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[Off The Record]
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The Swimming Pool Qís

For about a month, Atlantaís Swimming Pool Qís seemed the band most likely to put Georgia on the musical map. As it was, their 1981 debut album (along with Pylonís debut the same year, and the B-52sí a year earlier) went a long way toward establishing the Peach State as the land of jittery rhythms, quirky lead singers, surf guitar, and a strange but friendly sensibility. Long out of print, that minor classic makes its CD debut on the bandís own label (yes, theyíre still together); itís coupled with another albumís worth of outtakes and extensive liner notes (by singer/guitarist Jeff Calder) that put the early-í80s Atlanta/Athens scene in context.

At the time there was no shame in being a college party band as long as you played the parties that the weird art students went to ("Rat Bait," a song apparently written as a good excuse to shout its title, captures what those parties sounded like). Anne Richmond Boston got the more poignant vocal numbers; the opening "Little Misfit" is rather touching and shows a melodic pop side that the band werenít interested in developing yet (that would come on their later major-label releases). Alluding to everything from Johnny Cash to Captain Beefheart, the remaining tracks reveal how many good ideas can result when youíre willing to try anything: along with one of its eraís greatest song titles, "Model Trains (Are Better Than Rock íní Roll)" sports a muttery vocal and a jangly lead guitar. If the future R.E.M. members werenít actively taking notes, they were probably out tapping the keg.


Issue Date: October 25 - November 1, 2001

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