by Gregor MacKenzie
PART FIVE

On beyond Misanthropes

The MORs

Next up for Break’er Records were The MORs, a garage band with a pop influence, from northeast Minneapolis, and friends of The Hypstrz. I saw them at Jay's Longhorn several times (they would often play with The Hypstrz) and I really liked two of their songs, The Girl Next Door and Telephone Action, so those two songs came out on B.R. 45-109. The MORs were Scott Browning (bass guitar), Bruce Browning (drums), Mark Ingebretson (vocals) and Scott Anderson (guitar). The MORs went on to release a 45 on Bogus Records (the same label that released an EP by The Hypstrz). Eventually, The MORs transformed into Whole Lotta Loves and Scott Anderson went on to play guitar with Red House, which included former members of NNB.

The Turnbuckles

I spent many a Sunday morning watching All Star Wrestling on television. It was kind of like a cartoon show, with bizarre wrestlers and Mean Gene Okerlund, who provided commentary and often interviewed the various wrestlers. One thing for sure, I was always entertained and amused by the antics of all those on this show. One day, a new wrestler appeared on the show, Super Destroyer Mark II, who was, in reality, a guy from Eden Prairie. He wore a mask, never spoke and was managed by Lord Alfred Hayes, a guy who claimed to be from the royal family of England. These two characters were very intriguing to me. Tad and I (along with Dave Danger) went to a wrestling show to check things out. The audiences hated Super Destroyer Mark II, as he was cast a "bad guy." They also hated Lord Alfred Hayes. I was at one match at the Civic center in St. Paul (along with Tad) and someone in the crowd dumped several large glasses of beer on Hayes, all decked out in a tuxedo (I don’t think it was staged, but who knows?). Naturally, we took a liking to Super Destroyer and Hayes and we decided to write a song about them. Over at Tracks on Fifth, Tad played bass and also did the rhythm guitar track and we got Mike McKern to play the drums and we got Chris Hinding to do a "psycho-delic" guitar solo. Chris got quite a bizarre guitar sound by playing around with the equipment there. Tad Pensive (aka Jack Thomas) sang the lead vocals and I sang along in the background.

At the end of the song you can hear Lord Alfred Hayes, from an audiotape I made of one of the wrestling shows on television. The flipside of Super Destroyer Mark II was a tune Tad and I wrote called Rearranged. I am not really sure what Rearranged is about. Originally, the song was called Disengaged but then I heard Hall and Oates had just put out a song with that title so I decided to switch the name to Rearranged. So, we got the 45 back from the pressing plant, sent out some promo copies and just a few weeks later I turned on All Star Wrestling and witnessed a very shocking scene. Super Destroyer Mark II and Lord Alfred Hayes were having an argument. Destroyer told Hayes he was leaving his management and he ripped off his mask. Actually, what happened was, Super Destroyer Mark II was leaving town and would soon be transformed into Sergeant Slaughter. Shortly after that, Hayes announced he had a new wrestler, this one named Super Destroyer Mark III, who appeared to be an exact replica of Mark II. I called Tad and we rushed back into Tracks on Fifth to record new words over the old music tracks. The problem was, the only new words we had, were to replace Super Destroyer Mark II, with Super Destroyer Mark III. Well, it just didn’t work too well, so we scrapped the idea of a new 45 of Super Destroyer Mark III. I got a letter from a guy who wrote articles for a wrestling magazine and he told me he actually gave the wrestler Super Destroyer Mark II a copy of the Super Destroyer Mark II 45 right after he left the ring at a local show. Of all the Break’er 45s, this 45 has become the most sought after, in recent years. The record sleeve states special thanks to The Craig. The Craig (an English band) had a song entitled I Must be Mad on the Pebbles series. This was one of my favorite songs from that series.

Magnetic Head Cleaners: Recording the Vacuum Cleaner

The next 45 for Break’er was I Want To Function With You and Mechanical Rights (Service Me) by the Magnetic Head Cleaners. One day at home, I decided to record a variety of mechanical noises. I got the cassette player out and recorded the vacuum cleaner, a mechanical broom and a number of other things. I took my cassette tape over to Tatia Studios in Arden Hills, where Dave Danger was now working as an engineer. We transferred my cassette tracks over to the larger tape machine there and started to experiment with sounds. We got the secretary at the studio to record a couple of spoken tracks and the result was this 45. Dave and I were always interested in futuristic concepts for songs, so we had a lot of fun doing this 45. I suppose, this is probably the most bizarre 45 of all the Break’er 45s. In 1982, Dave released an album of 4 songs by The New occupants (a studio group) on Danger Records that included new versions of I Want To Function With You and Mechanical Rights.

The Hit Squad

I liked the sound at Tatia Studios, so I decided to go back and do some more recording there, so I got The Misanthropes over there and we did a couple of 1960s cover tunes, Pictures of Matchstick Men (by Status Quo, an English band) and Thou Shall Not Steal (by Dick and Dee, from California). The band was called The Hit Squad. Matchstick Men was done pretty true to the original record, but Thou Shall Not Steal turned into a destructo version. Dave had some new sound gadget there at the studio and we got carried away experimenting with it. I think we started out trying to do a more "normal" cover of this tune, but things kind of degenerated along the way, so we wound up with this version. The Hit Squad went back to Tatia at some point and did cover versions of two other 60 Is songs, Not Too Long Ago (by The Uniques) and Joannie Get Angry (originally Johnny Get Angry by Joannie Sommers), both of which were destructo versions. These two songs were never released.

1981/Zoogies/Sam's/First Avenue/7th Street Entry

Sometime around 1981, Jay's Longhorn became Zoogies. They still featured the newer bands, which now played in the upper level of the club. The Misanthropes played a gig at Zoogies, opening up for Wilma and The Wilbers. Also in 1981, Sam’s (formerly Uncle Sam’s and prior to that, The Depot) opened up the 7th Street Entry and started booking the new bands. Sam’s featured an elevated stage and a large dance floor. 7th Street Entry was a smaller room (connected to Sam’s), which could hold a couple hundred people. The two rooms were referred to as “the main room” and “the entry.” Many of the Longhorn/Zoogies bands now started playing at Sam’s/7th Street Entry and many new bands also played there including The Warheads, Loyal Subject’s, Ben Day Dots, Loud Fast Rules (who changed into Soul Asylum), Whole Lotta Loves, Things That Fall Down, Man Sized Action, The New Psychenauts, Fine Art, Otto’s Chemical Lounge, The Magnolias, Run Westy Run and Johnny Rey and the Reaction. The main room would usually feature national/international acts and the 7th Street Entry would typically feature the local bands. On occasion, local bands would play showcase sets in the main room. The Misanthropes played a set one time in the main room. Sam’s would soon change their name to First Avenue. The Misanthropes played three times in the 7th Street Entry, opening up for Curtis A., The Hypstrz and Wilma and The Wilbers. Zoogies eventually closed down, but the rock’n’roll revolution continued over at First Avenue/7th Street Entry, just a few blocks away.

Kambodia

Spike (guitar player from Wilma and The Wilbers) put a band together called Kambodia that played one gig at 7th Street Entry, opening up for The Hypstrz. We wrote a bunch of military type songs including V.C. Girls, Blonde Bombshell, Land Mine, Jungle Heat and Shell Shocked. Spike brought in a bunch of branches he found outside his apartment and we taped a smoke bomb to a helmet that was worn by the bass player (198218 from Wilma and The Wilbers) that we lit off during the last song of our set.

2 Bizarre Bands

Two of the most bizarre bands (and there were many) that I saw at 7th Street Entry were The Warheads and Loyal Subject's. The Warheads didn't have any "real" songs, they just did these long jams, starting out slow and then gradually picking up steam along the way, with lead singer "Don the Baptist" screaming out "stream of consciousness" words on top of the noise. The Warheads had a perverse habit of playing on holidays, for some reason. Don was a bit of a showman and one night he dragged a female mannequin on stage, sawed off the head and started eating the brains (cooked spaghetti noodles) from inside the head. The guy was totally unpredictable and always entertaining. Loyal Subject's featured a female singer and they had a bunch of anti-social songs including You Equal Nothing. The guys couldn't even tune their guitars, much less play them, but it didn't matter, they were fun to watch and had an intense sound.

Wilma and the Wilburs

Wilma and The Wilbers were up next for Break’er Records. I saw the band at Jay's Longhorn and I liked them right away. They had fast, catchy, short songs and a good full sound. There were only a couple of local bands that had female members, so Wilma and The Wilbers were rather unique. The band released three songs on B.R. 45-114, Chronic Alkie, The Hole and Poor Little Joey. The band played quite a few gigs at Jay's Longhorn and then at 7th Street Entry. The band wanted to do a follow-up 45, but they told me they wanted their own label, Bedrock Records, so I acted as a producer (and also wrote the words to Tiger Beat) and assisted with their second 45, which had four songs, I Like It Thick, My Guy, Tiger Beat and I Speak Russian. Both 45s were recorded at Tracks on Fifth.

Another Misanthrope 45

The final 45 on Break’er was BR45-117, Northfield Girls and Soviet Girl by The Misanthropes. Once again, we recorded this at Tracks on Fifth. (the story continues)

NEXT PAGE: PART SIX

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