|Day 175: 63 Eyes (Never Alone)
August 16, 2022
This blog goes out to a lot of bands most of you have never heard of. Richmond's Death Piggy, Bloomington's The Smears, Detroit's Almighty Lumberjacks of Death, Austin's Glass Eye, Pittsburgh's Hurl. Thousands of young men and women being met by mild stardom in their local clubs, but never lucky enough to break out of the constraints of the regions.
This blog, thus, is for the ultimate DIYers, all those post-punk (the original punk) bands who said "we can do that" in the hopes of being the next Ramones, or a generation later, the next REM, and emerging from underground scenes to national prominence.
However, this blog extends to the larger orbit around these bands, the DIY recording studios that allowed the music to get to vinyl, places like Parkersburg's Earth Tones, or Morgantown's Frozen Sounds, or Winston-Salem's Drive In Studios. Don't forget also the clubs, bars, and dives that were willing to host these bands, the locals' versions of CBGB's. And because a volume of young men and women gravitated to these bands, and their dives, to participate in something that felt so close to home, this note's really for all of you.
To all of us at those gigs, small crowds or packed to the gills, remember, we were never alone.
As with other college towns, Morgantown, West Virginia, has had its share of local heroes. Recently two of them, Owen Davis (perhaps a future song series subject) and Todd Burge, returned to their underground roots, or at least the building for the Underground Railroad, which featured so many of these bands, to do their version of the Rolling Stones hitting the road again. I missed the show, and rue the fact that I couldn't get there. Both Davis and Burge wrote catchy, quirky songs, and Todd, especially, had the ability to manifest (but not Velez Manifest, insert inside Motown joke there) across many genres.
In hearing of this oldies reunion at the former URR (as locals called The Underground Railroad), I listened to some old Todd Burge songs and ordered recent material from his website. It was his last 80s band, a band that I never saw live, as I had recently moved to Bloomington, that leapt out for this series: 63 Eyes.
63 Eyes, out of Parkersburg, West Virginia, had the most appropriate local title for their 1987 release, Look In For Mothmen. The songs at times were as mysterious as the Point Pleasant, WV, legend of a Mothman. "Salt Stings My Face," "Cavewoman With Dishpan Hands," and "Exit The Pig" all crackled with driving guitars and bass, Burge's vocals growls, grunts, and groans emerging through the smoky-sounding songs, sounding like the morning fog coming up over Silver Bridge (check out this article on Mothman, with requisite cool illustration, to understand legendary references).
My favorite "Never Alone" was re-recorded by Burge for his 2020 It's My Pandemic, a pleasant surprise to hear the song slowed down to an acoustic, folk version. More importantly it had me back listening to the original version, Mark Poole's shredding guitar riff, and Burge's guttural bass giving us that "sudden pull into darkness" where our head "seems to empty out and you can't claim the slightest little, little sharpness."
Standing at the foot of the Underground Railroad stage, or whatever stage fits your memory, we all danced ourselves out of our ill-fitted places in society and showed off the "feelings you just can't fake." No, "we are not alone, never alone." It just felt like it the next day, as we headed off to class, or to the job at the mall, or to the Plasma Donation Center, eyes, 2 or 63, all red, scaring the little kids at the bus stop, and starting a whole new urban legend.
63 Eyes. "Never Alone." Look In For Mothmen. Poolbur Music, 1987. Archival footage here.
Todd Burge website
Day 174: Uriah Heep "Rock 'n Roll Medley"
Day 176: Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler "Yakety Axe"
Unfinished List here.