Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Limbo Race - Two singles

Limbo Race
Two singles

Released 1983 on Limborations
Reviewed by Lawrence, 24/10/2003ce

Well, after awhile I couldn't get away from talking about a couple of other records that had been part of my life...

Limbo Race were an obscure band from Boston that were associated with another band of that town, Mission Of Burma, except 'Race had more of a hypnotic, Joy Division pulse to them and also were more angst-ridden than either band.

I got into them when their two singles earned airplay on a college station in my town called WRUR. They played Limbo Race alot simply because they were from Boston and figured anything from there was cool (Mission, Lyres, Neats, et cetera.) As a bitter, misanthopic teen I very much connected with the song "Down And Backwards", the same way I would later connect with Death In June.

I never had been able to find this band's records at House Of Guitars (which Armand Schaubroeck owns.) It was only earlier this year when I found old copies of both singles at the Bop Shop -- being overjoyed finding them!

Anyways, the first singe had a classic Roman image of children drinking from the breasts of a wolf on the cover -- I have seen similar images before and it has always haunted me -- perhaps because most of me is of Italian origin and therefore probably part Roman. Anyways...

The first song is the aformentioned "Down And Backwards", of which the theme seems to be about manipulation of some sort. I could relate to this having been a victim of peer-pressure at the time the record came out. The vocals sound appropriately angry and anguished (the singer and songwriter's name, looking at the cover now, was Randy Black.) Also the track starts with an excellent drum intro, and I can tell the drummer was very much influenced by Stephen Morris. Also the guitars have a Gang Of Four edginess to them.

The flip is called "What It Is", and seems even more bitter and a tad misanthropic. ("I'm tired of society!", as Black howls in disgust.) The guitar sounds a bit more disjointed here and this time there is a sax player.

The later single seems less about social concern's, and "Ina's Song" appears to be more personal. It doesn't seem to be about a lover or ex-lover -- perhaps a friend or roommate. The subject in question appears to have been hurt by someone she had been involved with ("I bet he gave you a damn good reason why/I bet he made you cry.") There's that frustrated, refrain of "Where was I?" -- one could tell Black was deeply affected by this.

The song has the same sax player as on "What This Is", and there's is also a synth player and better production than the bargin-basement last record. The whole band wrote this song, by the way -- according to the credits.

The flip is "Small Talking" and the lyrics seem to be more arty and indirect. Black co-wrote this with the bassist John Neidhart, so maybe Black didn't pen the lyrics for all I know... Anyways, this is the band's most experimental effort -- mostly ska-based with some Sonic Youth-style dissonance. Black's guitar work at the conclusion is quite dramatic here, making good use of a phaser (or was it a flanger?)

Anyways, good luck finding these. Maybe try getting on Google or some other search-engine and look for Boston record shops. Not tooo many people have heard of this band, so I'm sure there must be some copies floating around.

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