Saturday, April 25, 2009

Scratch & Sniff

All this talk about the mid to late seventies Cleveland scene - and the great Pere Ubu in particular - on the inspiring Siblingshot on the Bleachers blog made me think of another Ohio scene: the Akron one. Known as the rubber capital of the world, Akron was famous for its local sphere of musical activity for a short while when the mighty Stiff label released a showcase called The Akron Compilation in 1978. The album cover featured a scratch & sniff rubber tyre in the right-hand corner, and believe it or not, three decades later my copy still smells faintly of rubber when I rub a fingernail over it.

None of the featured artists really managed to hit the big time later on, and as far as I know Akron never produced any band of note since. But The Akron Compilation still stands as a worthy testimony of what once was, and definitely deserves a cd release. Just check out the following gems by Rachel Sweet (a great singer), Tin Huey (Ubu-inspired weirdness), Jane Aire & The Belvederes (nice pop, complete with a searching-the-radio-waves intro) and the Waitresses (funky!) for proof.

Rachel Sweet - Truck Stop Queen MP3
Tin Huey - Chinese Circus MP3
Jane Aire & The Belvederes - When I Was Young MP3
The Waitresses - Slide MP3


Private Beach said...

No band of note, maybe, but don't forget Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders is from Akron.

Ramone666 said...

That´s right of course PB, but I guess she was already raising hell in London at the time.

JR said...

One of the best bands of the last decade, The Black Keys, are from Akron.

Ramone666 said...

Thanks for the update RWC, I didn´t know that.

Joe non Papa said...


Anonymous said...


And what I am really looking for is an MP3 of Alex Bevin's "Skinny little boy from Cleveland Ohio" as well as a song he used to do in the 70's live every friday afternoon on WMMS called "Ho For the Weekend!"

(Back in the mid 80's I actually saw Alex Bevin live at a Bar in Akron called Mr. Bilbo's while attending the UofA)

Ramone666 said...

Thanks for your input Joe, I had totally forgotten they hailed from Akron as well. And come to think of it, as Devo debuted on Stiff in the UK, they were probably instrumental in getting this compilation released.

ib said...

Great call, Ramone666; I haven't heard mention of this LP since - well - 1979 when Stiff went over hard on Akron and shot itself in the foot. The big surprise here is just how great the Tin Huey track is - Ubu, yes, but more kind of like Zappa meets the Residents. I don't recall it made much of an impression on me at the time. I seem to remember the Watresses had a bigger pull.

Oh. And I forgot that Devo hailed from Rubber City too. Unforgivable.

Ramone666 said...

Glad I´m not the only one Ib!

bigsteveno said...

Man, that scratch n sniff thing was nasty when it was new. Be grateful that the smell is faint now.

This album really takes me back. The Waitresses did achieve some kind of fame, but even Tin Huey put out an album on Warner Bros. Those were the days. The great Chris Butler was in The Waitresses and Tin Huey. I love the other Waitresses song on this album -- The Comb.

Maybe inspired by this album, lots of cities put out scene comps in the late 70s/early 80s. Most of them of course were not this good, usually a mixture of punks, skinny tie bands, and slumming club pros. But they're fascinating snapshots.

Anonymous said...

My home town - Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo)
Available on Ralph records "Potatoes" compilation

My home town
Is the greatest in the land
The people all there
They treat you all square
And give you a place to stand

My home town
It's more than a town you know
It's my home town
It's my home town
It's Akron, Ohio!

My home town
It's a special kind of place
Hard working folks
With chips on their shoulders
People crammed in sub-human space

My home town
It's more than a town to me
It's more than plain
It's a city of pain
It's one big factory!

Mithra said...

And let's not forget Bill Allen and the Keynotes! Bill is being inducted to the Rock A Billy hall of fame for "Please Give Me Something".

Ramone666 said...

Which happens to be a rockabilly favourite of mine, Mithra. Didn't know he hailed from the rubber city though.