Certain Songs #1179: The Miss Alans – “Junk”

Album: Ledger
Year: 1996

It’s now been a little over six months since I sat in Scott Oliver’s living room and promised that I would do everything I can to help with getting the Miss Alans music out into the 21st century, though to be honest, Kirk & I had been bugging the entire band for years prior to do it. The problem was that any momentum just got bogged down by the fact that their music had been released on four different labels.

Finally though, they remembered that sometimes in order to get shit done, you just have to say “fuck it” and just get shit done. Like back when they assembled the copies of their cassette, or recorded a live album without a net, or any of a number of studio sessions where they didn’t know who was even going to release the music.

So much has happened in that six months: with the help of Christopher Estep, one of Scott’s partners in crime in the recent Thunderbolt 650 project, they’ve put out digital versions of Smack The Horse, Blusher & Ledger, as well as the first non-cassette release of Bus not to mention a batch of rehearsal tapes packaged as Your Favorite Graveyard Talk, which shows just how many great songs never got a proper recording. Not just “For Right Now,” but “Hollister,” “Society’s Coat,” and “Old House” among others.

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Certain Songs #1178: The Miss Alans – “Sparkler Queen”

Album: Ledger
Year: 1996

So way back — last week? month? year? — when I was writing about “Crushed Impalas,” I mistakenly said that the song’s appearance in Hal Hartley’s Flirt was the only time the Miss Alans music had been used in a film.

That was an error, and as you can imagine, the discovery of that error caused huge a kerfluffle in the Home Office. The result of that kerfluffle was the entire fact-checking department being sacked after a scathing report from the Medialoper Ombudsman, Bud Mann.

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Certain Songs #1177: The Miss Alans – “Ride on Me”

Album: Ledger
Year: 1996

The breakup of the Miss Alans was like a bomb dropped in their midst, scattering the band to the four corners of the country: Scott to West Virginia, Jay to New York, Ron to the Central Coast and Manny to Los Angeles. Anywhere but a Fresno where they weren’t a band anymore.

I doubt that any of this was conscious: they saw opportunities and took them. It’s just that those opportunities were, you know, somewhere else. Which was how Manny found himself working at World Domination Recordings, the label founded by Dave Allen, former bass player for the legendary Gang of Four.

And so the story goes that Manny was listening to the tapes from their last sessions in the office and Dave Allen liked them so much he offered to put them out on his label, despite the fact that the Miss Alans had been broken up for over a year, and of course wouldn’t be touring the record to try to goose sales.

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Certain Songs #1176: The Miss Alans – “Big Sun”

Album: Ledger
Year: 1995

But here’s the thing: near the end of 1994, the Miss Alans had gone into the studio with Tracy Chisholm once again and recorded (at least) a baker’s dozen worth of songs, relatively quickly, as these songs were maybe their most straightforward batch ever.

Despite still being signed to Zoo Entertainment, they could all see the writing on the wall, and like nearly every other recording session in Miss Alans history — the exception being the post-signing session to capture “Victoria” and also produced “Supercharged” — the agenda, conception and execution of the recordings lay fully with the band and their producer.

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Certain Songs #1175: The Miss Alans – “Mag Wheel”

Album: Blusher
Year: 1994

Ron Woods has an unorthodox drum set-up. For one thing, it’s backwards! His hi-hat and snare drum are on the right instead of the left, what even is up with that?!?

In truth, I’ve always assumed that the best thing about being a left-handed drummer is that it makes it impossible for other asshole drummers to just sit down and start playing your drums, as I know — and Ron most certainly knows — I would have done many many times over the years.

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