Gary Wilson - Invasion of Privacy (1980)
Gary Wilson released the Invasion of Privacy EP via MCP (Michael Coyne Productions) in 1980, just three years after the legendary You Think You Really Know Me album. This crucial part of the Gary Wilson story is often overlooked, and the conventional narrative is that Wilson immediately went underground after the release of You Think You Really Know Me. In fact, Gary released not only this four-track gem, but also important DIY offerings like the original pressing of Forgotten Lovers and classic GW singles. We decided it's time to revisit this 7 inch bit of vinyl magic, aided by Gary's own insights.
Start with: "Debbie Knows"
Why it’s worth revisiting: Invasion of Privacy delightfully demonstrates that Gary Wilson was active between You Think You Really Know Me and the later "rediscovery" era, which included the documentary, re-releases, and classic Stonesthrow Records album, Mary Had Brown Hair.
The EP's lead track "Debbie Knows" is worth the price of admission, with its cinematic guitar theme and a hooky chorus that is notable for arguably being the only perceptible nod Wilson ever gave to one of his musical heroes, Dion. Though Wilson makes no overt references to the teen idol of yesteryear, the chord changes and melody would feel right at home on a Dion track. Gary shared that although Invasion of Privacy marked the official release of the song, it had been available in extremely limited supply earlier:
"'Debbie Knows' also appeared on the version of Forgotten Lovers that I put out on vinyl myself. I was living on 30th Street in what’s now called South Park in San Diego, and it was recorded there on an 8 track I was renting. I printed up the covers myself -- mimeographed and glued them together."
The dreamy funk of "You Were The First" follows, which is a track that Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates had been working up in prior months, but never recorded in a studio. Gary remembers:
"It was recorded live at CBGB in ’79 actually, but at that time I still didn’t have the words correct, so it’s not official. By the 1980 version, it was closer to what I wanted."
he EP's b-side contains two reworking of classic Gary Wilson songs "Cindy" and "Chromium Bitch", both of which appeared three years earlier on You Think You Really Know Me. Besides added personnel (drums provided by Dave Haney, and backing vocals on all tracks except "Chromium Bitch" by Lori Bolda), these versions are notable for what Wilson describes as a "live sound".
Additional insight from Gary:
On the studio:
"It was called Circle Sound – a real good studio. I remember they imported a mixer from one of the big famous studios in England. There was a separate ballroom attached for showcasing, and they could also record there. It was one of the more professional studios in San Diego at the time."
On the EP’s promotion:
"For a whole year, there was a San Diego music paper called Kicks, and Michael Coyne would put full-page and two-page ads for the EP in the ‘zine. He was putting a lot of money into it. Capitol Records was going to distribute it, but in the end the deal was squashed."
On the EP cover:
"The photographer Thomas Arnold did the Kicks magazine photos. They did all the rock ‘n roll music in San Diego at the time. Kim Fowley came down to San Diego to scout bands, and was hooked up with Kicks. The photos were shot in the bathroom of UCSD hospital, because we like the checkered backdrop and my girlfriend at the time, Bernadette, worked there."
Happy listening, weirdos!