Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Robert Hazard & The Heroes - S/T EP (2 Versions) (1982)

While gathering together music for a Philadelphia Music radio special, I went on the blogs looking for some Robert Hazard. After digging around in a haystack I finally found one rip of his first EP. But it was so horribly distorted I decided to suck it up, dig out my old vinyls and rip them myself.

But let me backtrack a bit first. Growing up in Philly, this stuff was inescapable. Looking online now I found that this EP sold either 100,000 or 300,000 copies in Philly alone. Whichever number is correct, I'll believe it. Let's just say it was a shit-ton of records. And deservedly so. This is pure new wave brilliance, every song an anthem. The first two tracks, Escalator Of Life and Change Reaction were the massive hits, but all five songs saw much airplay. And the closing Dylan cover is simply explosive.
The story on the 2 versions is that after Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder wandered in to a bar where they were playing (he was in town to review the Stones' 1981 show at JFK Stadium) and got blown away by their always great set, he wrote about them in the mag. Kind of unheard-of back then for an unsigned local band. Major label boobs at RCA read it and, having had their work done for them, signed the band.
And instead of just re-releasing the perfect original, being major-label idiots, they remixed 3 of the 5 songs. Vastly inferior mixes, of course. But maybe this is just because we were so used to the originals. Though I distinctly remember thinking "What the fuck have they done?" upon first hearing the new versions.
They also dropped the "& The Heroes" part; I guess thinking it was easier to market a solo act in the era of Paul Young and Thomas Dolby, etc. ad. nauseum.

Whatever. I have included both versions in a 320 rip for your evaluation. Keep the one you like best, don't trust my clouded judgment. The RCA version sounds cleaner having of course spent much less time on the turntable. But they're both OK.
The reason there's no cover image up there is that both versions came wrapped in a poster of the man. I couldn't find any decent pics online of it, but the files themselves have art of the underlying cover - the RCA version has lyrics and the indie version just the name and song list.

Robert Hazard passed away at 59 about a year ago. He had recently been signed to Rykodisc and released a very decent Americana/Folk record, "Troubador", that I found while scouring the blogs. I'm sure you can find it too. Don't know much about the intervening years; something about an antiques store in upstate New York. But I'm sure he was well taken care of over the years having written a little song you might have heard called Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

Get both versions HERE.

01. Escalator Of Life
02. Change Reaction
03. (I Just Want To) Hang Around With You
04. Out Of the Blue
05. Blowin' In the Wind

Funny thing about that '81 Stones concert mentioned above: I went to that, pretty much solely because I thought it might be my last chance - them being so fucking old and all. It was ok. You Can't Always Get What You Want was fantastic and is today my only clear memory of the show. That and their garish, ridiculous stage set.
Also, because the scalpers over-bought or sometrhing I got in for a mere $3 from a guy with a fistful of tickets. So it was worth it, haha.


Anonymous said...

good stuff! i too grew up in the Philly area, was going to art school there in 1980, and came back after living in LA for spell in 1983.....i remember Hazard OWNING the radio along with the pre-major label Hooters.....i think i might've seen the Heroes at the old Emerald City club in NJ, but maybe not, things are kinda fuzzy.....anyway. "Change Reaction' is a skinny tie classic!!! thanks! Jim

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Though my girl is a big 80s fan she never heard of Hazard until he popped up on my Zune recently. She didn't care for him and has a hard time believing he once owned the area I came from (she's a Texan gal). I can't recall when I last heard Chain Reaction but I have heard it so many times. It'll be interesting to compare the two releases. Great blog. So much killer music. Thanks! - D.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me Robert Hazard wanted his career as almost unnoticed as he wanted it to be. A talented artist usually goes that way. Thanks for the references, I'll translate part of your article onto Spanish for my blog (with your credit of course).

Alejandro Telleria

KiDG said...

Thanks for this! Really good stuff...

BTW, do you know where I can get my hands on Robert Hazard's original version of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"? Heard it on YouTube & it's really good! But it's rare & hard to find!

Phillip Remaker said...

Epic win! I have been looking for MP3s of these EPs (especially the unmolested, original one!) that have never been released on CD. Now, if I can just get the 45 version of the Hooter's "Fighting on The Same Side" and the "Man In The Street" Demo, my Philly music joy will be complete. Ask me about my copy of Beru Revue's "White Christmas."

Peter said...

The 2 Hooters indie singles here:


Fightin' On the Same Side b/w Wireless (1981) and ASll You Zombies (Live) b/w Rescue Me (1982).