Friday, August 8, 2008

The Individuals - Fields (1982) / Aquamarine (1981)

Back to the Northern Hemisphere for a bit with the Individuals, veterans of the '80s Hoboken scene which included the previously posted--and fantastic--Human Switchboard; their entire back-catalogue was recently reissued on CD, a welcome end which has bizzarely eluded some of the greater luminaries of the scene. The Feelies, I'm looking at you. Still, the Individuals' music remains as hooky and clever as ever; it's definitely worth a revist for fans of intelligent pop music. - Ariel

In the early '80s, when Hoboken, NJ, was briefly the capital of the underground rock universe, the Individuals were one of the most important bands on the scene, and while they didn't last long enough to have the same impact as such peers as the dB's, the Bongos, and the Feelies, the group's music was bracing and memorable stuff, at once a clear product of its time and place but revealing a clearly distinct approach that allowed them to stand out from the crowd. Jon Klages and Glenn Morrow's guitars careened back and forth between kinetic rhythm patterns and leads that suggested Roger McGuinn trapped within a pinball machine, while bassist Janet Wygal and drummer Doug Wygal provided a propulsive bottom end that was curiously funky but bracingly arch and intelligent. The Individuals released an album and a five-song EP during their 1979-1983 lifespan, and both appear in their entirety on this CD from Bar/None Records, along with four bonus tunes.
Released in 1981, the Aquamarine EP is clever and tuneful stuff, but it's dwarfed by 1982's Fields, the band's one and only LP, which benefits from stronger songwriting and a more sympathetic studio partner in Mitch Easter, who engineered the sessions at his Drive-In Studio in Athens, GA, not long before R.E.M. would help usurp Hoboken's cool quotient and move it down South. This disc stacks the deck a bit by leading off with Fields, leaving the second half of the disc seeming slightly pale by comparison, but even the relatively weaker material is well worth hearing, and longtime fans will be glad to know a previously unreleased dance mix of "Dancing with My Eighty Wives" makes the cut, as does both sides of the "Our World" 7" and the hidden track from Aquamarine. These 21 tracks are a reminder of an important and innovative rock scene that gave East Coast music a much-needed shot in the arm, and remains challenging, invigorating, and fun stuff more than a quarter-century on.

[Mark Deming,]



planckzoo said...

A recent village voice article about the Individuals. I saw them a couple of times in the early 80s,they were a good day.

planckzoo said...

opps, here is the link to the village voice article

Ariel said...

Thanks for the article, Planckzoo.

Seamus said...

Thank you so much for this, I just recently heard "Dancing With My Eighty Wives" for the first time and I've been trying to find more. Great blog! said...

It can't work in actual fact, that's what I think.