Galaxie 500 to start off the week. An American Indie band who were together a relatively short period of time (1987-1991) but in that few years, put together three highly regarded albums and influenced many bands who came along after them.
Guitarist Dean Wareham, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang had met at the Dalton School in New York City in 1981, but began playing together during their time as students at Harvard University. Wareham and Krukowski had formed a series of punk-influenced student bands, before Wareham returned to New York. When he returned in 1987 he and Krukowski formed a new band, with Yang joining the group on bass guitar, the new group deciding on the name Galaxie 500, after a friend’s car, a Ford Galaxie 500.
The band began playing gigs in Boston and New York City, and recorded a demo which they sent to Shimmy Disc label boss and producer Mark Kramer, who agreed to produce the band. With Kramer at the controls, the band recorded the “Tugboat” single in February 1988, and the “Oblivious” flexi-disc, and moved on to record their debut album, Today, which was released on the small Aurora label. The band toured the United Kingdom in late 1988 and in 1989, then signed to Rough Trade and released their second album, On Fire, which has been described as “lo-fi psychedelia reminiscent of Jonathan Richman being backed by The Velvet Underground”, and is considered the band’s defining moment. On Fire reached number 7 in the UK Indie Chart, and met with much critical acclaim in the United Kingdom, but was less well received by the US music press, who cited Wareham’s ‘vocal limitations’ as a weakness.
This is the first of two sessions Galaxie 500 did for John Peel, who was a fan of the group. They also made it into Peel’s Festive 50 for 1989 at Number 41.
Sadly, the band split up in the spring of 1991 after the release of their third album, This Is Our Music. Wareham, who had already moved back to New York, quit the band after a lengthy American tour.
Galaxie 500’s records were released in the US and UK on the independent Rough Trade label. When Rough Trade went bankrupt in 1991, Krukowski and Yang purchased the masters at auction, reissuing them on Rykodisc in 1996 as a box set containing all three albums and another disc of rarities.
Here’s a reminder – and why you should seek out the Rykodisc box set. Just sayin’.