Wednesday 27 April 2011

Rotoflex Records

We're taking detour from our usual cassette offerings to bring you a set of six slabs of vinyl that are near and dear to our hearts. In the mid-90's, garage rock sweetheart Al Charlton put his money where his mouth was and put out a string of 7-inch singles that are among some of the best to ever come out of this town.

Rotoflex was the label that Al founded, shortly after putting out the Choads' tape on the King Louie imprint. The Rotoflex roster included an assortment of garage rock. Upstarts the Parkades, two of Al's bands, and bands featuring other Calgary veterans (the Vindicators' Daaren Boreham in Pussy Monster, Tom Bagley's still-undead Forbidden Dimension and the ever-lovable Huevos Rancheros).

We remember these being released in pairs, starting with the Parkades and Pussy Monster in (we think) 1994. The next duo, Huevos Rancheros and Al's country outfit Curse of Horseflesh came out out in 1995. And it looks like the one-two punch of the Von Zippers and Forbidden Dimension was also 1995. Maybe. The seventh single in this set (which we haven't included here) was by Seattle's Boss Martians. Al tells us he had plans for lots more, but… we suspect the cash ran out. If there's one thing we've learned from other folks we've talked to over the years, it's that putting out records/tapes/CDs is a crapshoot.

Remarkably, only two of these have cover art by Tom Bagley. The Von Zippers' single is graced by art from lowbrow artist King (von) Merinuk. We note that Merinuk did the art for the poster for this year's record collector show (we tried to find a link but couldn't), which is kind of a nice little tie-in here.

Alongside these great singles, Al put on two editions of the Boat and Trailer Show, three nights of garage rock bliss that featured bands from the Rotoflex roster as well as some out-of-town delights. Year one in 1996 also brought us the Smugglers (who, word on the street is, will be reuniting for this year's Sled Island), Maow and Girl Trouble.

Year two ramped it up even more, with the Spaceshits, Jeff Connoly and Gas Huffer. We also remember at least two other Rotoflex nights with purely bands from the local stable.

There's a whole lot of garage rock goodness on these tracks. We're looking forward to the coming year and promised new releases from two of these bands (a new 7" from the Von Zippers, and a full-length from FD). But these are six amazing pieces of vinyl that we will always cherish. As Al told James Muretich in the article below, "I like to think that 30 years from now somebody will be pulling old Roto-flex singles out of a shoebox at some garage sale and going, 'Hey, this is cool,' just the way I do when I find old singles by Count Five or The Trashmen."

Get them here. And next time you see Al, give him a hug. Or at least buy him a beer.

Update! Goldurnit! We missed one record in the series! Well, actually, we missed two, but only one that counts. We knew that RF-707 was a record by Seatlle's Boss Martians, but we didn't know - until our favourite record seller in Victoria told us - that there was an RF-708, by none other than The Mants. Yep, Half Man, Half Ant, All Asshole Action. We're pleased to be able to amend history and have included this 7" in the download above.

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