Gary Wilson - In the Midnight Hour/When I Spoke of Love (1978)
We're revisiting one of our favorite early Gary Wilson releases here: the rare 1978 Wilson seven inch single that includes "In the Midnight Hour" on the A side, and "When I Spoke of Love" on the flip side. Although both of the characteristically unique and thoroughly enjoyable tracks appeared on the Forgotten Lovers (Motel, 2003) compilation in the midst of Gary's comeback era, these two cult classics in fact debuted here on this record. Apparently, there were only 500 pressed (and almost certainly far fewer exist today) so it goes without saying that we were ecstatic when we procured a copy for our growing archive. Gary sat down with us this year, confirming the limited release and giving historical background:
"It was a good little single. We probably should have done an album at that time, but that was it. I [later] found you couldn’t generate money from singles the way you could from an LP. I believe we did 500 copies, and it had a nice cover. It’s actually a record that I don’t even have a copy of, and is kind of a rare one."
Gary wrote and recorded "In the Midnight Hour" and "When I Spoke of Love" in 1978, soon after the release of his coveted You Think You Really Know Me LP (both tracks on this single - especially the former - would have sounded at home on that classic album with their unique Gary Wilson jazz-funk-experimental pop inflections). The two songs marked the beginning of Gary's decades-long "extended vacation" in San Diego, California, and he verified for us the timeline, location, and pre-production process for the work:
"I wrote those songs in 1978 after I moved to San Diego, and after You Think You Really Know Me, which was recorded in ’76, and put out in ’77. Some of the Endicott Boys - the Blind Dates - were already out here in San Diego: Joe Lunga, Butch Bottino, and Dave Haney. We were all living right off of Highway 94 and Geneva Ave. Rent was something like 90 dollars a month, and the bass player had a Revox tape recorder. I used that two-track tape recorder to write those songs. I showed the guys what to play and we rehearsed it. [Then] I recorded the Blind Dates instrumentally on one channel, figured out what I wanted to do lyrically, and developed it into those two songs."
In addition to the uncharacteristic (for Wilson) inclusion of a full band, these recordings (along with other rarities like Gary's remarkable 1980 Invasion of Privacy EP), bear the distinction of documenting an unusual "professional" studio recording by Gary, who is known the world over as a home recording and DIY pioneer. Gary explains:
"We did it in a studio. It was called Meiner's Music on El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego. They had an 8-channel studio in the back that John Hildebrand used to run, and we recorded live as a band on both of the tracks. Joe Lunga got to know the engineer before we got in there, so we got a good deal."
The compelling black and white band photo was taken by drummer Dave Haney's girlfriend at the time, apparently named Corinne. The photo location is confirmed by Gary to be at the photographer's then-home on Wabash Avenue in San Diego (the site where the band would unfortunately have their music equipment stolen later).
The "In the Midnight Hour"/"When I Spoke of Love" 45 was the third release of four by MCM Music (after the "Soul Travel/Dreams" 45 and You Think You Really Know Me LP, but before 1983's "This Is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown" 45), Gary's own creation. Gary explained the origins of the label name to us:
"MCM basically means...nothing. I just came up with that. Instead of MGM, why not MCM? Some people did say [it stood for] "Most Creative Music", and that was probably a thought back then too.
Nearly 40 years later, these two gems are are as delightful to listen to as ever, and an integral part of the evolving Gary Wilson narrative. It's a privilege to share this most creative music with you here, as always, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.