1989/1990 was a transition year for me. Done with grad school in Syracuse, leaving typesetting and the printing business behind, and moving to a fellowship with the New York State Senate in Albany. Weird and difficult in a number of ways. Most difficult was that, for at least the ten months of the fellowship, my wife and I would be largely separated during the week, as she stayed with a job that paid the bills in Syracuse and I tried to see if a foray into government work was going to pay off in a permanent position. (The fellowship came with no such guarantees.) So we moved her into a smaller apartment in Syracuse, just around the corner from where we had spent a delightful five years, and I rented a moderately horrible fourth-floor walkup on Chestnut Street in Albany, just steps from where I would be working, which was good because I brought my extremely unreliable Renault Fuego with me to Albany and let her keep our brand new Ford Ranger. Walking to work had been an important option throughout my ownership of that Renault.
I was back in Albany, though I had never quite been in Albany before. I grew up not far away in Scotia, a suburb of Schenectady. We had gone to Albany bars often in the post-high school years, and knew it a little bit. A number of my friends had gravitated to Albany by that point, so I actually had some friends living there when I moved, including my best friend from high school, Dan. (Not roommate Dan — and I have since expanded my choices in friends so they’re not all named Dan. Though in grad school, I was also somewhat tight with a Dan.) And through Dan and other friends, who had been in Albany for a bit, I started to get to know Albany a bit better than I had on the occasional trips back home over the previous 11 years. We were all still fairly young (in our 20s), and able to just pick up and head out for a weeknight movie showing at the Spectrum or for some band that might be playing somewhere.
Here’s how I remember it: on what I’m sure was a weeknight, I was called out to walk over to the QE2 (you younger kids will know it as the Fuzebox), a club whose front was an old White Tower burger joint. (interestingly, that White Tower was moved twice to get to that point. You can read all about it at my local history blog.) The band was one I’d never heard of: Fetchin Bones. (Emerging from the intense experience of grad school, someone telling me they were associated with Mitch Easter stirred no recognition; I had no notion who he was either). I remember them being a lot of fun, led by a powerhouse lead singer, a rougher approach to music than I was generally into back then but very good, exciting and energetic.
Now, the only thing wrong with that memory is that Nippertown says that Fetchin Bones played in Albany on Sept. 14, 1989 – a Thursday. That makes perfect sense, although it would have been in my very first week of work in the Legislature. But it says the show was at SUNY Albany’s Campus Center Ballroom – definitely a place I’ve been, definitely not where I remembered this concert taking place. But Greg Haymes was more likely to have that right than I am, so unless they played Albany twice, I’m misremembering the venue.
I’m certain that I didn’t buy their record at the show, but I picked it up shortly thereafter, perhaps at Records ’n’ Such. I think it may even have been the Troy location. Anyway, buy it I did, as one of the very last LPs I purchased in my Original LP Era (as perhaps we will call it). I’d been buying primarily CDs for a couple of years already, but – and this is key – when we split up our apartments, the CD player remained in Syracuse, and the records and turntable came to Albany. I had nowhere to really enjoy music, as the front room was bleak, the carpet smelled, and the lighting in my apartment just seemed to highlight the sadness of the plaster walls. So I can’t say I did a lot of music listening in that apartment, but some (I had my tape deck, too). And it made sense if I was going to buy something new by a band that I had heard on my own, it might as well be on LP.
But given that they came in that transition period, Fetchin Bones didn’t get a lot of play. I liked the record, and I regularly threaten my wife with being her “flesh blanket,” borrowing a phrase from one of the catchier songs on “Monster.” Listening to this again, all these years later, I find it quite enjoyable, good raggedy rock. It turns out that this was the last album for this group from North Carolina, and I never got any of their earlier works, so this was the limit of my Fetchin Bones experience. In looking them up this week, I was surprised to see that they have a very active Facebook presence, with lots of pics from back in the day when they were opening for R.E.M., B52s and others — so if you were into them, look them up on Facebook.