A new compilation album put together by former local musician/club booker/DJ Peter Aaron offers a fascinating glimpse into the earliest days of Punk and “Alternative” music in Greater Cincinnati. Outside of that, it’s an excellent document of how Midwestern outsiders absorbed and translated the new, odd and exciting music of the mid-’70s/early-’80s into their own language.
We Were Living in Cincinnati was released recently via Chicago-based HoZac Records in conjunction with the locally-based Shake It Records label. The album features 18 tracks and is available for streaming (minus a few tracks) on HoZac’s Bandcamp page, but if you’re even remotely interested, you should splurge for the vinyl version. (You can download the full album on the Bandcamp page but, as of right now, it’ll cost you $99; we’re guessing they’re trying to drive vinyl sales.)
That vinyl issue of We Were Living in Cincinnati — limited to a run of just 500 — includes a free bonus download of 15 tracks not included on the stand-alone digital version, as well as a very cool double-sided poster that features a “family tree” of the early Cincinnati scene (see below). You’ll also get Peter Aaron’s liner notes and old photos of the musicians and their show fliers if you pony up the 20 bucks for the vinyl, which is available to order through Bandcamp or at hozacrecords.com and shakeitrecords.com.
Or, of course, you can also just grab a copy in person at Shake It Records' store in Northside while they last.
We Were Living in Cincinnati includes early recordings from The Dents, Bitter Blood, The Customs, Dennis The Menace, Ed Davis Band, 11,000 Switches, Erector Set, BPA and a dozen more bands, all “rescued and remastered” from cassette and (exceptionally rare) 45 releases.
The music featured spans from 1975 to 1982 and encompasses everything from the Garage stomp of The Customs and Bitter Blood (whose “Picnic” from 1975 is the earliest cut on the album), the snotty, overdriven Punk of “Nosedive” by BEEF and The Dents’ analog-synth-injected “Sleeping Around” to 11,000 Switches’ evocative, jittery Art Punk on “Drinking Elvis Wine” (which contains the LP’s title phrase) and Qi-Zz’s fantastic Post Punk nugget “New Baby,” which makes them sound like the kind of band that would have played on a bill with Television and Talking Heads at CBGB’s and absolutely held their own.
“We all love the incredible music from Ohio’s other more well-known punk spawning grounds, and Ohio is the Mesopotamia of Punk after all, so it’s our great pleasure to release another lesser-known corner of the state’s rich underground music history for you,” the album’s description reads, “and man is it gonna change your mind about Cincinnati.”
Check out the trailer for We Were Living in Cincinnati below.