Either way, I'm really glad I bought the CD. It was and remains a fantastic album. Its certainly in my top 5 or so albums that cemented my interest in Americana music. The disc still rotates through my truck CD player and iPod earbuds with a high degree of regularity. One of my favorite lyrics - from all music - is from I'm Over You from the album:
Today I'm gonna beRCA ended its relationship with The Silos after only "the one with the bird on the cover" release. Long since out-of-print, I consider myself fortunate to have two copies of the sho-nuff, official release. Once I really started digging "The Bird" CD, I wanted more. I sought out their first release Cuba and found it at the now-gone Tower Records store near George Washington University in Washington, DC. I have no idea why I remember that bit of trivia.
Driving down Highway 441 with the windows down
A beer in one hand, the radio blasting
My old needs I won't recognize
I'm over you
The sound of these first two CDs is just fantastic in my opinion - a balance of electric and acoustic, of drawn-out bluesy ballads vs. drum-thumping and power chords, of concise yet often complex lyrics.
The success came from a collaboration between Walter Salas-Humara and Bob Rupe. Following the RCA "Bird" release, however, the band's members and sound changed significantly. Rupe and most of the rest of the band moved on. Salas-Humara replaced them with new musicians (and has done so many times since), and has tweaked the sound of the band a bit with each subsequent release.
I've continued to purchase every Silos CD, a couple of Walter's solo and side project discs, and material by other bands produced by Walter. All good stuff in their own right, but those first two CDs are still my favorite releases even after all these years.
It took the better part of two decades, many band members, different musical and lyrical styles, and six or seven releases before I finally got to see The Silos live. I've since seen them twice more. Not only have live shows been rare for me, but getting my hands on quality boots has been equally challenging.
But as Jason & The Scorchers sing, good things come to those who wait. Recently, my mailbox welcomed an unexpected surprise - a 3 CD set of soundboard recordings of The Silos titled Flipping The Bird.
The CDs are a compilation of live recordings from multiple tour dates in 1990 as the band supported "The Bird". They were sent by a fellow fan of the band in the hopes I could find a way to share the tunes.
I'm particularly excited because the compilation includes a few tracks recorded at Nashville's iconic Exit/In - right here in my own backyard. Sadly, I didn't make the show back in the day - but hey at least Nashville made it to the final press!
The CDs were accompanied by "liner notes" written by the taper, Joe Chinnici, who was the sound man for The Silos during the tour. Here are excerpts from Joe's notes he compiled in 2000.
...Roughly 11 years ago (1989)...I was working in a local recording studio on Long Island in New York...Then along comes a band via the studio owners connection. It was "The Silos". A band that was on the verge of being signed to RCA Records, but needed to record some final demos. I had a blast, but thought nothing of it, as every band I worked with was "on the verge". Well, a year later they got signed, recorded a record, and asked me to go on tour with them as their Sound Man.Perhaps without much surprise, many of the songs included in the set list in 1990 remain staples of set lists today for the band - despite the myriad of artists who have shared the stage with Walter since then.
I had never done live sound before, but felt up to the challenge and needed a break from the recording studio thing, so I accepted. It was a two month whirlwind tour, but it was a blast. For the most part everything is a positive memory. And even the things that were not, now just seem funny, not bad...
...here it was 10 years later... so I decided to go through my recordings from the tour, and cherry pick the best performances. Keep in mind, this was a very tedious task, as I had the entire tour recorded on cassette...plus a dozen shows prior to the actual tour of 1990...Plus the tapes are 10 years old. I was surprised at how well they held up. I wanted to compile the best versions of each and every song. This does not necessarily mean that these are the most flawless versions. I had to take the performance, energy, sonic quality, and attitude into consideration, not to mention that some of these songs were only performed on tape once, so I had to go with what I had...
Okay, so now it was time to come up with a title for this compilation. I began thinking about the RCA album with "The Bird" on the cover...Although the songs were great, the true essence of the band was lost in the translation. It was kind of sterile. I suddenly realized just how much these live performances captured the sound of the band. They were so raw, tight and powerful in person, they showed their flip-side. Hence the title "Flipping The Bird".
Now I realize that Walter has carried on "The Silos" name. I've heard much of the later material, and must admit that some of it is really good. However, in my eyes, "The Silos" was, is and always will be Bob, Walter, Brian and Graham, with me behind the board of course. No other line up, combination, or song list will ever add up to what was captured on this tour. It was truly magical... ~ Joe Chinnici
Disc 1Tennessee Fire (1)
Caroline (2) (MP3)
She Lives Up The Street (1)
Shine It Down
For Always (1)
Commodore Peter (2)
Take My Country Back (2)
(We'll Go) Out of Town (2)
Start The Clock (sadly, missing this track)
You And Your Sister (3)
Let's Work Together
Only Story I Tell (2)
Now That I've Lost You
I'm Over You (2)
Anyway You Choose Me (2)
Just This Morning (1)
Going Round (1)
Heart & Soul
Memories (1) (MP3)
Picture Of Helen (2)
Porque No (2)
How's The Road
Get Back My Name (1)
Honky Tonk Man (Johnny Horton cover)
It's Alright (1)
T-Bone (Neil Young cover)
All Falls Away (1) (MP3)
Don't Talk That Way (2)
Here's To You (2)
A Few Hundred Thank You's
Maybe Everything (1)
One After 909 (Lennon-McCartney)
Mary's Getting Married (1)
(1) from Cuba
(2) from The Silos / "Bird"
(3) from the Vulgar Boatmen's 1989 You and Your Sister release. WSH was in the band pre-Silos and produced their Y&YS album. Walter sold me the VB tape via a snail-mail and personal check transaction. I've never heard this song live until now.
If you are a big fan of The Silos, you should really enjoy these rare tracks. If you are a casual fan or just a noob, download the songs - you won't regret it.
And if you are a hard-core, "trekkie type" fan of the band, perhaps you've already got these recordings. If so, could you help me by providing a copy of the missing track from disc 1, Start The Clock? You can e-mail me at the address on my Blogger User Profile page.
Download here (via MegaUpload)
Edited 2010-07-14: The web. Man, what a wonderful thing. What a cool thing to (1) have have someone read what I've typed and help me with a correction and (2) have a reader who helped me by providing the missing track - all within a couple of days of posting this!
First, the correction - so obvious, yet I missed it. I stated Cuba was The Silos' first release and "The Bird" was their second. WRONG! The band's debut release was titled About Her Steps. I knew this and simply forgot it.
Second, the missing track. Its been found! No milk carton destiny for Start The Clock. Listen/download the song here.
Edited 2012-05-07: Thanks to the raid on MegaUpload and the seizure of all its files, the original link to these songs is no longer available. But, have no fear, Underdog is here ... or something like that. I've up'd the tracks elsewhere. The new location includes all the tracks including Start The Clock. Enjoy.
Download here (zip of MP3s, art and track list)