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the days of suede / blog
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  • Jeffrey Alan Bright

instant karma cannot get you

Like it has with a lot of people, an event this past week here in the US of A has my thoughts spinning — and my better self wrestling with the urge to post vicious opinion. Then I remembered another election 24 years ago… I had been in San Francisco three years, the country and the city were in recession and the mood was tense. I was in an indie rock band called Myself a Living Torch. (Someone said it was the most pretentious band name they'd ever heard. I didn't disagree. The name actually comes from a darkly comic passage in a book titled Death on the Installment Plan by the French writer Céline. I still love it — the book and the name.) We had just sunk a lot of time and money into a recording that we released on CD. It did very little for us. Raw from the experience and soaked in the fever of the day we made a series of 8-track recordings in our rehearsal space on Minna Street. Recently, I digitized and mastered these recordings. I split them into two 10-song sets. The first "album" is Instant Karma Cannot Get Me. I'll hit you with the second one later. It's a nasty piece of work titled The Human Condition. Of course, I'm as biased as any mother toward her children, but I think IKCGM is a masterpiece. It has warts, for sure. But without the dark there is no light. The songs feature Eric Schulz (now the incomparable Harlan T Bobo) deftly venturing into a brave new world of guitar sampling and textures; Chris "Troy" Green (RIP, amigo) at the top of his game on bass; and Oakland's own Christopher Fisher going heavy and inventive with the beats. What strikes me now is the lyric content seems even more relevant than it did during that election cycle. It's free to listen and a bargain to buy here. So, go ahead, download and add it to your smarty phone. Turn it up loud and let it rip. Let it roar. Instant karma cannot get you — you've already been had. Oh, and by the way, that year was 1992 and Bill Clinton defeated both George H W Bush and Ross Perot. Remember Perot's "large sucking sound?" It seems almost quaint now.

I'd be less cynical if I knew how...

{March 2021 update: A newly restored and remixed edition of Instant Karma Cannot Get Me, transferred from original 8-track master tapes in 2020 and to be released in digital and physical formats, is currently in the works at JABMA.}

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