Here is great news for fans of Midwestern underground rock music: A set of releases from Cleveland's Smog Veil label that looks pretty groovy. If you own a record by the Numbers Band, Mirrors, or Electric Eels, then all of these ought to interest you.
The first three will be:
X__X , Albert Ayler’s Ghosts Live at the Yellow Ghetto (2014-2015)
Robert Bensick Band, French Pictures In London (1975)
Mr. Stress Blues Band, Live At the Brick Cottage 1972 – 1973
Aaaaaaaaand, here is the press release:
Smog Veil Records announces a new series of archival and newly recorded material to be released individually and as bundled specials, called Platters du Cuyahoga, Series 1. The series will highlight and celebrate Cleveland's long running and rich history of challenging and often bombastic music. Smog Veil Records label founder, Frank Mauceri explains "While I have maintained for a long time that Cleveland has no singular sound stylistically, it does have a unique attitude which mixes sarcasm, boldness, and ego, which is a very powerful combination."
The three releases of Series 1 are: (1) X__X : Albert Ayler’s Ghosts Live at the Yellow Ghetto (November 20, 2015 release date); (2) Robert Bensick Band: French Pictures In London (1975); (3) Mr. Stress Blues Band: Live At the Brick Cottage 1972 – 1973. All the releases will be formatted on vinyl as well as CD and download/streaming. A hallmark of the series will be that each release contains extensive liner notes, all carefully crafted and researched. Byron Coley (Forced Exposure, NY Rocker, Boston Rock, Spin, Arthur magazine column with Thurston Moore) penned the liner notes for X__X and Nick Blakey (The Boston Phoenix, EQ, Chunklet, Your Flesh, The Peter Laughner Archive) wrote the liners for the Robert Bensick and Mr. Stress releases.
Mauceri elucidates upon the name of the series and the logo, stating "I named the series in such a way that it would create a sense of place (the Cuyahoga River being the river that bisects the city, and along with Lake Erie, is the most recognizable geographic feature of the city—important because I think geography and architecture has an influence upon artistic expression in Cleveland), and also a bit of an exotic sense as if to say Cleveland is some special far away place evolving music on its own, away from the influence of New York and Los Angeles (and we can debate—does the sound of the Cleveland bands contain an influence, especially from New York, or the other away around).
The logo features Terminal Tower, the most iconic architectural landmark of Cleveland. It is essentially the monolith that all Clevelanders know, steeped in history. As such, I think it is representative of the series as each entry in the series carries a sense of Cleveland history."
Although only the band X__X will play material from their album live in concert, all of the releases have members who can speak about these never before released albums. For X__X interviews can be arranged with John D Morton (electric eels, The Styrenes) and Craig Willis Bell (Rocket From The Tombs, Mirrors, Saucers). Robert Bensick (Hy Maya, Berlin West) still creates music and is available for interviews as are Scott Krauss (Pere Ubu, Home & Garden), Michael Hronek and Cynthia Black, who all perform on French Pictures In London. Though sadly Bill Miller (Mr. Stress) recently passed away, other members of the band are available to discuss Live At the Brick Cottage 1972 – 1973, including Mike Sands, Kenny Ruscitto, Pete Sinks and Chuck Drazdik. Nick Blakey is also available to discuss the research that went into the Robert Bensick Band and Mr. Stress Blues Band releases.
The primary focus of the Platters du Cuyahoga Series is to create top quality archival releases mixed with new recordings from bands that have a connection to or an affinity with Northeastern Ohio. Smog Veil Records plans another entry in the series for 2016. It will likely contain three previously unreleased gems from Cleveland's storied musical past.