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)