On Dec. 1, 1983, Pylon played its final show — for the first time. History proved it wouldn’t be the last. But while reveling in buzz band accolades alongside Athens’ early ’80s new wave peers R.E.M. and the B-52’s, the post-punk outfit went out on a high note. At the time, Pylon singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay, bass player Michael Lachowski, drummer Curtis Crowe, and guitarist Randy Bewley had reached an impasse. After releasing two critically acclaimed albums, 1980’s Gyrate
, and 1983’s Chomp
, via DB Records, the group played Athens’ Mad Hatter one last time. “We had a pact that we would go our separate ways when we were no longer having fun,” Briscoe Hay says. “We still enjoyed playing, and we remained friends. Really, we were sort of a family.”
The show was filmed for a television pilot called “The Athens Shows,” which also included a performance by Athens’ alternative rock act Love Tractor. Ultimately, only a handful of songs performed that night survived the video edit. But a separate 4-Track audio recording was also made — seemingly lost to the sands of time.
When Bewely died of a heart attack in 2009, Briscoe Hay inherited some unreleased Pylon recordings. As the story goes, a few years earlier, Lachowski had borrowed a ring-worn Chomp
album sleeve from Chunklet Industries owner Henry Owings, to use when creating the cover art for DFA’s 2009 CD reissue, Chomp More
. When Lachowski returned the cover a few years later, Owings bemoaned the shortage of unreleased and rare material on DFA’s reissue.
Lachowski, Briscoe Hay, and Owings started searching for an appropriate live recording that could be considered for release. Briscoe Hay passed along Bewley’s tapes, where they found a CD featuring mixed-down audio of four songs from Pylon’s final 1983 performance. “It met all of our parameters,” she says. “It was a significant show. It was well recorded, and it was complete.”
A search for the rest of the recording led to Swimming Pool Q’s singer and guitarist Jeff Calder who dug up the tape. It was given to Derek Almstead (Circulatory System, Elf Power) who mixed the songs, and then over to Drew Crumbraugh, who mastered it. Bob Weston (Shellac) did the vinyl mastering at Electrical Audio in Chicago.
Simply titled Live
, the 20-song double LP reveals new dimensions of Pylon’s personality that are only hinted at throughout Gyrate