Release date: 4/20/2020
Record release party 5/2/2020, Benders Bar & Grill, San Francisco
DIG/CD limited edition
Available for preorder now
In addition to their frequent and raucous live performances at clubs in the Bay Area, it is this first recording (1988), made at Hyde Street Studio with Sandy Pearlman and Blue Oyster Cult's recording engineer, Paul "Dr. Blades" Mandl, that cemented interest in MCM and the Monster. Here are 10 infectiously hooky, puerile, distinctly not-politically-correct-at-all, hard rock/hip-hop numbers that provide a very clear window into the core of the San Francisco music scene at the time. Until now, these recordings have never been released. These songs were, however, massively popular via the #1 college radio station in the country at the time, KUSF, San Francisco. There they received heavy airplay (on 4-track tape cartridge), for years. Nearly all of KUSF's 32 new music programming DJ staff from 1988 to 1993 played all 10 of these songs consistently on their weekly radio shows. All hip office and retail businesses in town played KUSF during work hours. KALX, UC Berkeley were also supporters.
During the late 80s and early 90s, MCM and the Monster were arguably San Francisco's most popular local band. It has been said that they are the greatest bar band ever. MCM's legendary performances created an irresistible party atmosphere and their audiences were often super enthusiastic. It's said The Beastie Boys were visibly more than a little bit apprehensive, perhaps even intimidated, about following them when MCM opened for their idols in San Francisco (1988). I believe the shouting and demand that MCM do another encore was overwhelming. Let's just say that MCM and their perhaps drunk fans more than warmed up the place.
"That's the story, not a fable it's a fact/You should never have The Monster as your opening act/We'll rock the house and make you look like fools/That's lesson one in the book of rules/Rock!". They were beloved rogues.
MCM and the Monster should have been huge, however, they did not behave. At all. They opted to dis those in the music biz establishment who might show them interest at nearly every step. They were more focused on living their authentic rock star dreams, which they of course often did to excess. Excess beer and girls mostly.
They didn't take their local San Francisco Bay Area popularity too seriously either and therefore their recorded output came out a bit after the curve, without capturing the strength of the band live, and on the Dutch East India label. There was serious major label interest at the time, from Warner for one, however, it was self-sabotaged always. According to their manager at the time Randy Kaye, Slash Records was very interested but the band said,“We can do better then Faith No More”. Their behavior also pissed off the Bill Graham Presents booking person enough to get them banned from playing The Fillmore, or any other BGP venue. A meeting with the band was called. The bar was not locked down...
In 2017, Darla Records was lucky enough to expedite digital reissues of MCM's two out-of-print studio albums Collective Emotional Problems (1993) and Convertible Turtle (1996). The Hyde Street Studios Recordings (1988), however, are superior both in performance and recording quality to the two (later) albums. Due to their heavy airplay, these Hyde Street Studios Recordings are the best known to many core fans. They are all MCM's best recorded performance *and* best songs - oddly some never even released as re-records on the two albums. Except for a handful of fans in possession of the promo TDK cassettes, they haven't even been heard in decades.
Unfortunately, the master tapes are lost. They were last known to be stored at Hyde Street Studios. It is said the disappearance of the master reels may be attributed to Sandy Pearlman, who is known to have removed all masters associated with him from Hyde Street Studios. We have confirmed this via Paul Mandl. Where the master reels are, however, is a mystery.
We sourced audio for Hyde Street Studio Recordings from TDK hi bias cassette originally provided by the band's management in the late 1980s. I acquired the cassette at the time either as KUSF staff member or I-Beam booking assistant. I cannot recall how. I can, however, absolutely say I did intentionally save it in a metal ice chest in a climate controlled environment for decades. I probably played it less than five times. Turns out that was a good thing because it was in slightly better condition than another copy provided by another KUSF alum. I knew it was special, but I never guessed I would have the opportunity to release it.
The cassette audio was mastered by Mark Allen Miller, Sonelab, Easthampton, MA for this release. We found there was little we could do to improve the audio as the recording quality leaves no room for improvement. We did make it louder to be in line with contemporary and expected volume level. The only negatives are the slightly "duffy" sound of the cassette format, although best quality hi bias, and that the transfer was a little "hot", which added just a bit of distortion to the bass. These issues are hardly noticeable now, if at all. We continue to search for the original master reels. Who has them?
MCM's Monster mobile was an icon around town. See photo: Hector Penalosa at the wheel, Robert Lopez aka El Vez standing (Hector and Robert formerly of The Zeros) and the lovely Elvettes in back, San Francisco (1988).
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