By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
The company releasing Positive, the latest album by Lord of Word and the Disciples of Bass, is Boulder's Rabid Records; at least that's what it says on the CD's packaging, which you'll soon be able to read for yourself. (A release bash honoring the new disc is now scheduled to take place November 15 at the Fox Theatre.) But neither Rabid nor Club Dog Studio, the facility at which Positive was cut, are in good shape right now. One's on life support and the other's all but dead.
Says producer Bill Thomas, a longtime part of the Rabid/Club Dog team: "The studio was seized by the Boulder County tax assessors for non-payment of property taxes. I was standing in there one day doing a session, and all of a sudden there was the sheriff, respectfully requesting that we get our tapes and get the hell out." Thomas says the trust that owns the studio has until October 28 to make good on the tax bill; otherwise, the equipment there will be sold at auction. "It may turn out to be a good deal for somebody else," Thomas says, "but it's a shame that it's turned out this way. It's just another one of those promising local stories that went up in smoke."
Indeed, Rabid, which was founded during the early Nineties, initially seemed like the kind of operation that might help spread the word about Colorado music to the rest of the country. The three bands on the imprint's roster--the Jonez, Love Lies and Lord of Word--all dripped with potential. But the Jonez, after years of failing to make the leap to a national stage, called it quits a couple of years back. (Jonez leader Byron Shaw now fronts Judge Roughneck; two other members joined Lord of Word.) And Love Lies? Jeff Lipton, who served both as the band's frontman and the overseer of Rabid and Club Dog, reveals that the combo has gone the way of all flesh. "The last gig we played was February," he says. "There was no formal breakup. It just sort of faded away."
All of which leaves Lord of Word as Rabid's last act. "Other than that, the label's not active right now," Lipton confirms. "We're using Rabid distri-bution connections and so on for the album. But Rabid is pretty much just a legal channel through which we're releasing the record."
So where does that leave Thomas and Lipton? The former has moved on to Fanfare Studio, where he's currently recording J. Jones and Soul Pursuit (featuring several noteworthy Lord of Word veterans) and a slew of Native American groups, including Boulder's Pawnee Yellow Horse. In the meantime, Lipton has joined (surprise, surprise) Lord of Word as the outfit's saxophone and keyboard player. As this column hits the streets, the band is playing a series of dates throughout the Midwest. "We have a van now, and we're down to seven people in the group, so it's a lot more feasible for us to tour," he says. Since building an out-of-state fan base for Lord of Word is now Lipton's top priority, he adds, "There's little incentive to keep Club Dog from closing."
A Not Lame Recordings update:
When we last checked in with Bruce Brodeen, owner of this Denver-based power-pop label, the company was just beginning to receive some national press; it was prominently mentioned in a Billboard cover story, for example. Since then, however, the operation (which had the good fortune to emerge at a time when Oasis and other acts like it were making melodic pop-rock fashionable again) has gone international, garnering fawning mentions in British publications such as Melody Maker and acquiring a special section in London's Virgin megastore.
To keep up with swelling demand, Brodeen is planning five releases during the next several months. The first of these (due later in October) is The World's Greatest Power Pop Album...Ever!, a 22-track compilation featuring power-pop heroes the Rooks (a Not Lame signee), Martin Luther Lennon (founder of the Los Angeles-based pop festival Poptopia), Heavy Into Jeff (a San Francisco combo Brodeen describes as "Nirvana-meets-Tim-era-Replacements") and the Umajets (featuring former members of Jellyfish). Other projects include full-lengths by New Zealand's Dead Flowers, New York City's Wunderband, Lennon, and the Rooks, who will also appear on a three-CD history of power pop scheduled to be released by Rhino Records in January. "They're the only Nineties representative that wasn't on a major label," Brodeen says. "So that's really kind of a coup for them, and for me."
In the meantime, the roster of pop items Brodeen distributes has grown to 600 pieces. (Folks interested in sampling the cream of this crop can find 25 releases personally selected by Brodeen at Twist & Shout, 300 East Alameda.) "The whole thing has just exploded. It's out of hand," Brodeen says. "It's hard to believe, but I'm actually making a living from it."
As a result of the recent Ticketmaster showcase at the Mercury Cafe, not one, but two Denver acts have been chosen to appear at regional semi-finals sponsored by the corporate behemoth. Five52Fern appears in San Francisco on October 29, and Turnsol travels to Houston on October 30. Just twenty bands nationwide have made it to this level of the contest--and aside from Denver, only Lawrence, Kansas, is represented by more than one act. The top five combos from the various bills will advance to a Los Angeles showcase sometime in November.