I know all of this because Jason Willis of the Knockout Pills and Weird Lovemakers loaded me up with three CDs of The Embarrassment ten years ago. Thanks, Jason. The Embarrassment were a punk band from Wichita, Kansas. (Punk’s a label they countered with calling themselves, and a later album, “blister pop”). These are two tracks from their first-ever recording session in late 1979. I’ve always thought of the Embarrassment as building bridges in the middle of flat expanses. The middle of America—especially pre-internet—had a difficult time spreading independent music outside of its borders. It’s this lack of ability to transcend being landlocked that was both a curse and a blessing. The curse is obscurity and taking thirty or more years for a world larger than the middle of America to embrace great bands. The blessing is making unique, time-resistant music. (The fate of the Zero Boys comes to mind, too.) The Embarrassment built many bridges. The bridge from Manchester, England (Joy Division) to Minneapolis (Replacements) and the bridge from Los Angeles (Alley Cats) to Athens, Georgia (REM) are just two of them. They’re one of those bands that made a body of work—complex circulatory systems of music—which time has reinforced that they’re one of the shamefully looked-over, flown-over, bridge-building bands of the early ‘80s. A welcome re-reissue. (Big Time, then Heyday, now Last Laugh.) I fully recommend you spend time hunting this down.
–todd (Last Laugh)