Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Vulgar Boatmen - 1989 - You and Your Sister

The Vulgar Boatmen
1989 - You and Your Sister

vinyl rip, very good quality
mp3 @ 320 kbps

OK, first, sorry for the delay in posting. I was away for awhile and didn't get a chance to post. But what I have for you today is well worth the wait. Here we have, not only the culmination of the Gainesville Music connection, but one of the all-time great, classic roots-rock albums, that you've probably never heard of. For now, finally, we come to The Vulgar Boatmen, a legendary group, that somehow never became famous, but certainly should have. OK, first, their story is not one of the typical rock band. Initially, the group was started by Walter Salas-Humara and John Eder in 1982 at the University of Florida, and they made quite a splash locally at the time with an edgy mix of new wave, roots-rock, and humor, and issued a couple of independent cassette-only releases over the next couple years. One of the members added during this time was a young English professor (actually Film Studies) at the the University by the name of Robert Ray. By 1984 or so, Salas-Humara and some of the original members had graduated and were moving on (Salas-Humara went on to form The Silos, another very good, underrated band that are worth checking out), leaving The boatmen primarily in the hands of Robert Ray. Now, prior to this, Robert Ray had met Dale Lawrence, then a student at Indiana University (and who had been in the proto-punk band, The Gizmos), and they had formed a songwriting and performing partnership. After Ray moved to Florida, they continued to collaborate with each other by sending cassette tapes back and forth, working out songs together. Robert would then play the songs with his band, The Vulgar Boatmen in and around Gainesville, and Dale would play them with his band at the time, Right to Left, in Indianapolis. Now, this is when the sound and unique style of The Vulgar Boatmen really came together, in the mid-eighties. The band was becoming a local legend in Gainesville, even though they only performed very ocasionally, usually on campus or at special events just a few shows a year. Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, Dale also renamed his band The Vulgar Boatmen, so now there were two different bands, playing the same songs, both as The Vulgar Boatmen (Florida and Indiana branches). Although their local fame grew, Ray still had his faculty position, and could not tour (and had no interest in touring), so the Indiana version of the band became the touring version of the band, playing throughout the Midwest, and eventually more wide-reaching places. By 1989, The band released their first record (vinyl-only), You and Your Sister, on an independent label. The recording band was predominantly the Florida band, with Dale Lawrence added. Thus, The Gainesville Boatmen became known more as the recording band, and the Indiana band was the touring band. Unless you were in the Gainesville area at the time, you probably never had the opportunity to hear the Gainesville band (but they were great live!). So, if you've heard of the band at all, or saw them ,it was probably the Indiana version. You and Your Sister received much notoriety and acclaim from just about everyone who heard it (which was still very limited), but with Ray not touring, and the unusual nature of the band, they didn't really go anywhere. But Ray and Dale continued to work together, writing songs, and cultivating the style of the band. By 1992, they released their first CD, Please Panic, which many thought was even better than You and Your Sister. But again, they received minimal national recognition. They continued on in this way for a few more years, just playing a few highly anticipated shows a year in Gainesville, but their legend growing. In 1995, they signed with Warner Brothers to release an album worldwide, but things went wrong, and their next album, Opposite Sex, was only released in Europe and the UK. Although the album received acclaim in the UK, and was planned for a US release, management upheavals at the label resulted in no US release, and them getting dropped from the label completely. This was about it for the band at this point, with members moving on to other things (They already had numerous different lineups over the years). So, things were somewhat dormant then, their albums were out of print (Opposite Sex has still never been released in the US), and that was that. However, even with their music unavailable, those who were fans, continued to build the reputation of the band (and Robert and Dale continued as much as they could). Then in 2003, they released a compilation album of highlights from their previous albums, called Wide Awake, featuring remixed and remastered tracks. Dale again set out touring with his version of the band. But still, no breakthrough. In recent years, their music has become more available, with You and Your Sister finally becoming available on CD, and their album tracks available on Amazon and Itunes (as mp3s). But the important thing is, regardless of their history and story, that the music is great, classic stuff. And it is remarkably timeless. It could have been made in any decade over the past 50 years, yet still sounds contemporary. Their sound has many influences, yet has its own distinctive style. You can definitely hear the influences of other early eighties bands like REM, The Feelies, the dB's, but also classic sounds of the Velvet Underground, Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers. They have a great natural style and sound, laidback, but with tension, with very sparse and simple, but effective, arrangements (and great melodies and hooks), and has also sometimes been referred to as roots-pop. Their style and music also fits right in with the current trend of roots-oriented music by bands like Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes,and others, as well as groups like Uncle Tupelo and, of course, Wilco. These guys were alt-country before that category existed. Of course, to me, they have the epitome of what I think of as 'The Gainesville Sound' (sorry Indiana, who claim them also, but to me this is pure Gainesville), and you can also even hear some Tom Petty in there somewhere.
So, today I am presenting what I consider to be their best album (although many others prefer Please Panic), You and Your Sister. Now, just for this one time, I am violating my rule of not presenting any commercially available music, because this music is not very widely available, and, as I see it, more people need to hear and be aware of this music before they will consider buying it. So, for a limited time, I am making this album available here, to check out. I think you will not only like it, but then will check out, and possibly buy their other available music. So, I hope this is alright with the band, but I really see it as an opportunity for more to experience and be aware of this great band. To me, this is just one of those classic, seminal albums that everyone should have and enjoy. So, I urge you all, if you've ever liked or appreciated the music I've posted here, or agreed with anything I've had to say about music, then you must get this and really listen to it closely. I am confident that if you like any of the music here, or any of the influences listed, then you will like this band. And perhaps will seek out their other music. If you really listen to it, I know that the music will stick with you long after the album is done, and you will find yourself humming and singing the refrains throughout the day. OK, as you can tell, this is a special album for me. Now, enough talk, please check out one of the greatest bands you've never heard of, The Vulgar Boatmen.

01.  Mary Jane
02.  You And Your Sister
03.  Margaret Says
04.  Katie
05.  Drive Somewhere
06.  Change The World All Around
07.  Fallen Down
08.  Hold Me Tight
09.  Cry Real Tears
10.  Drink More Coffee
11.  The Street Where You Live

The Vulgar Boatmen (1989)
Jim Bays
Carey Crane
Michael Derry
Dale Lawrence
Robert Ray

Note: When re-issued on CD, an additional track 'Decision By The Airport' was added (after 'Drive Somewhere'). But, since this is the original 1989 vinyl release version, that track is not included here.

Unfortunately, download of this album no longer available (depositfiles received copyright infringement complaint). Please seek out Vulgar Boatmen releases where available elsewhere. Here is link to Vulgar Boatmen music available through Amazon.com: Amazon.com link - Vulgar Boatmen
By all means, Please purchase the music of this great, neglected band.

Some live shows available:
I mentioned this in the comments, but wanted to post it here also.
Although I do not know of any live recordings of the Gainesville branch of the band, there are several live shows from the Indiana branch of the group (from 1990-2007) that are available through the Indiana band website Musical Family Tree here: http://www.musicalfamilytree.com/band/the_vulgar_boatmen

Here they also have a recent blog entry indicating that the band is still performing (June 2012), with a brief history, etc: http://www.musicalfamilytree.net/profiles/blogs/indiana-music-archive-the-vulgar-boatmen
so check that out too. Thanks.


La Piazza Gancio said...

How truly and eternally nifty a record this is.

bglobe313 said...


A great, great, great band. It's a pleasure when you find one of these cult bands and they are as good, if not better, than the rep!

If you (or your readers) have any live/demo stuff, I would love to hear it. Gainesville live would be especially good, because the stuff I have been able to find is all Indiana.


It will be interesting to hear to what extent this is mixed different from the CD.


BBKron said...

Thanks for your input, bglobe, and glad you are a fan of the band.

I also would love to find some live shows from the Gainesville band, but unfortunately, I just don't know of any recordings. Although there must be some out there, they are probably only known by a select few from Gainesville (I left Gainesville long ago, and don't have any contacts there anymore), but hopefully some will surface. Meanwhile, several live shows from the Indiana branch of the group (from 1990-2007) are available through the Indiana band website Musical Family Tree here: http://www.musicalfamilytree.com/band/the_vulgar_boatmen

they also have a recent blog entry indicating that the band is still performing, with a brief history, etc: http://www.musicalfamilytree.net/profiles/blogs/indiana-music-archive-the-vulgar-boatmen

bglobe313 said...


Thanks for the tips on more Vulgar Boatmen stuff. I had already found that (maybe through the articles that Mike Whybark (? sp) had up at one time. In any case, any fan should definitely give that a look.

I finally got Women and Boatmen in a trade a few years back, and now I see you have that up to.

Love the band. But I still haven't seen the documentary.

Some good stuff on YouTube, too.

Great site!


Narrow Dog said...

For those who wish to hear this and more. Check out youtube.