There’s that famous Eno quote that everyone who bought a copy of the first Velvet Underground record went out and started a band. If that’s the case, then SIMPLY SAUCER is one of the best proof positive examples of that theory. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario and forming in 1973, these early adapters laid down a collection of demos and live recordings that today makes record geeks exasperated and covered in flop sweat.
A band whose performances at the time they existed barely elicited a shrug from the county fair attendees, and the confused, or sometimes angered, high school students these guys performed for. It’s interesting to think that these guys were incorporating these VU influences at a time when Doug Yule was still limping some deputized Velvets through their final live dates to probably an equally nonplussed audience.
Utilizing a bag of influences, that in addition to the VU included early Barrett-era Pink Floyd, the Stooges, and the Pink Fairies, along with a steady diet of Marvel Comics. Singer and guitarist Edgar Breau was also inspired by his day to day rough and tumble existence while living in the band’s practice space surrounded by biker gangs. The results were a tough batch of timeless, escapist, sci-fi tinged proto-punk masterpieces. To compliment Breau’s futuristic tunes was space case, John “Ping Romany” LaPlante, who came fully equipped with a full compliment of various oscillators, primitive synths, and a Theremin. Bassist Kevin Christoff, and drummer Neil DeMerchant (later to be replaced by 15-year-old drummer Tony Cutaia) provided the necessary rhythmic backbone to anchor the group’s sound.
All of which brings us to Cyborgs Revisited. Released in various permutations over the years, it consists of a six-song demo the band cut in the basement of brothers Bob and Daniel Lanois in July of 1974, and a choice selection of live performances that were captured on 2 track reel to reel by brother Bob when the group played a free outdoor concert on the roof of a local shopping mall the following year. Based on the sounds captured during that performance, the group might as well have been dropped on top of that shopping center by an actual alien spacecraft. In The Red Recording’s latest, and most definitive issue of Cyborgs contains the complete live rooftop recording as a separate LP, and features some never before heard jams along with a bonus download of a killer Velvet Underground cover medley of “Sweet Jane/I’m Waiting for the Man.”
To try to single out highlights is difficult given how strong all of the music contained on here is, and you’ll have to choose your own. I think part of the reason why these recordings stand up so well is you can almost feel the joy the band felt while creating these songs that were geared to blow their audience’s minds wide open. Some personal favorites include the cave stomping “Electro Rock” which slowly spins out into a freeform freak out before pulling itself back together, and the trance-inducing, instrumental “Mole Machine.” It’s also hard to argue with the raw-sounding live immediacy of “Here Comes The Cyborgs (Part 2).” Even the previously unaired songs offer some audio riches. “I Can Change My Mind” adds a little bit of glam to the groups’ repertoire, while “Rock ‘n’ Roll The Brain Cells” sounds like what would have went down if Iggy Pop fronted The Soft Boys.
Some forty years on, it seems like the formerly “doomed to obscurity” band has seen a reversal of their fortunes. Reforming in 2006, and riding a wave of releases, reissues, and documentation, the group has finally begun playing to the appreciative audiences they always deserved. Bottom line, Simply Saucer’s Cyborgs Revisited is essential listening for anyone who prides themselves on having listening habits left of center. What are you waiting for? Turns out that, the future was then.
Simply Saucer – Official Webspace