The suburban wasteland of Downers Grove, Illinois spawned the band Reaction Formation in the early 1980s, and they eventually became an often-gigged & sometimes-touring juggernaut of youthful free energy. Tuneage ranged from classic Midwestern jangle-pop & indie rock; they were “pop” enough to also appeal to the mid-1980s Chicago Mod scene (Green, The Slugs, 007, I-Spy, The Dig), which was documented very well in the Chicago Reader recently. Guitarist Jim “McGuinn” Slusarek became a national powerhouse in alternative radio (he now resides as Program Director for Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current) & singer Steve Timble became publisher of Time Out Chicago (now at The Wall Street Journal). I remember spending lots of great times with these guys, whether they were opening for Trip Shakespeare in Minneapolis, playing Mod Night at The West End in Chicago, or just partying in Champaign (their eventual home base during college years), they knew how to have a good time.
Here is three tracks from two cassettes; coincidentally they are all songs that became a-sides of their 7″ singles, but using different recordings. Galesburg Bound was recorded at House of Chin’s in Champaign, November 7, 1987.
Looking at You
Thanks to Jim McGuinn for granting me permission to post these here.
Here is a home demo of a song that Jim did with a drum machine, not really RF as a band, but great nonetheless:
Great power-pop band that played the Midwest a few times. The guys in It Figures grew up in the small hamlet that produced Aerosmith- Somersworth, New Hampshire. I once saw ’em play a gig with the Chicago band Green in Rockford, Illinois; it was one of the funnest nights I’ve ever had. Here is their six-song demo from almost 25 years ago, thanks to Rick Twombly for allowing me to post this for you to enjoy.
In the Pages
Oh, what the heck, I’ll even include both sides of their first record, a 7″ single from 1985:
My relationship with Ed Ackerson allowed me the necessary motivation fuel to REALLY get into music as an occupation/full-time obsession. Ed was the first person who impressed me on how much could be done with some simple recording equipment, in his case, a Fostex 4-track cassette machine. With that machine he created first demo tapes for an underground scene of new bands in Minneapolis (The Blue Up, The Magnolias, The Funseekers, etc). Ed gave me more cassette demos than anyone else. He has enough demos of his own songs to create an individual demo-blog-website showcasing just his cassette collection. Until he does, here are a couple of tracks from THE DIG recorded around the time he & I were scheming up the Susstones label & a recording studio- the summer of 1984. At that time, The Dig WAS Ed Eckerson, the lineup that put out the two 7″ singles & eventually the compilation CD (all released on Susstones, natch) was to come the next year. These two tracks are charming & a bit whimsical compared to the serious & tough attitude that The Dig evolved into, but they still have some punky flair. I had lunch with Ed yesterday, he is doing great & keeping busy as always; thanks to him for allowing me to put up “a couple of songs”.
The Blue Up is just about the only band I ever offered my bass-playing services to. Not very good at bass, I just wanted to see the band continue, so I dreamed up a scheme to get out of Minnesota during the winter- I’d book a tour of the south & California if it was OK with Rachel Olson, the leader of the band. I had a great time helping The Blue Up put out their debut 45 “We Are the Garden” & the 12″ EP “Now!” That was produced by Grant Hart & also licensed for German release to the Still Sane label. Hanging around Carolyn Rush, Renee Bracci, Sally Sweet & Rachel was a blast. Rachel was one smart cookie, so she turned me down. Oh well, another Minnesota winter I had to endure, and the band went into an early hiatus. They of course rose again & executed some memorable live performances, released the wonderful CDs “Cake & Eat It” & “Spool Forka Dish”, before Rachel became Ana Voog going solo. The track “3000 People” is from the band’s first five-song demo tape, recorded in 1985 at Neil Thorgrimson’s 8-track studio. This session also produced two songs for the band’s first 45. “Lady Next Door” was recorded in 1986 by Grant Hart at Nicollet Studios. This nine-song session generated five songs for the “Now!” 12″ EP- this is an unreleased outtake.
Thanks to Ana Voog for permission to post these tracks- I ran into her last summer & she was doing great!
GJG is certainly the best place to buy a ton of records. We have 470,000 of them, and have been selling 'em for 29 years. GJG is also a blog: I like lo-fi analog sound (cassettes and vinyl, please) and lo-rez/highly-pixelated/blurry photographs of (mainly) Minnesota music and its related ephemera.
A word about the audio clips posted on this blog: ABSOLUTELY NO sound editing is used. No level boosting, no de-clicking, no 'cleaning up', no sweetening, no mastering. You can do that yourself if you like- we're trying to give you the actual sound from the item provided- warts and all.
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