Originally released in 1986, the Abecedarians released their debut album Eureka in strict limited run (only 500 numbered copies pressed for their fans). It was around this time that they also had their first single, Smiling Monarchs”, released on legendary Factory Records out of Manchester, England. What this LP & CD release brings together is Eureka in its original running order along with songs recorded from that era plus the 2 songs recorded and released by Factory Records in 1985 and mixed by Joy Division/New Order’s Bernard Sumner.
The opening track “Ghosts” is a very haunting track and will remind the listener of gloomy moody music that was emerging from the UK during the late 1970’s/ early 1980’s. Joy Division, early New Order, 17 Seconds / Faith / Pornography era Cure influences abound throughout this release. Reverb on the instruments and Chris Manecke’s vocals set the tone for late night listening in the dark.
“Smiling Monarchs”, “Benway’s Carnival”, and “Switch” are laced with synth and will appeal to fans of the recent cold wave / minimal synth movement. As for the rest of the tracks on this release, if you grew up in Los Angeles in the mid-late 1980’s you’d most likely to have heard an Abecedarians track being played on the local college radio station or caught them at the Scream Night Club at the Park View Plaza. Their sound captured everything that was happening in the Los Angeles & Orange County underground art rock – indie rock scene along with bands like Savage Republic, Drowning Pool, Psi-Com, Homeland, Red Temple Spirits, and others. “Misery of Cities” sums up the vibe of this era. The versions of “Wild Flower (Wild Flowers Grow from Trash)” and “They Said Tomorrow” (this demo version has nice sounding keyboards featured) are the early 80’s demos that made their way on the Bruce Licher Independent Project Records The Other Side of the Fence 2x10” release in 1991. Both of these tracks would appear a few years later in a more rockin’ sound on their Resin LP and the Scream compilation.
The Abecedarians' first full record wore its British influences heavily on its sleeve, so it's no wonder the band had already released a single on Factory Records at times, you get the feeling that all three members listened to nothing but Closer and maybe some A Certain Ratio and Crispy Ambulance material when they were first forming the band. Far from being simply copycats, though, the trio brought in a stark emotional and musical sensibility to the realm of American indie-rock of the time, avoiding either post-R.E.M. jangle or incipient punk-grunge snottiness. If anything, their peers were the likes of American Music Club and Thin White Rope, though Eureka's lengthy tracks doesn't quite reach as high as either of those two bands at their finest. Guitarist/vocalist Chris Manecke takes understandable center stage; his stringwork unsurprisingly relies heavily on digital reverb, though that isn't used as a fig leaf to cover inadequacies, as his sharp slashing on songs like "Ghost" demonstrates. As a vocalist, the Ian Curtis/Bernard Sumner style of flat projection is a clear model for Manecke, but so is the quiet intensity of the Comsat Angels' Stephen Fellows and the Sound's Adrian Borland's empathetic passion, making for an attractive overall combination. The crisp interplay of drummer Kevin Dolan and bassist John Blake (the latter of whom throws in some [at times] surprisingly funky fretless work) makes for the perfect counterpart to Manecke. Picking out highlights is a bit hard -- Eureka is consistently strong throughout but there are some definite breathtaking moments. "Soil" blends a relentless drive that calls to mind late-'70s Bowie with some truly haunting guitar lines, while the instrumental "The Other Side of the Fence" adds piano and synthesizer to a slightly gentler arrangement to set a definite sense of downbeat mood, much like Joy Division's "The Eternal."
Please Note: Every effort has been made by the band and the record label to get the best Master source of the audio for this release. The Abecedarians repertoire consisted of a diverse range of recordings and Masters over the years, therefore if you hear tape hiss, and or harmonic distortion on some tracks it is intentional.
Artwork, Design – MyDesign Group
Bass Guitar – John Blake
Drums – Kevin Dolan
Engineer – Charlie Ritter (tracks: A1 to B3), Eric Carton (tracks: A1 to B3), Evan Williams (tracks: A1 to B3), Michael Grimes (tracks: C4)
Guitar, Vocals – Chris Manecke (tracks: A1 to B3)
Mixed By – Biff Sanders (tracks: C3 to D4), Bruce Licher (tracks: C3 to D4), Steve Montgomery (tracks: C3 to D4)
Tracks C3 to D4 Mixed At Motiv Studios.Tracks C3, D1 to D4 Recorded In Orange County, California, between 1983-1985 and most tracks mixed November 1990 at Motiv Studios, LA.