“[PYLON] stands as shockingly modern and unparalleled these many years later.”
-Michael Stipe, R.E.M.
“PYLON is still my favorite Athens band, in fact, one of my favorite bands!”
-Fred Schneider, The B-52s
“All the cool kids are still diggin’ PYLON.”
-Hunter S. Jones, Author
Who can forget that immortal line from Rolling Stone magazine in the late 1980s, when Bill Berry said R.E.M. wasn’t the greatest band in the world, Pylon was. Not anyone from the southeastern U.S. who was into the alternative scene, that’s for sure. We all knew and understood the impact Pylon had on music in our region, and the influence the band held globally.
1983 was an incredible year for PYLON. Chomp, the second album from Athens GA foursome had been released on Atlanta-based DB Records. From there, they toured the country and opened a few gigs for a relatively new Irish band known as U2.
And then, without saying good-bye or leaving a note, they were gone.
Their legendary last show at the Mad Hatter in Athens, Georgia, involved a lot of dancing and howling. The band and the audience became one. The gig was recorded in an audio and video format for a PBS pilot called Athens Shows. The pilot failed and the tapes were stashed away and forgotten.
Or were they?
When PYLON’s DFA reissues hit, Chunklet CEO, and member of the PYLON Fan Club, Henry Owings, emailed the band questioning the lack of bonus material on the CDs. The fire was sparked. “My favorite PYLON is live PYLON,” said bassist Michael Lachowski. Henry agreed. An ongoing discussion ensued which led to Michael’s apartment during the New Year’s holiday of 2015. A search began for live recordings by PYLON from Athens in the early ’80s.
Eventually, the multitrack recordings of PYLON’S final performance at the Mad Hatter in 1983 were discovered. Once the tapes were remixed, the only question asked was: Why in the world did PYLON quit?
For a band whose musical legacy was two full-length albums and a handful of singles, PYLON was a live act which wasn’t overly interested in working in a studio. PYLON’s raison d’être was performing for a crowd. Now we can fully understand why.
PYLON LIVE is a double vinyl album recorded at the height of their powers, and the results are spectacular. An all-killer, no-filler set with nothing left on the cutting room floor, PYLON LIVE includes powerful versions of the PYLON canon from their first and second LPs. The elusive Party Zone (previously available only on a DB Rec comp) and their never-before-released rendition of the Batman Theme, too.
When compared to the band’s prior body of work, PYLON LIVE bookends all of it; some might even say it’s a better representation of this Athens quartet, who thrived on bouncing around on stage infinitely more than sitting in a studio.
There’s no doubt that the Athens trifecta of R.E.M., the B-52’s, and PYLON is peerless. All three bands have achieved great critical acclaim, yet only the first two had the commercial acclaim they deserved. PYLON LIVE intends to correct that.
Limited to 200 on magenta vinyl.
Limited to 200 on clear vinyl.
Unlimited on black vinyl.
“Randy Bewley and Michael Lachowski’s simple lines display untoward rhythm and melody, respectively. Curtis Crowe bangs away so obdurately it’s hard to understand why he didn’t become rich. Vanessa Briscoe Hay barks and brays whatever incantatory phrases seem called for.”
-Robert Christgau, Dean of American Rock Critics
Color photo of the band by Curtis Knapp