Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Timbuk3 - 1989-04-22 - Austin City Limits (plus bonus tracks)

Austin City Limits, Austin, TX
TV Broadcast, very good quality
(plus other bonus live tracks)
mp3 @ 256
Custom artwork included

OK, next I want to feature some of my favorite lesser-known or underrated bands. First up is Timbuk3, who I really like, just a great, unique group. Formed around 1985 out of Austin, TX, Timbuk3 was basically the husband-wife duo of Pat and Barbara K. MacDonald, who played guitar (and harmonica and various other instruments) and sang live to pre-recorded bass and drums tracks played on a boombox. Timbuk3's music featured a dark, cynical outlook combined with clever, biting wit and humor set to strong melodic tunes and quirky harmony vocals. I just love their songs, sound, and great feel of their two voices together. Although they had success and a big hit song right off the bat (the iconic 'The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades'), to some degree that initial success may have limited their overall career. For the most part, the biting sarcasm of the song was completely overlooked and it was embraced as a fun party song, and the pop audience wanted more of that kind of song, which just was not what the group was about. With their dark, quirky songs and sound, they should have been heartily embraced by the indie community, but surprisingly were not, maybe because based on their hit, they were apparently dismissed as some lightweight college pop band. But Timbuk3 continued undaunted with their own vision, even resisting adding a drummer and bass player, playing all the instruments themselves through their first three excellent albums (Greetings from Timbuk3, Eden Alley, and Edge of Allegiance, 1986-1989). But with their 4th album, Big Shot in the Dark (1991), they finally did add Wally Ingram and Courtney Audain on bass and drums, which substantially enhanced their overall sound, especially live. I saw them live around that time, where I picked up an excellent self-produced live cassette (no title, date, info, or label) they were selling at their shows (and which I still listen to today). They released an EP and one more album (Looks Like Dark To Me and A Hundred Lovers), as well as a best of collection, before breaking up. They broke up in 1995, as Pat and Barbara grew apart, both personally and musically, and with the dissolution of their marriage came the end of the band. Pat went to Spain for a few years where he continued to make music (although none released in the US), and Barbara also continued with a solo career. Although considered a 'one-hit wonder' in the pop music world, Timbuk3 was a great band that had a great vision, a great sound, and produced several great albums. Unfortunately, there are virtually no bootlegs or unofficial recordings of Timbuk3 available, except for this recording from their Austin City Limits half-show in 1989. Even worse, all of their official albums are now out-of-print. However, their independent live album (same show as on the unlabelled cassette, but now identified as 'Espace Ornano' recorded November 1991 in Paris) is still available on CD from the band's website (see below), and remains the only Timbuk3 music currently available for purchase.
This ACL show, listed as being from 4/22/89 (which probably was the broadcast date, and it most likely was recorded much earler than that, around fall 1988), features a suitably eclectic and quirky setlist, with a couple songs from each of their first 2 albums (including 'Future'), a relatively unknown B-side ('Assholes on Parade', which was editied out of the TV broadcast -for obvious reasons), a song from Pat's earlier group, The Essentials ('Looking For Work'), and a song from the earliest days of Pat and Barbara together ('Will You still Love Me When I'm Dead?'). Since this is a very short half-hour set, I supplemented the show with some tracks that are available on the band's web site, a couple from a Santa Cruz show, and a few sample tracks from the live album (Espace Ornano), featuring the killer and previously unreleased (non-album) track, 'Throw Down Gun'. If you like these, by all means please purchase the full live album from the Timbuk3 website.

Although the group disbanded in 1995, they still maintain an official web site ( and myspace page ( for the band. Pat is now back in his original hometown area of Wisconsin, still playing and making new music. In a fairly recent interview, he said that there were still alot of old Timbuk3 tracks that were never released, and that maybe someday he would go back through those tapes and put them out. Hopefully that will happen soon. Their cynically humorous (or is that humorously cynical?) takes on the issues, absurdities, and injustices of the day are sorely missed.

1 - intro
2 - Dance Fever
3 - Life is Hard
4 - The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
5 - a question
6 - Assholes On Parade (performed, but not included in TV broadcast)
7 - Looking For Work
8 - Sample the Dog
9 - Wheel of Fortune
10 - Will You Still Love Me When I'm Dead?
11 - I Need You
Bonus tracks:
12 - Eden Alley (Santa Cruz, 1989?)
13 - Not Fade Away/Eden Alley reprise (Santa Cruz)
14 - Big Shot in the Dark (Paris, 11/1991)
15 - Throw Down Gun (Paris, 11/1991)
16 - Reckless Driver (Paris, 11/1991)

Bonus tracks obtained from the band's official web site. Paris tracks come from the band's self-produced live album, Espace Ornano, which is available for purchase from the Band's web site:

Link Updated (02/27/19)


Michael said...

You might be interested to know that this ACL show is getting an official release later this year. Keep an eye out.

drivetime said...

Thanks! Nice to find this.
There also might be interest in Pat's new band Purgatory Hill with fellow Wisconsin songwriter Melaniejean.
Pat has added the raw, dirty, bloozy sound of electric cigar box guitar - actually a Lowebow.
Quite unique.... and his boombox is on permanent display at the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame.
Great stuff - check them out.

BillyBlastoff said...

Timbuk3 was in deed a great band. Your comments are insightful and spot on. Thanks for the music and the memories.

RonNasty said...

I have a poor transfer of "Blue Christmas" that I still think is a great song, 30 years after its release. Thanks for another amazing upload.

Necessary Music Productions said...

Here is a link to the Paris show you mentioned in video form. Thanks for all the great shows over the years! Cheers