Dischord/Sammich LP, 1987
Early recorded Soulside (released in 87 but recorded a year earlier) suggests a band that was a bit boxed into the Dischord/Positive Punk paint-by-numbers thing. It's no wonder that the band (minus their singer) eventually packed up their axes and moved to NYC to form the indie band Girls Against Boys (along with friend and co-producer of this record Eli Janney) and the fried and damaged New Wet Kojak. But a live Soulside set "back in the day" was always riveting to watch if not always musically interesting. They eventually got it together in their studio work. I'll toast anyone that says Hot Bodi Gram is essential for the well-rounded record collection.
This album seems unfinished, under-rehearsed and with the exceptions of a few songs, the band doesn't even seem into it. And as Joe Carducci says, every good band starts with the drummer and Alex Fleisig's barely competent drumming here (he gets better) is ham-handed and clumsy. And I'll save my gripes about Don Z's recording skills during this period as I've already vented elsewhere.
But even that can't mar "I Find The Other Side" because it's just a damn good song. Showcasing the band's signature building, moving chord structures and singer Bobby Sullivan's dexterous live custom of finding the right place to ride out the groove. This was a staple in their sets and a high point of at least one of the shows I saw. "Dreams" also soars above the rest of the cuts with an uncommon acoustic rhythm guitar track serving as the foundation. It allows Scott McCloud, who normally has to carry the songs on this record, to relax a bit and turn in a some bonny guitar hooks and riffs. Again Bobby's singing is superb.
Also of note here is a failed attempt to cover Wire's "Ex-Lion Tamer" -- props for the well-meaning attempt and classy selection, though. And I like "Fresh Air" which noisily closes the record on an upbeat note and a promise of more good, albeit more downbeat stuff to come. In the end, though, Less Deep Inside Keeps might have taken its own title's advice and just released this as a two-song single.
The band line-up is in this picture (click to see - credit Marce Sterner). There's no mention of bassist Johnny Temple playing on this record. The cover photo (above) is by the great Cynthia Connolly - Chris Bald contributes a drawing of the band on the flipside of the album cover.
- "I Find The Other Side" - Soulside (160 kbps)
- "Dreams" - Soulside (160 kbps)
- Fine print: Songs up for limited time and are recorded straight from vinyl (with clicks and clacks intact). Readers who enjoy are encouraged to buy the records. I don't endorse file sharing except for research. This is a not-for-profit, for love of music website. I don't take advertising, tip jars or do pay-for-links. I don't solicit promos either (although if you want to send me something that's cool). Bands retain full copyright, of course, and upon request from band or label will immediately take down songs, etc. with no recriminations or gripes.
- Something I Learned Today provides an alternative take on this recording in a November 2004 review of their three albums: "Sounds positively sunny in comparison to their later releases. Still holds up pretty good." So don't take my word for it because...
- This record is still apparently in print and can be bought off the Dischord Records Soulside Webpage - try here if that doesn't work.
- Southern Records maintains a site on Soulside that has links to the band member's follow-on projects
- Besides Chris Bald's drawing the back of the record and some liner notes, there's this quote "Becoming Less To Be Nothing" which might explain the odd title of the record as being rooted in Zen? Just a guess.
- Scott McCloud talked about Soulside and the problem with being a Dischord/DC band during the Fugazi era in Only Angels Have Wings:
When Soulside was really first starting out…we started actually before Fugazi… there are definitely similarities between Soulside & Girls vs Boys musically, rhythmically. It’s very different lyrically, I am a very different singer than Bobby Sullivan was (Scott was only on guitar in Soulside) – not as melodic for example. At a certain point…doing a band in DC, at a certain point it’s a bit…we sort of…we were a little bit….at a certain point….I don’t want to say it the wrong way because I totally respect Fugazi, they’ve been an inspiration to me but in a certain point doing a band in DC is irritating because everywhere you go, people keep comparing you to Fugazi. Everything’s like Fugazi or not. After Soulside came out and when we moved out to New-York, in our mind we wanted to change our sound a little bit and get away from the Fugazi thing.