Sometimes People Forget

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The band Translator originally formed in Los Angeles, but their career caught fire when they relocated to San Francisco in 1980, which in retrospect makes perfect sense -- though their songs were full of memorable hooks and strong melodies, they were a poor fit for either the punk or power pop scenes in L.A., while their psychedelic influences and flashes of prog rock angularity made a lot more sense in the context of the San Fran music community, which was far more accepting of groups with an arty edge. In 1982, Translator released their first album, Heartbeats and Triggers, which was another example of the fortuitous aspects of the move to Northern California -- between the time they signed with local indie 415 Records and the time the album was released, 415 struck a distribution deal with Columbia Records, which meant they now had major-label distribution and promotion behind them. Translator ended up releasing four albums in five years and touring relentlessly before fatigue caught up with them and they called it quits in the summer of 1986. However, those four LPs didn't collect the totality of Translator's songwriting efforts, and Sometimes People Forget is a collection of demo recordings cut between 1979 and 1985 that includes a fistful of otherwise undocumented songs as well as early versions of several tunes, including their college rock hit "Everywhere That I'm Not" and "Get Out," which appeared with different lyrics (flowing much better than the demo's well-meaning but clumsy political screed) on the album No Time Like Now as "Beyond Today." In the studio Translator were usually served with a slight layer of gloss, but these demos are generally rougher in execution, and though the band sounds quite good in these recordings, the bash-it-out simplicity reveals another side of Translator, one more direct, energetic, and less refined than on LP. In addition to giving longtime fans the chance to hear some songs that never made the cut, Sometimes People Forget is a reasonable substitute for the live album Translator never made; the live-in-the-studio immediacy of these early drafts comes close to the passion and energy Translator summoned on-stage, and reveals a smart but muscular rock & roll edge sharper than their studio work. Sometimes People Forget preserves a different side of Translator's musical personality, but also confirms their core strengths -- great songs, tight instrumental interplay, and commitment to an original vision. For longtime fans, this is a welcome addition to the catalog.

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