DLO#012 "The Past Is Like A Heart Attack" By Mike Anton
Mike Anton has been known by many names over the last few decades: "big mike bob" "manton" some just call him "brad." One thing that has been true of Mike regardless of any monicker- He is a true Original. Turning phrases which can shift from sardonic to cynical to tender at the drop of a hat. A harmonica slices through the top of the mix on many of his tunes, which since it so often caries an impressive melody, can obscure the fact that Anton is playing a perfect, rugged, but perfect guitar line at the same time. that's the Mike we know at Dead Letter Office.
Mike practically has a mountain of old four track tapes and CD-R recordings sitting in no discernible order in his basement and office at "The Bunk House" or "New Sodom Studios" depending on what name Mike is using for his house that day. He's released a couple albums on Cassette, and five full length solo CDs, all of which are out of print. He's sitting on yet another full-length solo album which has not yet even seen the light of day from 2010. These recordings date from the very end of the 1980s, the 1990s, and the last decade. As Mike and I have sorted through this chaotic archive, we've wrestled with exactly how we're going to release all this stuff. At some point, the idea of a sort of anthology came to be. Here it is.
"The Past Is Like A Heart Attack" takes its name from one of Mike's most popular and beloved songs, "Lord of the Lake." But the lyric, "Its all gone now, can't bring it back- the past is like a heart attack." takes on a new resonance with the Mike Anton we find at the end of 2012. Mike has been rocked by a series of sweeping and at times catastrophic changes- the dissolution of his marriage in 2010, taking a bullet to the face in 2011 are obvious examples, ones which Mike is probably tired of hearing about. It has had profound effects on every facet of his life. Mike has long expressed to me his desire to write a completely new cycle of songs, but that he feels encumbered by all this creative clutter- the past, constantly swarming around in piles here and there. Never sorted, never set aside. This is a sort of house cleaning. Put this out there, and move onward.
Like the scattered master recordings throughout Anton's home, this compilation selects songs in an apparent random order, bearing no loyalty to chronology, the equal representation of each record or era. Like Anton's recording history, this record is long. 18 tracks totaling nearly 80 minutes.
We find ourselves hearing Mike performing very early recordings- Songs like "Pass the glass" "The Watchman" and "Nothing to Gain" feature the rough edges, not yet honed chops, but ever ready wit, and an outsider's approach to recording and multi-tracking, a willingness to sonically explore, and stumble, sometimes into greatness, something so unique it could never be replicated. "Biker From your dreams" exemplifies this in full. Many of the early 1990s recordings have seen release as "The Detroit Auto Show" in a few iterations. However, "The Watchman" and "Nothing to Gain" seem to have never been properly released until now. "Pass the Glass" may be another unreleased gem from that time period.
We miss much of Mike's mid and late 90s recordings, partially because some of them exist only on 1/2 inch magnetic tape, and partially because better versions exist earlier or later in his career. The exceptions being "Brad Song no. 3" from the mid 1990s cassette "Greetings From the Pop Machine" unavailable since at least 1997, and "Condition: Insane" a 1999 version, done mostly to test out some new equipment, this slower arrangement lends a certain emotional resonance to the lyric which 2002's "Songs From the Parking Lot" version does not. It has never been released.
An unreleased 2002 live recording of "Dark Eyes" is included because it is a great song, and in an effort to nudge Anton to perform it more frequently. The majority of the rest of the record focuses on selections from "Songs From The Parking Lot" (2002) and "Standing in The Shadows of Poseurs" (2004). Debuting here is a 2010 recording of "I'm not From South Dakota" from his forthcoming "Jezebelle's Boudouir."
The key to understanding the selection process on this album may be in understanding that Mike has several versions of nearly every song he's written. Hearing different versions from different eras allows one to take apart both the song and its writer- and understand it within new context. Which has a certain amount of poetry to it, because Mike, in a way, tends to operate this way in day to day life. Always questioning. Looking at how things work (or more often, dysfunction) and pointing to both the wonder and the absurdity of it all. Mike is loquacious, hyperbolic, layered, generous, and intense. He is a perceiver of the utmost calibre and sensitivity, and in a sense that must keep him always at the borderlands of the sublime- A journey the man has made in a Volkswagen bus, and throughout the course of dozens upon dozens of stunningly fantastic songs, some of which are here for you now to listen to.
released November 26, 2012
All Tracks written and performed completely by Mike Anton, with the exception of a few percussion tracks as noted on the song itself.
Recorded, Mixed, and original production by Mike Anton. Mostly recorded and mixed in four-track tape. "Condition: Insane" recorded direct to digital by Mike, 1999. "Dark Eyes" recorded live by Dave Martin at Trixie's Coffee House, 2002. "I'm Not From South Dakota" recorded by Tony Coppola at CC King Studios, 2010.
This compilation produced by Kyle McBee. Cover paintings by McBee. Graphic Design by Greg Aubry.
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