24.1.13

NICE STRONG ARM : Reality Bath LP (Homestead, 1987)

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Nice Strong Arm's debut Reality Bath LP was one of my inaugural shares on this blog, originally posted way back in early 2009...

I can't remember how I originally acquired it, though the sleeve of my copy has a tell-tale, brutal corner nick, suggesting it was a promo copy that Selectadisc had dumped in their already crammed second hand racks. Of course, the late '80s was a boom time for off-centre guitar music, & if a record was cheap, released by Homestead Records, & generally looked a bit odd, I'd more than likely risk a few quid on it, secure in the knowledge I could offload it the following week if my cream remained unclotted. Reality Bath ticked all 3 boxes.

26 years on, I still know virtually nothing about Nice String Arm, merely that they were a shadowy trio of Austin origin (thereby continuing Texas' steadfast psychedelic lineage - from The Elevators & The Red Krayola, via The Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, & The Jesus Lizard, to latter day psychotropic explorers like The Black Angels, & Charalambides), & that Reality Bath's eye-catching Allen Burris sleeve art seemed to be everywhere when it first appeared. Presumably still flush from Sonic Youth's early success, Long Island's prolific Homestead Records issued it alongside a seemingly non-stop sequence of Live Skull, Volcano Suns, Phantom Tollbooth, & Death of Samantha albums - quickly cementing the "Homestead sound" (hint: there wasn't one). Despite being granted acres of column inches & advertising space by the more reliable underground music mags of the era (Forced Exposure, Chemical Imbalance, Your Flesh, Option, et al), Reality Bath was lost in the vinyl melĂ©e & quickly achieved a forlorn bargain bin omnipotence. Tellingly, I've never met anybody else who owns a copy, so I assume, despite it's bottom dollar "remaindered" status, virtually no-one bought it at the time...

Though they'd release a further 2 albums, neither equaled the often downright peculiar Reality Bath for bent-minded, quasi-grunge hallucinogenica. It's finest moments still remind me of Helios Creed's earliest solo records - a bedraggled, patchouli-reeking, backwoods Hendrix figure, staggering out of a drug-warped American south in oil-stained bells & a tatty Guru Guru t-shirt. It's never been granted a CD issue either (a 2-fer with 1988's Mind Furnace would've made complete sense) so, like many outstanding Homestead records of the period, it sadly slipped off radar some time ago.

4 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting .......

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  2. Well, it's definitely "of it's time" (i.e. mid-to-late 1980s), but it's curiously timeless too... work that one out!

    Needless to add, I really like it.

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  3. Anonymous25.4.13

    the singer/guitarist went on to be in TIMCO in SF...haven't heard the albums in years, but I loved their live shows.

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  4. Anonymous17.3.14

    Just picked up on this entry. Reality Bath is one of my top 40 albums of all time. Bought it on a whim same day I collared a copy of EVOL and it's lived me ever since. 3 piece fabulous drifting Psyche Rock Noise that always sounded like there were 3 wigged out guitarists playing off each other. They never hit the same peaks again everything after sounded like a 3 piece rock band. Sad but hey....this album will live with me forever. I like "Rooksby's comment - "of it's time but curiously timeless" its true.

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