Peter Laughner

Peter Laughner [2019]

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For decades, Peter Laughner has been a fascinating enigma to the handful of music fans who know who he was. He was a guitarist, songwriter, and rock writer who was a crucially important figure in the Cleveland music scene of the early to mid-'70s; among many other things, he was a member of the fabled pre-punk band Rocket from the Tombs, as well as the first line-up of Pere Ubu. But it would be many years before the significance of the Cleveland scene of the '70s would be fully acknowledged by music historians, and Laughner died in 1977 at the age of 24, when his work was only just beginning to be heard outside Ohio. He barely made any studio recordings in his lifetime, and he never released a solo project. But the scraps of demos and live recordings that have been recovered prove that Laughner was a major talent who vanished before he could be given his proper hearing. The 1995 collection Take the Guitar Player for a Ride (sadly out of print) was the first attempt to make a case for Laughner's many gifts, but with the 2019 box set Peter Laughner, the archivists at Smog Veil Records have created a loving and suitably ambitious release that not only affirms Laughner's remarkable talent, but presents a rich, compelling picture of a career that was strikingly eclectic and satisfying, despite his early passing. Laughner has been closely associated with the Midwestern proto-punk scene, but Peter Laughner makes the point that he had other interests, as well. This box set portrays Laughner as a man who loved Robert Johnson, Lowell George, John Sebastian, Jesse Winchester, and Van Morrison the same way he loved Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Television, and while he dug fierce rock & roll, he had room in his heart for any music that expressed passion and adventure; his low-key acoustic recordings are just as compelling as his full electric workouts, sometimes even more so. Laughner was a remarkable songwriter, and numbers like "Cinderella Backstreet," "(Going To) China," "Dear Richard," and "Amphetamine" (the latter was interpolated into Wilco's "Misunderstood") reveal an unusual maturity and depth despite his youth. But in his covers, he shows that the same thinking that made him a fine tunesmith allowed him to uncover overlooked elements in the work of others, and his between-song comments point to his deep knowledge and affection for so much of the rock pantheon. Peter Laughner doesn't seem concerned with the notion of what he could have done had he lived past 24; instead, these five LPs (or CDs) revel in what he did create, and if Laughner's career was cut tragically short, these tapes document a span of five years in which he created enough smart, exciting, and heartfelt music to last a lifetime.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Amazon
2 Amazon
3 Amazon
4 Amazon
5 Amazon
6 Amazon
7 Amazon
8 Amazon
9
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
10
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
11
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
12
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
13
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
14
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
15
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
16 Amazon
17
feat: Mike Sands
Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick