Pell Mell

Bumper Crop

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Given that two members of Pell Mell were renowned record producers, it's not surprising that the sound on Bumper Crop is polished to a high gloss. Instrumental rock needs pristine sound, and the crisp mix here allows every nuance to shine. The musical interplay is seamless, with every track drawing variously from surf music, indie rock, and pop, with just a dash of punk energy to make things interesting. What makes this instrumental cooperation astonishing is that for most of Pell Mell's existence, the bandmembers all lived in different cities and composed many of these tight, complex melodies by recording cassettes and mailing them to each other. Some of the material here had been recorded as early as 1981, others as late as 1985, but the character is the same throughout. Greg Freeman and Dave Spalding create interlocking guitar melodies that are subtly modified and expanded by Steve Fisk's keyboards and held together by Bob Beerman's quick, agile drumming. It all works well and was very well-received -- critics raved, and despite rock radio's aversion to instrumentals, the cut "Week of Fire" got airplay across America. On Bumper Crop, Pell Mell recorded a nearly perfect album, and while they did some fine work afterward, they never quite hit this level again. [Note: Different and extended versions of some of these songs are available on the cassette For Years We Stood Clearly As One Thing, released on K Records.]

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