Ohio was coughing up all kinds of interesting artists in the late ‘70s, from Devo to Pere Ubu, but one of the most underappreciated acts to emerge from the Buckeye State in that era was Human Switchboard, whose first single was actually mixed by Ubu frontman David Thomas. But the Switchboard didn't sport many sonic connections to the aforementioned acts -- if anything, the emotional/psychological claustrophobia inherent in singer/guitarist Bob Pfeifer's compositions and delivery was perhaps some kind of spiritual second cousin to that of onetime Ubu member/subsequent solo artist Peter Laughner. Like Laughner, Pfeifer seemed fascinated with the idea of bringing Lou Reed's Velvet Underground visions into the post-punk era, with organist/singer Myrna Marcarian doing double duty as both the John Cale and the Nico to Pfeifer's Reed. But while Pfeifer spat out his lyrics with an agitated edge, like a cross between Lou and Television's Tom Verlaine, Marcarian's organ sound bore more of a ‘60s garage rock flavor, making it sound like the Mysterians had just dropped in for a jam. At the same time, her vocals added a crucial contrast by bringing in a touch of warmth and relative emotional calm, and her more melodic delivery underlined hidden pop possibilities within the Switchboard's post-punky attack. But the band's discography remains distressingly slim -- by the time they split up in the mid-‘80s they had released only an EP, a single, one studio album, and one live record. Who's Landing in My Hangar? Anthology 1977-1984 shares the first part of its title with the band's 1981 album, which is included here in its entirety, but it also picks up the other pieces of the Human Switchboard puzzle, bringing together not tracks they released during their too-short lifetime as well as intriguing, unreleased material, including some 1983 demos recorded sans audience at CBGB. While this 21-track collection doesn't include every single Switchboard cut, it nevertheless adroitly addresses a grievous gap in the recorded history of American post-punk, as the Human Switchboard discography was entirely out of print until this disc's 2011 release.
AllMusic Review by James Allen