Tin Huey

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It's a measure of how much more adventurous major record labels used to be that such a willfully non-commercial outfit as Akron's Tin Huey got signed to Warner Brothers Records for their 1979 debut, Contents Dislodged During Shipment. However, it's considerably less surprising that the album was promoted little, sold even less, and the group was summarily dropped very shortly afterward. The various bandmembers went on to other projects, with guitarist/junior songwriter Chris Butler's Waitresses and reed and horn player Ralph Carney's Swollen Monkeys being the most high profile. Twenty years later, the original lineup of Tin Huey regrouped and recorded a new album. Although the playful liner notes take the album's title literally, claiming that these songs are old recordings just now being gathered, they're in fact all brand new with the exception of a pair of ringers, the 1978 single "The Tin Huey Story" and a live track from the same year, "Seeing." The songs do date from the late '70s, though. Carney's "Closet Bears" could not sound more like early Devo, fellow Akronites whose early history was inextricably bound with that of the Hueys. Butler's sole songwriting contribution, "Wise Up," is an old live favorite that later showed up on the first Waitresses album. Disinformation ranges all the way from the tight funk of "Blow 'Em Away," which could pass for a Tower of Power outtake, to a manic but reverential cover of Robert Wyatt's disturbing "Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road" (Wyatt, along with Frank Zappa, was Tin Huey's biggest influence), stopping along the way for a surprisingly poppy pair of could-be hit singles, "Cheap Mechanics" and "Missing Persons." Carney's unique, free jazz-influenced reeds and horns and Harvey Gold's Sun Ra-inspired piano fills dominate the sound, but as on Contents Dislodged During Shipment, the songs are filled with odd noises and slippery time-signature changes. For some reason, though, this album sounds just slightly more accessible than Tin Huey's debut.

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