This record – as a package – is a little thing of beauty. Some aspects of it that appeal to me are:
- The sleeve: it’s a type of standard seven inch single inner sleeve, elevated to the status of The Cover by way of some really nice, what look to be hand-stamped (or perhaps screen-printed) pieces of lettering and illustration. Very simple, very cost-effective, and very successful.
- The record itself: it’s one-sided. Physically, I mean – not musically. I really like the odd surprise of a one-sided record – flipping it over to see, well, nothing. It’s cool how alien that looks when you’re so used to the appearance of grooves on a slice of vinyl. Ever tried to play the smooth side of a one-sided record? The stylus freaks out, skips all over the place and then flings itself to safety.
- The insert that comes with the record: it includes details of this record’s original price, and that of the other releases on Four Letter Words at the time. The most expensive item is a fanzine plus flexi combination, which cost just two dollars including postage. As is confirmed by text on the insert, this is ‘budget pop’.
Four Letter Words records was run by a guy called Maz, who Wikipedia tells me was in the Mummies. I never knew this before now. It’s a surprising clash of cultures – on one side the indie-pop, hand-finished recording scene you see represented here; on the other, a garage punk band who dressed in tattered bandages and were somewhat legendary. I guess it’s all punk rock, DIY, independent thinking, though, isn’t it? Allen Clapp had been friends with Maz since the early 1980s; they grew up together in California. Isn’t that nice? This record was released in the very early 1990s, as I recall, but as is the case with so many indie-pop releases, it’s difficult to track down an exact release date.
For fun, I thought I’d look up how much it’d cost today to release a one-sided seven inch record – let’s say, in an edition of 300 copies, which is what I imagine the scale of this Allen Clapp release to have been. But, you know what? I can’t find a single place on the internet that seems to offer this as a service. Maybe I’ve found a gap in Google? Maybe there’s just too much music now, and nobody feels they could adequately represent themselves on just a single side of seven inch vinyl?