Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Until this month I couldn’t really tell you a whole lot about Cleveland, Ohio’s HUMAN SWITCHBOARD, a band active from 1977-1982 who made it to the semi-major label IRS in the early 80s and floated under most folks’ radars even then. I remember getting a flexidisc of theirs in my Trouser Press subscription when I was a teenager, and “recycling” it when I found it to be middle-of-the-road new wave college rock. At least that’s what I thought then. In my head these guys & gal were lumped in with those American half-power pop, half-new wavey rock bands that got snapped up by bigger labels in the great late 70s/early 80s feeding frenzy – your Holly & The Italians, your Robin Lane & The Chartbusters type of groups. But what did I know.

Then SH emails me a link to this MIKE REP guest-hosted radio show from a station in Columbus, Ohio this past January. Rep was the special guest on PAT RADIO, and he did a set of D.I.Y. rock and roll in Ohio through the years. There were a couple of revelations for me, and I heard some amazing stuff for the very first time, including a fantastic track from the HUMAN SWITCHBOARD’s 1977 EP called “Fly-In”. This is probably the best new discovery I’ve heard in a good year – a dark, simple sort of skeletal proto-indie rock, firmly rooted in the nascent Cleveland D.I.Y. aesthetic, and something that would stand tall on any of the HOMEWORK compilations that feature “too weird for punk” obscurities from that era. Absolutely love this song, and I’m proud to unearth an mp3 copy to share with you today.

As it so happens, that whole David Thomas (Pere Ubu)-produced first EP is outstanding. There’s another total ringer on there called “San Francisco Nights” that I’d like you to hear. I can’t quite put my finger on the band they ape so successfully here; jeez, it’s on the tip of my proverbial tongue. If only they employed some more of the vocal and tempo-building mannerisms of that band, whoever they are. Maybe you can help me figure it out.

Play The Human Switchboard, “Fly-In”

Download THE HUMAN SWITCHBOARD – “Fly-In” (from 1977 debut EP)
Download THE HUMAN SWITCHBOARD – “San Francisco Nights” (from 1977 debut EP)


Anonymous said...

NIT PICKS APPROACHING - Accurate that this great record was recorded in Cleveland w/ Thomas but after that HS was in Columbus and then opened a record store in Kent, O. Their second 7" came out on Clone (Akron), their third self-released from Kent. They played way more shows in Akron/Kent than Cleveland. Those who care about such things consider HS far more an Akron/Kent band than Cle. Trust me, there IS a difference. - SH

samantha said...

Great post, but you forgot to mention that the lead singer Bob Pfeifer is going to prison for wiretapping a woman (and admitting to witness tampering - trying to shut her up, doing speed (not surprising) getting arrested for beating one woman, putting another in the hospital. Human jerk is more like it. You can find it all on the band's website at

Anonymous said...

Samantha is obviously the brainy blonde bimbo who got herself into this whole mess all by herself - no help from anyone else - and is crying wolf all over the place - fact is, Human Switchboard is more than Bob Pfeifer, and Brainy Blond doesn't seem so smart - seems like your sob story, boo hoo, though paints a very unpretty picture of Pfeifer, doesn't make you look so good either. It really does take two to tangle.

Myrna Marcarian
Ruby on the Vine

Jeff Holly said...

Dear Myrna

Even if it were the victim who wrote that post who your ex boyfriend/band mate stalked, harassed, wiretapped, beat, demeaned, hacked and stole from (breaking and entering which I read on LA TIMES) I'd say that she has a right to be upset and hardly sounds like she got into it all by herself.

I used to listen to your band and liked you in particular (more than your ego inflated better half) but after reading you stick up for a self admitted drug addict woman beating hacker wiretapper I've lost what respect I had for you or your obviously washed up has been no name band who isn't selling anything.

Jeff Holly

Anonymous said...


Even if it were the person I read about in the news it would appear she'd have a right to be upset at the self admitted drug addict, stalker hacker wiretapper woman beating madman.

I respected your music on ROTV and HS but after reading such comments by you I've lost what respect I had for your nameless washed up hasbeen band.


J Holly

Anonymous said...


Perhaps if Bob Pfeifer had beat your face to a bloody pulp which landed you in the hospital (and on the floor knocked out cold) you'd think differently.

Good for you sticking up for the women beating felons and putting the female victims down!

Good luck on your reunion tour with the man (if u can call him that)

You disgust me.