I have to admit that every once in a while, when I first slide out a newly purchased used record from its sleeve, I secretly hope that the record's previous owner accidentally left some weird and wonderful surprise in it--like clippings of reviews of the album or some band-related memorabilia--in addition to the original lyric sheet (which is always appreciated). In the past year or so, I've bought used LPs that contained someone's typed (on a typewriter!) and annotated lyrics for The Equators' Hot, as well as the free single that came along with the first pressing of XTC's Drums and Wires that was now in my hands.
Last week, I picked up a somewhat tattered, cut-out copy of The Untouchables' Agent Double OO Soul LP. I had bought the CD at Tower Records when the album was originally released in 1988, but never purchased the LP (I was in college, didn't have much extra money, and CDs were the special new format!). When I got around to playing the album the other day, not only did I find the vinyl to be in mint condition, but the sleeve also contained an Agent Double OO Soul comic book (which includes the songs' lyrics) and the very same promo poster that I had ordered back in 1988, which I eventually hung framed on the wall of the Moon Records store on East 10th Street (see it in the photo below). At some point in the mid-2000s, the poster was ruined--along with many other ska posters and t-shirts I had collected over the years--in a massive flood in my parents' basement. Water seeped into many of my Rubbermaid storage bins that I had been keeping there. By the time I realized what had happened a month or two later, everything was damp, rank, and moldy. I was forced to throw out bag after bag of ska history. So, I was thrilled to have another copy come into my hands all these years later.
|My favorite musician Laurel Aitken at the Moon store on 10th Street|
with The Untouchables poster on the wall in the background.
While my review of Agent Double 00 Soul might have been a bit overly positive and enthusiastic, it certainly wasn't the bomb that many deemed it to be. Like Fishbone's extraordinary Truth and Soul (which was released around the same time), Agent Double 00 Soul is poorly sequenced, burying all of the ska and reggae tracks on side two, many of which happen to be the strongest songs on the album (see "World Gone Crazy," "Cold City," "Shama Lama," "Cool Boy," "Education," and "Sudden Attack"). But, all in all, on Agent Double 00 Soul, The Untouchables had strayed too far from their brilliant and perfectly calibrated balance of Wild Child ska, soul, and r and b.
|The UT's comic book!|
Walking in the rain back up Broadway toward Union Square after the gig (we were already soaked from dancing to the UTs), Andy and I passed a construction site across the street from The Cat Club (where Moon Records' NYC Ska Live would be recorded about a year later) that had a huge, many-layered section of wheat-pasted gig posters that was starting to separate from the plywood wall in the downpour. The Untouchables' poster for their Downtown gig was on the top layer, so we liberated what must of been a three feet wide by eight feet tall section of them (with countless other posters beneath them) and somehow got it back the apartment I shared with four other Fordham students up at 125th and Broadway (where my tiny bedroom was at eye level with the elevated number 1 subway train). This giant, sagging strip of posters was propped up against one wall in my room for the rest of the semester, but ended up in the garbage when our lease was up that summer. I was moving into my first post-college apartment with a bunch of friends and my girlfriend (now wife) and this large, dirty, and unwieldy bit of music ephemera had to go; we just didn't have the space.
|My Untouchables shirt that I bought at their gig at Downtown in Manhattan on 4/29/89.|