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AGENT ORANGE- Bitchin’ Summer (Posh Boy Records, USA, 1982)

Back from my round-the-world trip!

Originally, I was going to post my favorite AGENT ORANGE record and that is, of course, the legendary (and in this case, the term is fitting) “Living in Darkness” Mini-LP. I asked the producer, Robbie Fields, to come up with some memories and he in return asked me not to post “Living in Darkness” but “Bitchin’ Summer”.

I asked Robbie if he could write down what he remembers from the actual production process of this EP. The whole material, physical side of record production in the old days is something we rarely hear about, so I thought this would be interesting for a change. As far as my personal take on the music goes, you may insert the usual hyperbolism, especially regarding the two songs “Misirlou”, the Dick Dale standard (taken from “Living in Darkness” and the hardcorey “Breakdown” (an outtake from the same sessions).
Anyway, this is what Robbie has to say regarding the production of this and other Posh Boy releases (slightly edited by me). Keep in mind that Posh Boy will not physically re-press their old releases, but sell them on iTunes exclusively, so this is indeed a bit of nostalgia here.

 

«There were lots of different vinyl pressings of the e.p.. The first couple of thousands were done by hand in a shack in Hollywood by an eccentric guy called Pete Korelich, who had emigrated from Croatia in my recollection. But Pete spoke Mexican Spanish! Pete was one of these guys who collected old engineering junk and made it work. He probably owned this old tumble down building in Hollywood, with the roof not just leaking but gone in the back.
At some point, he specialized in recording Mexican bands for the then small US market but he had good stuff. In 1982, he needed a “good” studio for one of his bands and he traded record pressings with studio owner Brian Elliot. This was the type of deal that Brian loved because he immediately knew to whom he could broker the pressings … me.
As it so happened, I was pretty broke in the summer of 1982 and I needed a new release but I had max’d out my credit line at my usual pressing plant. So I called Agent Orange and told them I wanted to do an e.p. with the non LP “B” side and outtakes from the “Living In Darkness” sessions. As usual, they were not happy (they never were) but they provided me with the artwork within a few days. Meanwhile, as a selling point, I had decided to extend “Pipeline”, which we did over at Gold Star IIRC, by means of what’s called a music or tape edit. “Breakdown” had been extended already at the studio, as it was necessary to work from the 2″ tape.

I was highly sceptical about the whole deal. Korelich had a couple of functioning manual presses and spare parts for 50! But dang it, the pressings were great. And I remember later running some Social Distortion “Playpen” singles there. In fact, any re-press where we had fewer than 300 sleeves was ideal for doing there. Brian Elliot knew he would always get paid by me for studio time and now pressings and he sure wanted the Mexican musicians to return!

The 12″ turned out a great success. It was a hit in the Honolulu market with “Pipeline”. I would have done further pressings at different pressing plants once the credit ran out at Korelich. However, Pete took in a tenant in the most normal room in the building, another character called Richard Simpson, one of the unsung heroes of L. A. punk rock and early rap music.

Richard had worked for years at one of the great L.A. pressing plants, Monarch, cutting disks. He was extremely well trained and owned his own mastering rig. At an indeterminate age (he wore a shaggy wig that we never spoke about), he set up at Korelich and started mastering everyone’s records and doing tape assembling and the like. Richard had absolutely no ego … he facilitated whatever the customer wanted. He cut some wicked records, ones with monster bottom end. Most importantly, he worked cheap in his ultra low rent location. He was living out in Simi Valley in a very conservative town and yet he chose to commute into the seediest part of Hollywood and have some very strange looking customers.
He was so un-Hollywood. Just a down to earth guy. So look for the “Mastered by Richard Simpson” credit from 1983 onwards.

The Rhino CD edition was deleted 31 December 2009. It was re-mastered by them in 1992 from the original mix tapes and they prided themselves on their superior skills.»

(Robbie Fields, April 2012)

I would like to thank Robbie a lot for taking his time and giving his endorsement.

 Pipeline (extended version).mp3
Breakdown.mp3
Misirlou.mp3
Mr.Moto.mp3

13 Comments

  1. We just reduced the price of “Living In Darkness” on iTunes to just $2.99, with a similarly low price in euros.

    Same goes for the Beach Blvd comp. and CH 3’s “Skinhead Years” retrospective.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-May-12 at 18:48 | Permalink
  2. martin

    world trip? that explains a lot. I was wondering what’s up with gbm mate.

    great post as usual. should be interesting to read what the man himself has to say.

    martin.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-May-12 at 18:52 | Permalink
  3. Rivethead

    Great to have you back. And with Surf Punk too!!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-May-12 at 18:52 | Permalink
  4. lex

    MISILOU!!!!! love this song!!!!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-May-12 at 18:53 | Permalink
  5. dactyloscopic handjo

    I was worried GBM is dead. Are you on another cruise soon or can we expect more music & stories?????

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    It’s never wrong to expect!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-May-12 at 18:55 | Permalink
  6. “I would like to thank Robbie a lot for taking his time and giving his endorsement.”

    No, it is I who owe you a 1 kg Porterhouse steak dinner.

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    And a pot of fondue!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-May-12 at 18:56 | Permalink
  7. katz

    yeah, this was a 12″ one was able to find for cheap at local record shops, to which i would scoop down on a bunch of copies to which i would use for trade. classic band who wrote some really wicked tunes. i saw them a number of times back in the 80s, myself. they are still going to this day and did a show just last weekend!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 21-May-12 at 19:35 | Permalink
  8. Great band, great writing, great input from Robbie Fields…NO re-releases-iTunes ONLY…definitely not so great

    [Reply]

    Robbie Fields Reply:

    Not quite, Justin. Drastic Plastic have done a superb vinyl re-issue of Living In Darkness which admittedly only has one of the 4 tracks, Miserlou.

    So if anyone thinks the other 3 tracks justify a re-issue on vinyl, get in touch!

    [Reply]

    Posted on 22-May-12 at 00:46 | Permalink
  9. howardx

    “pipeline” was on my first punk rock tape! great post.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 22-May-12 at 16:53 | Permalink
  10. Dewey Decimal

    With the exception of Breakdown, I must say I’m more interested in Robbie’s commentary than the music. This record has always struck me as “filler,” and my mind has not changed. That is not to say it’s not perfectly fun to listen to.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 24-May-12 at 02:16 | Permalink
  11. I still have my original 12″ of this. “Breakdown” is one of my favorite songs-

    [Reply]

    Posted on 18-Jun-12 at 23:14 | Permalink
  12. Bud Miller

    Robbie Fields, what a cuntface.

    [Reply]

    Robbie Fields Reply:

    @Bud, well you got that load off its normal landing spot, your ample bosom.

    I just wish you girls would use your real names when you post your detritus.

    [Reply]

    Admin Reply:

    That’s just what I thought: Spineless tosser.

    Let me know if you want me to delete the “comment”. Or if you need details.

    [Reply]

    Joseph P. Reply:

    Meh, Keep tonguing Robbie’s anus, “Admin.” Maybe he’ll give you a cut of the royalty money he didn’t pay his bands.

    [Reply]

    Robbie Fields Reply:

    Another know it all. I have already given Erich the Admin. his cut, no rimming required. We disguised it as supporting this website. Cynical, huh? So relax, your job is safe, bitch.

    In case you want to get out of the ghetto, assuming you’re in Europe, go see the Adolescents on tour this summer. There are guys in that band that are alumni of many different Posh Boy groups. Ask Steve Soto about me and royalties.

    [Reply]

    Shaun Filley Reply:

    I have an older pal that grew up in SoCal that told me of a time he was listening to Rodney on the Roq where Rodney was relaying a message to (an apparently elusive) Red Cross over the air that they need to get in touch with Posh Boy to collect royalties they had for them.. so yeah, not too sure about the ripping people off thing. pretty impressive that a label would go to those extremes to make sure a band got their $$.

    [Reply]

    Robbie Fields Reply:

    Thank you, Shaun.

    For those of you on facebook, try and read my blog entry for 4 January 2014.

    https://www.facebook.com/robbie.fields.7

    as I mention in the blog, ex Red Cross member Ron Reyes turned down royalties this year (a few days before he dumped on Black Flag). Greg Hetson told me to forget about it last year. All in a nice way.

    As for Agent Orange, 3 out of 4 members, now receive large royalty payments on a current basis. 2 ex-members recently gave me bits of copyrights they own, yes, gave me.

    As for the anecdote about looking for Red Cross, I’m sure it happened but I never remember such things. Read what Tony of The Adolescents had to say about a similar long forgotten by me incident.

    Posted on 07-Jul-12 at 05:00 | Permalink
  13. On a constructive level :

    You may have heard about “unrecouped” bands, which is when musicians borrow money from their label(s) and generally forget about it, as the money is long spent.

    2 years ago, I announced publicly that I was wiping the slate clean of any monies owed to me by bands.

    So with any re-issues, either digital or those licensed to other labels, bands receive their share. In fact, I also announced that I would be paying out 50% of digital royalties, not the 5%-10% you may have heard about prevalent in the music industry.

    I have heard of labels simply not paying out anything from paid downloads. And I sympathise with those labels!

    You see, it costs more money at minimum wage levels to process digital royalty statements than is often received by a small label.

    My policy is to just forward the raw micropenny data to the curious musicians and reveal the crushing truth : I am not ripping them off!

    So who is writing these trollish comments? They could be basing their opinions on what they think transpired 30 years ago (Hint : Jack Grisham is not a reliable source!). They might be from groups who ripped ME off and have been rationalizing their behaviour ever since, yet I will still pay them.

    If they’re from groups, why don’t they come out in the open? Well, one reason is that they would be preaching to a highly knowledgeable choir here. For a group whose record has been out of print for 30 years, who is going to believe their claims?

    There is one artist with whom I have alternated working closely with over the years who now refuses to deposit royalty checks from me (sometimes amounting to over $10,000!) and refuses my emails.

    In the past, there has been grief from his supporters yet ample support for me from his former band mates.

    Here’s the bottom line : during the past 2 tax years, I have received gross music receipts of circa. $24,000 annually and paid out circa. 35% in royalties, leaving me $16,000 to pay for all my costs and expenses.

    That’s why I am sympathetic towards small labels who admit they don’t pay royalties.

    So how do I manage to pay out money?

    I have been living off inherited money for the past 12 years. As the money has tapered off, I have reduced my living expenses. I don’t run a car anymore (and feel much better for it!).

    Yes, I find these trollish comments hurtful; I won’t let them go unchallenged. Admin. here (Erich Keller) has disagreed with me on certain issues and I welcome enlightened discussion of the failings of the label, of which there were many.

    [Reply]

    Posted on 12-Jul-12 at 15:47 | Permalink

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