The Retros-Inner City Rockers - The Retros 1979 LP+CD or CD
2011-BDR Records (BDR #4)
The Retros were arguably the best Punk band in St. Louis during their brief existence. From 1978-1981 they wowed crowds at parties, VFW Halls and bowling alleys with their infectious Punk-Pop anthems. Plus, they opened for the Ramones at the legendary Mississippi Nights club, a coup for any band in the supposedly non-Punk-friendly Midwest.
A couple attempts at recordings were made, but the Retros produced no official releases during their lifespan. In the Spring of 1979, the band was the subject of a final exam for a friend’s studio recording class at Webster University. When the exam was finished, the Retros took advantage of the couple hours of leftover studio time. They ripped through twelve originals in a quick, live-in-the studio type set up. Limited time meant no over-dubs and only a couple retakes. The block of studio time was completely exhausted with the recording, and they didn't even have time for playback. Without access to another 4-track machine, the reel ended up on a shelf in Soundman/Manager, Don Hollenbeck's closet and was nearly forgotten. It would be almost thirty years before these recordings were heard by ANYONE.
The LP includes the entire twelve song session, and the CD adds four bonus, live tracks. The LP is limited to 300 copies in a silk screened cover with a full color insert featuring photos, gig posters and liner notes, and it includes a copy of the CD. The CD format comes in a standard jewel case with alternate art.
1000 CDs manufactured. Two vinyl pressings exist. First is 300 copies with red and black cover art. The second is 200 copies with yellow and black art. There is also a test press edition of 5 copies with alternate art insert for the cover.
The Retros were the much-fabled Punk Pop band that everyone talked about when we started BDR. We knew their soundman Don Hollenbeck, and he passed on a CDR of some 4-track demos. Unfortunately, the tape had been stretched, rendering it unusable, as it had this brain swelling hihg-pitched squeal throughout 90% of the recording. We eventually learned that Don had a studio reel of the band that was recorded at Webster University, and unheard by anyone. Don brought the tape and had Greg from raymilland transfer it, which was the first time it had ever been played. Mario Vielle did the vinyl pre-mastering, but Greg did all of the initial work. The release was well received and the first vinyl pressing of 300 sold out quickly. We ran another 200 LPs, and even those are down to the last few copies at this point. The vinyl comes with a two-sided 8.5" x 11" insert, along with a CD copy, which has pro-printed, slightly different art. We may have not included the CD with the first pressing, actually. Since we had enough leftover CD copies, we included them with the second pressing.
BDR Records discography in release order
MAX LOAD-Max Load LP+CD+DVD
2013-BDR Records (BDR #6)
When you say Belleville, IL, non-locals usually assume it's one of the zillion Chicago suburbs. It's far from it. Just a few miles across the Mississippi from St. Louis, it's another small, river town. In the late '70s, punk barely happened in St. Louis. Except for Max Load, it didn't even get noticed in Belleville. The river provides far more isolation between the states than one may realize. Bitter geographic rivals for no good reason. That didn't stop these guys from making a noise on their side.
Max Load was formed and began playing live shows around Belleville in 1978. They soon were playing in St. Louis as well, but they never would be treated as equals. They were often forced to play first, before much less competent bands, or dead last, when the St. Louis crowd was anxious to get to the after-party. Last often meant playing to an empty room, rather than being the coveted headlining spot. Out shining most of the Missouri bands around at the time, they released a scorching two song 45 ("X-Rod" b/w "Magazine Sex") in 1979 on their own label. It was mostly intended as a calling card to secure gigs, but some copies were sold locally and a few even distributed by Bomp! Records in CA. The band would go on to record studio demos in 1980 at the request of Epic Records and would commit countless songs to tape with their own 4-track recorder. They were also the only punk band in the area to pay attention to and be featured on the short-lived cable access TV show, Street Beat.
Although Max Load started out with a fairly traditional punk sound, by 1981 they started writing more post punk and art punk influenced material. This new direction can be heard on the included 4-track demos. Like so many other bands, they never got that record deal or big break they were hoping for. By late 1982, most members had moved on to new projects and the band was gone by 1983. It would be another ten or so years before their record would be compiled on the Killed By Death bootleg compilation series and they’d get some much deserved recognition outside the area. The 45 is now considered one of the best Midwestern punk singles of the era, and a copy with the picture sleeve is one of the rarest U.S. punk collectibles.
The Max Load release is comprised of all studio recordings from 1979-1983. The X-Rod 45 is included, along with 22 never-before-released 8-track and 4-track demos. The package includes a 14 song LP, a 24 song CD and a DVD that features a 20-song live performance, recorded for cable access TV in 1981. The CD and DVD come with a title card in a protective sleeve that's tucked inside the LP jacket, along with a double sided 11"x17" insert featuring numerous photos, gig posters and extensive liner notes.
1000 copies on black vinyl. 1000 each CD & DVDs manufactured. There is also a test press edition of 20 hand numbered copies with alternate art.
This was our most ambitious release. I personally wanted this to be done immediately, but it proved hard to find the band-leader Terry Jones. I'm no private eye, so my caveman approach took at least a couple years. I personally liked the material so much, that I felt everything the band had should be released. So, we went overboard and did an LP + CD + DVD set. It was very costly to do, and it certainly wasn't our best seller...but I love how it came out. It received rave reviews from many outlets, but I think people were somewhat intimidated by the bulky format. It's the last time I'll do something so elaborate. Then again....do you know of anything worthy? Get in touch!
raymilland-Recordings ’79-’81 LP+CD or CD
2009-BDR Records (BDR #2)
Acid drenched Psych/Art Punk from the bowels of St. Louis. Lemmy-era Hawkwind meets early Bauhaus and then some! Includes their rare 7", a track from an early Sub Pop cassette compilation and unreleased demos. Available as a limited edition package of 500 vinyl copies in a silk screened jacket w/ the CD format in a title-only sleeve or as a stand alone CD in CD wallet packaging with insert.
500 LPs and 1000 CDs, 500 of which were included with the vinyl.
This was actually put together before the Test Patterns CD, but we realized that the concept of the label was to start at ground zero, or the most well known thing from the area...Test Patterns. For this collection, the band hand picked the material from their vast amount of home recordings. It was mastered by Carl Saff. We approached them to release a CD, which is actually a little while before Rerun started getting moving again. Being out of touch with current trends, we didn't realize how much the CD format was on a decline at this point. Rick from the band wanted vinyl, so he paid for the LP pressing, and we paid for the CDs and covers. We're glad Rick insisted on vinyl, as it made for an impressive package. The vinyl has less material than the CD, which is why we included a CD copy with the vinyl issue. Although they only played live six times in their heyday, raymilland played an amazing reunion show to celebrate the release of the collection. The original guitarist flew in from NYC, and it was the first time anybody had seen them perform in over 25 years. Their friends The Welders opened up, sparking the need for that release.
The Philosophic Collage-s/t 7"ep
2012-BDR Records (BDR #7)
According to the original St. Louis punk crowd, the Philosophic Collage and band leader Craig Kurtz (aka Timothy Tyme) were mildly difficult, if not completely off-putting. Their brand of abrasive music and Craig's "genius" schtick was too hard to take. When the band released this EP in 1981, most were confused by the four blasts of Art Punk/Midwestern No Wave, uh...if there really is such a thing as No Wave in the Midwest. It did impress Rough Trade enough to pick it up for distribution, even if the local response was less than enthusiastic.
The band only managed to play a handful of area gigs before nobody wanted to book them. They were far more successful in Chicago. Playing larger gigs to more receptive audiences and even signing on with a manager. Two cassettes were released after the EP, but it was all over by 1982 when Craig split the band up after an attempt to relocate to Chicago had failed.
BDR Records (the St.Louis-only division of Rerun Records) presents a deluxe reissue of this curiosity. 500 copies pressed on thick black vinyl. Housed in a heavy duty glue-pocket sleeve with a double-sided 14"x7" insert featuring vintage 'zine write-ups, ads and reviews, along with new liner notes by Craig Kurtz.
500 copies on black vinyl. There is also a test press edition of 10 hand numbered copies with alternate art.
This project was one I wanted to do, knowing that it probably would be about as popular as it was originally. My wife was on a business trip to Kansas City in 2001 or so. She hit a couple record stores, and called me to ask about this record. It was $10, which seemed like a lot for some reason, but when I heard her read off the St. Louis address, I made sure she bought it. It quickly became a local favorite of mine, even though some I played it for didn't share my enthusiasm. I tracked down the band, and we set about putting it together. Even if it's not the most loved of the BDR releases, I think it's an important example of local music history and I'm proud to have forced it back into the attention of the world.
Dear John-Frustrated Conversation b/w I Don’t Want Her To Know 7”
2011-BDR Records (BDR #5)
St. Louis didn’t have the quite the thriving Power Pop scene as that of other blue-collar Midwestern cities Milwaukee or Champaign, but what little it did have was cut from the same cloth. Dear John was one of the few, and like their counterparts from those more Northern regions, they too worshipped ‘70s guitar-based pop like Big Star, the Shoes and the Raspberries.
The band only lasted a couple years, but they managed to release one regionally acclaimed single in 1981 on their own A.K.A. Records. They broke up the first time before the record was even back from the pressing plant, and even though they would briefly reform a year or so later....Dear John soon called it quits for good.
The single has been a tough find for Power Pop collectors, easily fetching $40-60 on auction sites. We found out why it has been hard to locate, when Robert Kuhlmann of Dear John let us know he found half the vinyl from the original pressing in storage during a visit to his mom's house! They had only printed a small number of sleeves at the time, so we've repackaged the remaining, original vinyl copies in a new sleeve featuring liner notes, gig posters and other ephemera. This re-release is limited to the copies on hand.
250-300 copies of the original vinyl in a new picture sleeve. We also have or had another 50-75 copies that have a visible dish or storage warp. They all play fine but are definitely warpy. The warpy ones were never sold with the best looking/flat copies.
We approached the band about a possible reissue of their self-released 45. As it turns out, the band had a good amount of the original pressing in storage. They made picture sleeves as they went along, so only about 40% or so have the original sleeve. We struck a deal to sell the original vinyl, along with a newly manufactured sleeve. A good chunk of the copies had a storage/dish warp, so we took the flatest ones and sold them with the new sleeve. It was nice to make an original, regional release like this available again at a much more affordable price. We also did a limited run of CDRs that had the full studio session that the 45 came from. It was a six song session, and we made a front insert/tray card and sold them briefly when the 45 came out. The band did a reunion set on the front walk of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis (where Matt is a manager) on Record Store Day in 2011. We had the band sign a handful of copies that were exclusively sold at the store on that day.
V/A-Test Patterns CD
2010-BDR Records (BDR #1)
BDR is proud to bring you a reissue of the classic Test Patterns compilation album; originally released by Jet Lag Magazine's John the Mailman in 1981. Although obscure outside of the area due to a lack of national distribution upon its initial release, the compilation is known to early Punk/Indie record collectors and some clued in music historians. Test Patterns features two songs each by seven independent bands from the St. Louis area: The Felons, The Mopeds, The Strikers, Swift Kick, The Oozkicks, Trained Animal and The Zanti Misfits. The songs range from poppy Punk to Power Pop to hard-edged New Wave, with a couple bands even giving a nod to the 2 Tone revival of the day. Remastered from the original tapes and issued on compact disc for the first time ever! Liner notes by Steve Pick of Jet Lag Magazine and Jason Ross of BDR Records.
1000 CDs manufactured.
The first BDR release was a CD reissue of the 1981 compilation LP of St. Louis independent bands, released by John The Mailman of Jet Lag 'zine fame. Jet Lag was one of the first and certainly the longest running of the area 'zines. John the Mailman and Steve Pick co-edited for many years, until turning it over to other parties much later in its existence. The compilation is of bands that came through with submitting tapes, but it's missing some of the key bands of the time, like Max Load, The Retros, etc. The master tapes were thought to be long lost, so we had Chuck Warner of www.hypedtodeath.com do a restoration from an unplayed vinyl copy. Shortly after the work had been done, we got wind of the tapes existing and in the possession of another person involved with the original production. We tracked down Mort Hill, who was said to have the tapes. Mort wrote for Jet Lag and also helped John through the LP manufacturing process, as he was a rep for his family's local pressing plant. The tapes were transferred and then the audio was remastered by Greg Black of raymilland. The CD sounds far better than the original vinyl, as the tapes were in good shape. I wrote some liner notes in addition to an intro by Steve Pick. Douglas Garfield did the booklet and tray card layout. We added the notes and a couple band photos, along with a reproduction of the band submitted panels that made up the original insert.
The Welders-s/t 7”ep
2010-BDR Records (BDR #3)
Mind blowing all female Punk Pop Glam band that started in 1975. This is their unreleased 4 song EP from 1979, and it's the first official release by the band. Cover stars of the Feb. 2011 Maximum RnR!
Two pressings exist. First is 500 copies on red vinyl, and the second is 500 on black vinyl. Back of sleeve also denotes "SECOND PRESSING" at the bottom. There is also a test press edition of 10 hand numbered copies with alternate art.
This was the most well received of any of the BDR releases, and rightfully so. Had this come out in 1979 as intended, it would be considered a classic of early Midwestern indie records. The band had chops all around, and they could have been huge. The only existing copy of the EP was a well-worn cassette. Greg Black from raymilland saved the day again by restoring the audio from that tape. Rick from raymilland did a brilliant job with the cover and insert. It was a true work of passion, as the bands are very close friends. The EP was an instant smash, and they wound up on the cover of seminal hardcore punk fanzine Maximum Rock n' Roll. The first pressing on red vinyl sold out quickly, and the second pressing on black is pretty much gone at this point. We've been begging the band to let us release a second EP that was studio recorded in 1981, after the band turned towards more of an early Pandoras garagey sound. Crossing our fingers that it'll happen one day.
BDR Records is a partnership between Rerun Records and The Bert Dax Calvalcade of Stars Records. Like Rerun, BDR releases high quality reissues and archival collections by 70s-80s Punk and independent bands, but BDR is reserved only for artists from the St. Louis, MO area.
Bert Dax is run by Matt Harnish, who has released several 7"s and CDs by St. Louis independent artists, including his much-loved almost annual Xmas music compilations. Matt is a jovial man about town, St. Louis music enthusiast and member/leader of many music projects like long-running indie rock band Bunnygrunt, along with numerous other projects...Brown Company, Matt Harnish's Pink Guitar, The Fantasy Four, etc. Bug Matt here: MATT HARNISH'S PINK GUITAR
To purchase available releases: BDR STORE
For more St. Louis music info:
St. Louis Punk/indie history Archive of St. Louis Punk