first listen. This is the stuff you’ve been looking for. (JJ)

Sean Palmerston reviews Saucerland for Label Obscura 

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Simply Saucer – Saucerland 2LP 

July 24, 2016 in reviews 

Album Title: SaucerlandArtist: Simply SaucerLabel: Logan HardwareRelease Date: May 2016Artist Website: www.simplysaucer.com BUY THE ALBUM 

Before I review this, I feel I should put a disclaimer on this article. As some may or may not know, I was the project co-ordinator for the 2003 reissue of Cyborgs Revisited that Sonic Unyon Records released. I have a long running professional relationship with members of the band. However, I paid my hard earned cash for this two-LP set and would recommend that you do the same too. 

Saucerland is made up of rarities and songs that have never been released on vinyl before. Some of these songs are previously released – both as bonus tracks on the Cyborgs Revisited expanded reissue CD and on a Black To Comm CD compilation – but none of them have ever been on black wax before. A number of the tracks here come from the band’s legendary copyright tape, a cassette they recorded in their practice space and then mailed themselves so that they’d have proof of copyright of the songs back in the mid-70s. 

The key track on Saucerland as far as I am concerned is the live take of “Clearly Invisible”. Recorded live at Carleton Place Arena in 1978, bassist Kevin Christoff says the song was the only song to get applause that evening: “one person actually applauded.” It is an absolutely mind-melting live version that really has to be heard to be believed. Another favourite on this double LP is “Brain Shock”, a song co-written by singer Edgar Breau and long-serving drummer Don Cramer. The song has a twisted edge to it that sounds to my ears like it could be a classic Roky Erickson song. However, these are just two of the great songs on this record. 

As a compilation, Saucerland works well. Galactic Zoo Dossier zine publisher Steve Krakow has done a good job with the tracklisting and it is very nice that the label let Christoff write a paragraph or so about each individual track. I also like the page of liner notes given by both Pig Records’ owner Gary Pig Gold (who released the original SS 7” way back in the seventies) and journalist Jesse Locke, who has just completed a book on the entire history of the Saucer that is intended for release soon. 

Rumour has it that later this year LA’s In The Red Records will be reissuing Cyborgs Revisited once again, something which should bring the legendary album to the ears of even more music listeners once again. This 2LP compilation is a great accompanying piece to the original album and it is well worth owning if you are even a little bit interested in this legendary, groundbreaking Hamilton, Ontario band. Search it out, you won’t be disappointed. 

(Logan Hardware) 

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By Sean Palmerston 

Sean Palmerston is a vinyl loving music nerd who also loves NHL hockey, Godzilla movies and hanging out with his kids. A former contributing writer to a number of publications, including Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs and VICE, Sean also runs the all metal webzine Hellbound.ca 

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Simply Saucer - Saucerland 

Logan Hardware/Galactic Archives have dug into the archives and come up with a stellar double LP of previously unreleased Simply Saucer jams. What the heck is Simply Saucer? They were a 1970s proto-punk/psych teenaged band based in Hamilton, Ontario who were way too far ahead of their time to get the recognition they deserved at the time. But collectors caught up with them in the 1980s and the renewed interest resulted in Cyborgs Revisited, a killer collection that showed off the band’s deranged Velvets-meets-Hawkwind damage in all its glory.  

This new release offers more of the same, and it is totally righteous – I’ll leave it to Christopher at the venerable Black to Comm zine-blog to sum it up: “Said it before (and will say it again) but this is that Velvet Underground spawn filtered through other VU/Stooges ideals (Can/Faust/Suicide…) done up as only teenaged Ontarioites could muster!” 

There’s more Simply Saucer activity on the horizon for 2016: In The Red is reissuing Cyborgs Revisited on wax and Toronto journalist Jesse Locke is polishing off Heavy Metalloid: The Story of Simply Saucer, due to be published later this year. Check out an excerpt! The band still exists, too – and judging from this incredible recording of “Illegal Bodies” from 2015, they are still very much capable of kicking out the jams. What a fantastic movie I’m in!!!   

simply saucer13 notes May 10th, 2016 
   

MORE YOU MIGHT LIKE

Eternal Cavalier Press is proud to announce the release details of their 6th title, Heavy Metalloid Music: The Story of Simply Saucer.  

 

Eternal Cavalier Press is proud to announce the release details of their 6th title, Heavy Metalloid Music: The Story of Simply Saucer. 

Written by Toronto-based music journalist Jesse Locke (AUX, Weird Canada) Heavy Metalloid Music is the official biography of Hamilton’s legendary psych/proto-punk band Simply Saucer, who first launched into orbit in 1973. They were so far outside of the curve during their original ’70s lifespan that they wouldn’t be recognized until their recordings were finally released in 1989 as the posthumous collection, Cyborgs Revisited. An expanded 40th anniversary edition of Cyborgs Revisited will be soon be re-released on celebrated garage label In The Red. 

Heavy Metalloid Music will be available at select independent bookstores across Canada, online retailers as well as the Eternal Cavalier Press website in November 2016. An exclusive excerpt and interview with Jesse Locke is now available at Open Book. 

When punk hit Canada in the late 1970s Simply Saucer became quasi-rivals of Teenage Head (even stealing guitarist Steve “Sparky” Park) and existed on the fringes of the Toronto scene. Their live shows blew minds and their work ethic was unmatched, rehearsing nearly every night (including Christmas) in the basement of the infamous Saucer House. After a decade of obscurity, the band was finally swallowed up by a black hole of drugs, crime, supernatural rituals, and suicide. After 40 years, Simply Saucer have slowly found their way back to earth. 

Part oral history and part zine-style chronicle, Heavy Metalloid Music includes interviews with current and former members of Simply Saucer, plus their musical contemporaries, writers, fans, label heads, and others sucked into the Saucer’s tractor beam. Alongside a collection of rarely seen photos and other vintage materials, it also shares the story of Thee Gnostics, The Battleship, Ethel, and Zacht Automaat. These Hamilton psychedelic survivors have carried on the spirit of Simply Saucer, proving there has always been something in Steeltown causing expanding heads to create their own fantasies. 

Jesse Locke has become Simply Saucer’s official biographer and contributed the liner notes to Saucerland, a new collection of Simply Saucer archival recordings released on Logan Hardware/Galactic Zoo Archive. 

“The idea of a group of record collectors creating their own version of the Velvet Underground, Hawkwind, and Soft Machine in complete isolation and with limited means (in the early 1970s no less!) is completely awe-inspiring,” says Locke. “Of course their versions turned out way weirder than their heroes, with dystopian lyrical themes of cyborgs, Nazis, and comic book super-villains.” 

Simply Saucer’s sole studio recordings of this era took place in the basement bunker of brothers Bob and Daniel Lanois, who would famously go on to work with the likes of Brian Eno, U2, and other musical bigwigs. The sessions were a raw, off-the-floor shamble, with several songs captured in a single take. The lyrics, influenced by sci-fi, comic books, and first-hand experiences with crime-infested street life, were written in a Beat-style stream of consciousness. 

“After getting to know the band members throughout hours of interviews, I also discovered that they’re a lot like me and my friends,” says Locke. “Their story should be relatable to anyone in a hometown band that never made it big, but it’s also completely unique.” 

(Photo credit: Julia Dickens) 

Jesse Locke is the editor of music and culture website AUX. He is a founding contributor and former music editor of the award-winning online publication Weird Canada. He currently plays in Century Palm. Jesse has written about Simply Saucer for releases from the record labels In The Red, Logan Hardware/Galactic Zoo Archive, and Mammoth Cave Recording Co. This is his first book. 

Jesse Locke is available for interviews. Please contact Adam Kesek to arrange an interview. 

 

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Saucerland 

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Noisy rock with a cosmic reach from Simply Saucer – a great Ontario band with roots in the mid 70s era in which the best underground rock often bridged late 60s and early 70s art rock to wilder sounds of the punk and post-punk eras to come – and they that and more! To call Saucerland a collection of rarities from that creatively fertile period in the band's history would be ...well, accurate, but even their most famous material isn't the easiest stuff to find! Truly great stuff, culled from band's archives, mostly from the mid-to-late 70s. Proto-punk with a love of Hawkwind – which pretty easy for us to love! Includes "Rock And Roll The Brain Cells", "I Take It", "Baby Nova", "Ring-A-Ling-Oh-My", "Nice Noise", "Clearly Invisible", "Brain Shock", "I Don't Care", "Takin You Down", "(More) Illegal Bodies", "Teemage Dream", "Bullet Proof Nothing", "Almost Ready Betty", "Limitless Love" and "The Story Of Simply Saucer".  © 1996-2016, Dusty Groove, Inc.

Cyborgs Revisited to be reissued! 

Simply Saucer's garage punk classic, Cyborgs Revisited, is set to be reissued as an expanded double vinyl LP on In the Red records.In the Red Records is an independent record label in Los Angeles, CA formed in 1991 by Larry Hardy. It is known for hosting garage punk related bands on its label.

Logan Hardware Records release new Simply Saucer double LP Saucerland 

Chicago record label, Logan Hardware Records have released a new collection of Simply Saucer archival recordings on a double LP called Sauceland.
With liner notes by the band's biographer Jesse Locke and invdividual song commentary by longtime bassist, Kevin Christoff this beautifully designed package (by Chicagoan artist, writer, musician Steve Krakow) features many previously unreleased vintage live tracks from the 1970's.

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