Gary Wilson - Live at CBGB's DIY 45 Set
It's no secret to anyone familiar with the Weirdo Music Forever universe that Gary Wilson occupies a dear and special place in our hearts. His lifelong body of work speaks for itself, and his DIY ethos - along with that a select handful of prophetic artists like R. Stevie Moore and Jerry Solomon, among others - prefigured today's world where self-production and distribution is commonplace for artists. While virtually any release from Gary Wilson is effective as an example of his engagingly idiosyncratic music that has delighted and influenced several generations of audiences and artists over the years, his Live at CBGB's 7-inch EP stands out as a remarkable living artifact of DIY Culture.
Jarringly and delightfully weird in every way, it's a challenge to know where to begin when discussing Gary's audacious Live at CBGB's, so let's just start with the title. Contrary to what might be surmised, the EP has nothing to do with CBGB. Though Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates did indeed play at the legendary New York venue in 1978, the songs in this vinyl offering were all recorded in San Diego, California. What's more, there's nothing live about these recordings, since they were all done in a studio and home environment.
There are two variants to the EP bearing the name Live at CBGB's: One baring a pink cover, and the other a yellow cover (our copy shared here is the latter). Lastly - and significant - both versions of this DIY gem consists of 7-inch discs previously released by Gary. It's worth noting, however, that this isn't a re-release in the truest sense. The records contained in the set are the actual vintage records from those other releases, simply given new artwork and packaging by Gary and mysterious helping hands.
One 45 is is half of Gary's 1980 Invasion of Privacy double-45 EP, and the other is the 1983 This Is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown 45. If you're slightly confused, there was one more layer added to this story when Gary released Live at CBGB in 2017, which actually is a live recording of Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates at the the venue in 1979.
So, to break it down, anyone who is lucky enough to come across a yellow copy of Live at CBGB's owns a DIY cover, artwork, and notes unique to this release, the original pressing of record 2 from Invasion of Privacy, and the original pressing of the This Is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown EP. A lucky owner of the pink copy probably owns all the above as well as record 1 of Invasion of Privacy. Only the Invasion of Privacy tracks are listed on this pink version, accompanying a reference to a "bonus disc included," which is apparently the This Is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown 45.
Understandably curious about such a wonderfully befuddling release, we spoke with Gary himself in 2018 to get background to its origins.
Bobby Weirdo: Do you remember how the cover art for the Live at CBGB's EP came about?
Gary Wilson: A lot of those old covers, like Live at CBGB’s, were done with a copy machine and colored paper.
BW: You’d go into a print shop somewhere in San Diego and do it?
GW: I talked to some girl about the marketing of the record. The cover is actually part of a picture from a KRAB radio Seattle show I did in ‘81. I used that, and talked with a girl about the marketing of the record. She thought that Invasion of Privacy had a live feel to it, so in some strange way, the EPs were combined and marketed like that. It was probably not the best idea, because it confused a lot of people. Now there’s the recent release of that particular session [when Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates played at CBGB’s].
BW: When you combined the EPs, did you just take the records out of the old covers, and throw those covers away?
GW: The Wedding Gown EP was a funny one, because when they were originally pressed, they just came back in white sleeves. I had to make my own covers. Back then it was more difficult, because you had to do stuff manually, and I didn't have a computer until around 2004.
BW: Who’s the woman to whom you are referring that was involved with this release?
GW: That’s a secret.
BW: So the person that came up with the idea of combining these 45s in to a single release, creating a new name, and the cover, is a secret?
GW: Right. She’s a secret girl.
BW: There are a couple addresses for a Gary Wilson fan club on the back cover – one in San Diego and one in Endicott, New York [204 Bermond Ave.]. Are those real addresses?
GW: The Bermond Avenue address is my family home, where I was born. It’s on the original You Think You Really Know Me album as well. The other address is a little two-bedroom house where I lived in San Diego at the time.
BW: I was surprised to see Ross “Moon” Fanara credited on drums for the EP.
GW: What EP did I put that on?
BW: It looks like Wedding Gown.
GW: He was part of the crew back in Endicott. I’m not quite sure why I put that there, to tell you the truth. That EP was all me. I was playing drums, and all the instruments except on “New York Surf”, which had Gary Iacovelli on drums. He also played on “6.4 Equals Makeout” and “Chromium Bitch” on You Think You Really Know Me. I probably included Ross because he was part of the gang at the time, even though he was back in Endicott, and I was out here [in San Diego].
BW: Ross wouldn’t have done anything on Invasion of Privacy, right?
GW: No, that was Dave Haney on drums, and me.
BW: It also credits you, Carmen Putrino on guitar, Vince Rossi on bass, Frank Roma keyboards.
GW: Those are the original Blind Dates when I was living in Endicott. We’d been friends since the 8th grade, and Carmen and I went to grammar school together. I’m not sure why I put those people on there. But none of them played on the record.
BW: There are short written pieces by you on the back of the record.
GW: Yeah, those were good. There were four on the back of the original This is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown EP. I don’t remember using it on the Live at CBGB’s EP, but if I did, that was a good idea.