Real Damage, The Gossip / Tracy + The Plastics split 7″ was limited to 100, hand-numbered, screen printed copies, and was acquired, to the best of my knowledge, at a Har Mar Superstar show at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. The Gossip opened up for Har Mar, and totally blew me and my party away, and is a great prop to scratch that electro-garage-rock itch. Real Damage also has a grey marble vinyl release, as well as a pink vinyl release, both with a different, much more produced covers. The more you know, I guess…
My history with the famed prodigy of sensual sleaze is both long and enduring. Having accidentally stumbled across his sexual shtick back in 2000 at a sold out Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music show at a now unknown Chicago club, my 21-year-old self couldn’t quite comprehend exactly what the hell this beefy, golden-voiced Midwesterner was doing up on stage between sets. His passion and talent eclipsed the belly laughs and sneers from the late winter crowd, and I was instantly struck with a rush of awe and morbid curiosity. I believe he played two songs that night, one of them being an early favorite (thanks to this “show”) Baby Do You Like My Clothes?
This album, Har Mar Superstar’s first, features the two bonus tracks, Wet Lovin’ and Sexual Contractor, and was acquired at the now defunct Atomic Records in Milwaukee. I distinctly remember a brief conversation with the store clerk and his overt disdain for my purchase. To each their own.
Underneath the wet and slippery layer of erotic bravado is an imaginative and intelligent songwriter with a beautiful voice, and the zeal of a thousand burning suns. Go in for the laugh, come out with overwhelming appreciation.
It’s without proper and respectful merit that Har Mar Superstar’s 2nd full length, You Can Feel Me, doesn’t have a proper vinyl release. Power Lunch and EZ Pass did, however, graduate to the respectful spin, but the full-length has yet to rear its prominent head. I demand this album on vinyl… others… make it so!
A few days ago we had an earthquake here in Southern California. Initially it was monitored as a 4.7, and then was downgraded to a 4.4. How a conscious-inducing seismic anomaly can be reduced in mere hours is beyond my pre-K comprehension. Anyway, my girlfriend and I have, what I believe to be, a rational and logical understanding about what to do when the planet has a seizure. She finds the closest doorway, and I rush to the record wall to keep it from falling. Makes perfect sense to me, although death by records is not necessarily something my GF is keen to. After our 4.7 (or 4.4, depending on what wizardry of scientific evaluation you trust) we regained composure, picked up a few things that the Earth apparently wanted on the floor, and we went along about our day.
Among the debris of gravitational plunging, was a drumstick I luckily acquired from a Ministry concert during their 2003 Fornicatour (that’s what it was called). It had been resting above the doorframe to the office, opposite the drumstick from a Har Mar Superstar show I’d seized sometime in 2007 (my only two concert acquisitions). Since this was the first quake I had witnessed to knock anything over, the image of that beat-up baton lying helpless on the floor stuck with me. So now, I drop it here, like it has been dropped before, first from the stage to my outstretched arm, then to the floor from that early morning tremor. Beware of tumbling matter, kids, for when drumsticks fall from the sky, anything is seemingly possible.
The affection I have towards my addiction (of collecting records) is not unlike a relationship. A relationship filled with ecstasy and hopeless bleak despair. Looking back at my nearly 20-year relationship (fugg I’m old!), certain milestones come to mind that mark my progression/devolution. Like for instance, my first record store.
One never forgets their first time.
It was, and is still called Mad City Music Exchange and was, and is still located on Willy St. (Williamson St.) a few blocks from the State Capitol in Madison, WI. It was here where I began to build my (nearing completion) Beastie Boys discography, where I obtained my Big Rig 7” (Jesse from Op Ivy’s band after Op Ivy), and whose owner agreed to be interviewed by a High School Senior version of me for a fictitious record store I was to own and operate for a Marketing project. I’ll never forget his response after I gleefully informed him that I too wanted to own and operate an independent record store. His reply, “Why would you want to do a thing like that?”
As with many relationships, things just don’t work out. There is the whole “growing apart” thing, the “I dig your store but not your prices, so, you know, let’s just be friends” thing, and the “common necessity for relocation” thing. (THAT’S IT! THOSE ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT DOOM A RELATIONSHIP! I kid.) So when opportunity (and my parents) moved me to Milwaukee, I was in desperate need of finding a new lover; a pusher for my audio starved addiction.
Enter Atomic Records.
Atomic Records was then, what Hollywood’s legendary Amoeba Music is now. If you’ve been to Amoeba in Hollywood, you get an idea of what I’m talking (writing) about. Atomic was my one-stop-shop for just about everything! Sleeves, Rocket from the Crypt stickers, tickets to BS 2000 shows, rare UK Zines, Christmas gifts for my father (who also collects records), my Har Mar Superstar picture disc, t-shirts, and sometimes live acoustic shows by nearby Chicago bands.
I’d stop in at Atomic 3-4 times a week while attending UW Milwaukee. There was something romantic about that shop in the dark winter months. With warm, inviting lights and the childlike anticipation of finding a coveted gem, Atomic almost acted like a temporary dose of sanity while helping me to forget about the death that is winter in Wisconsin. It was a safe haven, if only at 30-minute increments.
After leaving Milwaukee and moving to the much more mentally sustainable environment of Southern California, I found other record shop relationships and all but forgot about my brief, but prodigious admiration towards Atomic Records.
She’s gone now; closed her doors in 2009, and with it a chapter of my life that is just as important as the current chapter I’m attempting to write with The Prudent Groove.
Atomic may not have been my first, but she was arguably the best and, one I will certainly never forget.
RIP Atomic Records.