It's All About Venus and Mars
:: Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay ::
:: Lies ::
:: Call of The Wild ::
:: Megalomania ::
:: Cactus Fruit ::
:: You're A Dancer ::
:: And You Know ::
:: Bandit ::
:: Get Down Woman ::
:: Visions Through an Empty Glass ::
While searching through the new arrivals bin at Amoeba one fine day, I did a double take when I laid eyes on this one. I could tell immediately it was a "vanity" record. In other words, some guys figured that since no real record label would sign them, they'd put up the cash themselves and obtain fame and fortune via the back door route. These records are always fun in some way or another, but Amoeba wanted $20.00 for this one. Why? I didn't know, but since then I've seen it around a couple of times at different stores, and it was even more expensive. Something about the name of the band gave me pause though. Jupiter. "Why do I know this?", I asked myself. I squinted my eyes and looked closer. There, grinning back at me from the back cover was my childhood friend Tim. The rather dapper looking guitar player is Lorenzo, a guy I went to high school with. Tim and I played in Lorenzo's band for a month or so during my freshman year. $20.00? No problem.
Tim and I were best buds during our middle school years. We got into the rock & roll when we were about 13 and went to our first "concert" together (Creedence with Booker T & the MGs and Wilbert Harrison at The Forum). Tim took up guitar, and showed me a few chords. We convinced our parents to lay out the big bucks and buy us brand new Teisco Del Rey guitars from the local Thrifty Drug Store ($50.00 price range). Mine broke within the first week when I leaned it against the wall and it slid down and hit the tile floor, the neck snapping clean off at the body. I got my money back and traded down for a more "practical" item; a bean bag chair. Shortly thereafter, Tim bought a Harmony Strat-O-Tone from the local pawn shop for $12.00. By this time he had acquired quite a few cheap, semi-functional guitars, so he gave me the Harmony. I still own this guitar and will be forever in his debt.
Tim and I drifted apart during high school, the band with Lorenzo being one of our final attachments. A couple of years after high school, Tim turned up again after he got wind I was in a punk band and started hanging out with us, but we were in two different worlds. Another couple of years later he showed up on my doorstep with a record in his hand. Turns out he and Lorenzo had gotten back together again and started a band called Jupiter. And look! Their version of "Mongoloid" made it onto a Devo tribute album put out by Rhino Records called "Devotees". Well I'll be damned.
Maybe I was jealous, or just didn't care, but I didn't even bother to go out and buy myself a copy of Devotees at the time (a move I later regretted, although I now own a copy and they're not all that hard to find). I didn't see or hear from Tim for another 25 years after that, and I had no idea that Jupiter put out their own LP. I kind of wished I'd stayed in touch now, but at the time I was about to get married and settle down, and I'd had enough of the whole band scene (little did I or my future wife know that after a couple of years of marriage, I'd join a band and would always be in one band or another from then on).
Some time during high school, Tim asked if I would record his band on my new JVC reel to reel, which had a "sound on sound" function allowing you to multi-track. I went to Tim's house and recorded him and his friends Tom and Wes in Tim's bedroom. Tim and Tom played acoustics and all three sang harmonies. One of the songs was "Lies", a bright, poppy early Beatlesque little number which Jupiter gave the power-pop treatment here. Way to go Tim.
Well worth the $20.00 I paid for it, Multiple Choice is truly a pop gem that grows on me with each listen. Lorenzo (as I recall) was a total Byrds freak when he was 15, and as you can see the Rickenbacker and Vox thing was still his sound of choice at this point. The 60s are an obvious influence, but they were ready to take this thing into the 80s. Megalomania is a revelation and hints at a darker side I would love to hear more of. Even seemingly daft throwaways like Cactus Fruit and Bandit eventually reveal hidden layers. The ambitious closer, Visions Through an Empty Glass starts off wearing it's Pink Floyd influence on it's sleeve, but then goes punk/pop bat shit crazy, then back again.
The final bit of 6 degrees for me is the fact that the album was recorded at Media Arts Recording in Hermosa Beach, where my punk band had recorded some demos a couple of years previous. The studio would become synonymous with Black Flag, and the house engineer, Spot, would become SSTs go to guy for Hüsker Dü and The Meat Puppets.
Now I wish I'd stayed in closer contact with Tim and Lorenzo in those days and had seen Jupiter play some shows. Oh well, never too late for a comeback...