Fay Wray (No Idea Records)
I think about Loni Anderson with frequence. Call it a childhood thing, call it a semi-sexual thing, call it a Burt Reynolds thing; whatever it is, I'm not alone on this. And yes, this all relates back to erstwhile local punk legends Fay Wray.
It would have been the obvious choice to start a Blasts From the Past column about the band with its most accessible release, I Love Everyone. But I tend to take a more personal angle with these things and none of y'all have complained thus far.
When this self-titled album came out in 1998, Fay Wray was already well down the path of local notoriety thanks to excess and intra-band turmoil. Soon after, I would meet guitarist Rob Coe, who was a beloved educator in the local school system. I remember picking up my buddy Tom Bowker and heading out to the Pinecrest area to pick Rob up who was supposedly house-sitting for a relative.
Though I consumed many a beer that evening, I do remember having some difficulties getting Rob to answer the door and when he did, he was carrying a 12-pack of Coronos. Ever the gentleman, he offered a round and indicated he might like to enjoy a fresh one while riding out to South Miami. When I argued that was an obviously unwise choice, he instead downed his current brew quick and said, with a casual grin, "Let's go."
This was the kind of dude who'd be in a band like Fay Wray, and we mean that in a fun way. A few years later I would also meet drummer George Graquitena when I was booking shows at the Gables Pub. He's another classy dude who's been an active member of South Florida's music community since the '80s with outfits like Cell 63 (where also he stinted with Coe), Torpedo Lucas, Jobbernowl, the Fuckboyz, and currently the Van Orsdels.
While time has tempered facts and hear-says, it's generally understood that for this self-titled disc's incarnation of Fay Wray, singer/guitarist Jeff London was a bit of a rabble-rouser. Still, if ever there was a 12-track album assembled where no filler is to be found, where every second committed to tape is sheer joy, where you know punk rock means something, it's this.
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Think of the mid-'90s punk rock wasteland and pick out Florida contemporaries Radon and Highway 66. Add in the pop sensibilities of Rhythm Collision, the southern isolation of Gomez, and everything that was good of the early (Descendents, ALL-era) SST catalogs and you'll have an idea. Now add a little edge and attitude and maybe you'll understand what's behind the so-called "Gainesville scene" represented by label No Idea. And while this is a No Idea release, it's pure Miami.
This album was recorded by the great Jeremy Dubois at Tapeworm Studios for staggering price tag of "beer and Pollo Tropical," but the result is Black Label and Christy's. Local fave "Lucky Manicotti," the poignant "Father to Son," the still-true "I Think I Hate L.A.," the lovelorn lyricism of "Amanda," and the ever-so-on-motherfucking-point "Mad at the Microwave" are examples of tracks that get heavy repeat on my player.
Originally available as a 10-inch and CD, the vinyl version has gone out of print, while the CD is still available from No Idea for a miserable $2.
Another interesting, personal fact is that some of the artwork in the sleeve is by my old college painting professor John Bailly, who is a local artist of renown and also happens to be the young man flinging himself into a tree on the cover photograph. Ahh, those wanton days of collegiate youth. We'll explore Fay Wray a little more next time but for now, those will be the best damn $2 you've spent in a long while, so get a-clicking!