Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who Let the Dogs Out?


Long time readers may recall that in the mid-70s I was a member of an enterprising New York City underground band who released a highly regarded (by us) D.I.Y single.

And that we were called The Hounds. A name, I should add, that we agonized over and ultimately decided on thanks to the suggestion of a friend (hi, Kerri!) who thought the phrase "the hounds of spring," from Atalanta in Calydon (1865) by Victorian era English poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, kinda had a ring to it.

So. Please enjoy "Call Me," the A-side of our aforementioned 45 rpm platter. An attempt to do sort of bubblegum pop-Stones with a Who-esque middle section, with what success you can decide.

In any case, we broke up a year or so after this was released, and almost immediately we learned that a Chicago glam-rock bunch had not only stolen our name but actually gotten signed to a deal with Columbia Records. Even more infuriating, we heard third hand from somebody at CBS that the pretender Hounds had gotten their contract on the basis of somebody in A&R thinking that our song was the work of those other guys.

I have no idea if that's true or not, but I can guarantee that we all stewed about it at various low dives while consuming adult beverages at three in the morning on numerous occasions.

That's the cover art for those other Hounds' 1978 debut album Unleashed; all I'm gonna say about it is that a) good taste is timeless and b) I am convinced that Spinal Tap's "Bitch School" was based on it.

And here's those other Hounds cult hit "Drugland Weekend" from the aforementioned Unleashed. Sounds like an over-played and basically meh Mott the Hoople pastiche to me, but obviously I'm prejudiced.

Okay, so those other Hounds never became household words, and I have long since forgiven them (and our lawyer, who declined to sue then. Probably a good idea).

But now, via the miracle of the intertubes, I have just learned that before those other Hounds, and years before my bunch, there were...The Hounds.

From Sweden, and apparently world famous in their homeland between 1966-68.

And now I need to know -- do you slash your wrists in hot or cold water?

Especially after hearing the Swedish Hounds' hit cover version (in Sweden) of "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

Which -- given it's interestingly accented English -- at least does justice to the original by the song's composer, some guy named Sven Dylan

"You better start shwimming...

I think I need a drink, is what I'm saying.


edward said...

The divshare links are not showing up or working, at least for me.

Your story reminds me of a time in the late 70's or early 80's when there were (at least) 3 groups named REM - one in NYC, one in DC and the one that got famous. As soon as the Athens band got a contract, the others changed their names. The DC band became Tiny Desk Unit, I have no idea what the NYC band did. Any other REM's out there people know of?

steve simels said...

I don't know why the divshare links aren't showing up.

They showed up in preview yesterday.

I'll try putting them in again.

steve simels said...

Okay, it's a problem on Div Share's end. It happened a couple of weeks ago, as well.

Check back later, I guess.

mister muleboy said...

So sorry to correct Edward, but Tiny Desk Unit and "REM" were two distinct bands.

The DC "REM" became Egoslavia.

I found that Chris Anderson, bassist for the band, wrote an amusing, and true, piece on the band's name change.

At least the double-bill part is true; can't speak to the role played by Mike Mills. . . .

I think this link works to get a video:


steves said...

I remember that glam-Hounds record...well seeing it, at least. And has anyone else pointed out that the girl on the cover looks like Elvis in drag? In fact...is it Elvis?

mister muleboy said...

I wrote:

Chris Anderson, bassist for the band,

Apparently Chris ANderson is Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, and a force to be reckoned with on this Tweeter thing.

steve simels said...

Ah -- the divshare links are back.

I was beginning to be irked...

Anonymous said...

Nothing to add beyond that the other Hounds are "dead to me!"


Greyhoundude said...

An interesting double bill would have been the Hounds and the Laughing Dogs.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Chicago at the time the Hounds got their deal and went to their major label release party at the Park West. I doubt your CBS source, since Drugland Weekend was being played on Chicago radio from a John Hunter demo tape at least as early as 1976 and possibly before that (I didn't move to Chicago until the beginning of 1977). It was a huge unreleased hit in Chicago and my understanding is that it was the song that got them attention. Labels were crazy in those days - Columbus OH's The Godz got a similar deal based on one song (Gotta Keep Running), and both bands each got two major label albums out of bar band stuff. So did Ram Jam, didn't they?

Phil Cheese said...

What instrument did you play in The Hounds, Steve? Bass guitar?

steve simels said...

Not bass -- I'm doing the regular tuned (not open G) guitar on the right channel.