As I was watching the Grammys last night, I got to thinking about how out of touch that group of voters have been over the years. For instance, arguably the greatest band ever, The Beatles, only one Grammy for Album of the Year, when they won in 1968 for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Still, that means Rubber Soul, Revolver, The Beatles and Abbey Road, all considered to be part of the twenty greatest albums of all-time, never won the award. Neither did The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, Purple Rain by Prince & the Revolution, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run and Born in the USA, Nevermind by Nirvana nor London Calling by the Clash. Instead, we got albums like Christopher Cross’ self-titled debut album or Blood, Sweat & Tears’ eponymous first album. Nearly every year, I turn off the TV, upset by which album wins, or at least stunned by what just occurred. This year was status quo as Bruno Mars won the big three awards (Song of the Year [for the songwriter(s)], Record of the Year and Album of the Year). The bottom line, in my opinion, is that the Grammys are really are not an effective showing of what happened in music during a particular year.
Every year, I say the same things. So, enough of the out-of-touch Grammy voters. I guess my post-Grammys blasé stems from the lack of spectacular performances. To me, only Kesha and Kendrick Lamar gave transcendent performances. The rest were just okay. Oh well, these shows cannot all be winners.
What I did do yesterday has affected me today. My back pain level is nearly off the chart today, all because I met up with a fraternity brother of mine and his wife to go to a record show. I was hurting so bad, that I really didn’t get into flipping through records all that much. However, I did make two terrific finds. First, I found a 1984 US copy of The Smiths’ eponymous debut album. It seems that The Smiths’ albums from the Eighties have become very difficult to find, but, lo and behold, I found one and now it is part of my collection. My other “best buy” find was a copy of the debut album of a power pop band called The Late Show. The album, which came out in 1980, is highly sought in the power pop community and is called Portable Pop. I got such a fantastic deal on it that I really don’t want to rub it in the seller’s face in case he reads this.
So, besides the quality of The Late Show’s music, why is this album so collectible? Well, this band was formed in 1972 when four students from North Central High School in Indianapolis got together to play some music that mixed their shared love of The Beatles and The Who circa 1965. After gigging around the Midwest for years, their music got the ear of legendary rock album producer Jack Douglas, who had produced albums by Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, to list but two artists. Long story short, even though they had this major endorsement, The Late Show turned down several big labels’ offers thinking there was a better offer just around the corner. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Finally, in 1980, with the band signed to a tiny Indianapolis record label called Rave Records and commenced recording in Indy’s own Soundsmith Studio. At the time, The Late Show consisted of Don Main (lead vocals and bass), Rick Clayton (lead vocals and guitar), Mark Moran (lead guitar and vocals) and Chris Pyle (drums), and the band’s sound was reminiscent of the Raspberries, The Knack and The Romantics. Unfortunately, tThe album was released and fell flat with a thud. The band struggled throughout the Eighties to no avail. Quietly, the band disbanded in 1991.
Then, in 2007, something of a Late Show resurgence occurred when, first, John M. Borack, in his brilliant power pop overview entitled Shake Some Action was released. In the book, Borack listed and gave little one- or two-paragraph reviews of his Top 200 Power Pop Albums of All-Time. Borack ranked The Late Show’s Portable Pop at number 46 on his list. Then, a tiny independent label called Trashy Creature Records, picked up the album and band and re-released Portable Pop on CD and cassette tape for the first time ever. Shortly thereafter, Goldmine magazine place Portable Pop in its Top 50 US Power Pop Albums of All-Time List at number 23.
Once the album was released on CD in 2007, The Late Show was being added to the playlists of over 70 college rock and independent radio stations across the country. That action convinced The Late Show to reunite and get back on the road, which they continue to this day, mainly around Indiana. There has been a rumor of a second album, one that was recorded and shelved back during the Eighties, being remastered and released. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, this has not happened, which is unfortunate.
So, that is the history of The Late Show, one of those obscure bands who released an album of great music that went unknown to the public for 27 years before the band caught on with an influential writer or two only to receive the critical endorsement over two-and-a-half decades later. At least, The Late Show is being heard now.
And, I finally have this brilliant album in my collection. I am so stoked!