R.E.M. won the mainstream, but there were many brilliant bands kicking around the Southeast during the eighties. Some have become legends, others never made it out of the kudzu belt, but they are all worth a listen.
I’m never going to work all of the wonderful eighties Southern bands into stories — too much greatness, too little time.
“White Lies,” Jason and the Scorchers. Every local band covered this cut, and it always sounded great. Jason Ringenberg may hail from Illinois, but nothing says Spartanburg’s Dawg Gone circa 1985 like “White Lies.”
“Waters Part,” Let’s Active. Band leader Mitch Easter was as responsible as anyone for R.E.M.’s early sound.
“Fun To Be Happy,” Love Tractor. Athens, Georgia favorites.
“Frog Went A Courtin’ ,” The Flat Duo Jets. Dex and Crow could tear up a show, uh huh, uh huh.
“Beep Beep,” Pylon. More Athens favorites.
“News For You,” Matthew Knights Williams. I wish I had some vintage footage of Matthew. In the mid-eighties he was the epicenter of the Spartanburg music scene. Matthew was the guy always on the brink of making it but just never got there. I bet he has a great story to tell. Anyway, I’m glad to see he’s still around.
“Leave My Heart,” The Accelerators. My favorite band of the time. Accelerators shows were nothing but fun. This footage is from an earlier incarnation than “my” Accelerators, but front man Gerald Duncan remained through all of the line-ups.
“She Sheila,” The Producers. This Atlanta band laid down some of the tastiest power pop hooks this side of Cheap Trick and Big Star. They should’ve been as huge everywhere as they were in the Southeast.
Don’t be shy — tell me about your favorite regional scene, no matter when or where. I’m listening.
Oh, I don’t know where to begin. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were local, the Germs, “X” – — to be fair, I was 17 years old and lived on a small street right above the Whiskey on Sunset, so my list is too long. I remember some band who’s frontman just kind of howled off-key and randomly hit a block he held in his hand. I didn’t get it, but everybody thought they were the shit. What were their names? Damn, now it’s going to bug me all night.
The Mystic Nights of the Oingo Boingo, Black Flag, Fear, Circle Jerks, The Dickies, the Go-Go’s……you can probably fill in the rest for me, right?
Tomas just stepped in and saved the night. Pere Ubu. Turns out they were not local, but the were around my clubs way too much. Could not stand them.
I wanted to be in the middle of that scene so much. Jealous? Yes, yes I am.