Revisiting Squirrel Bait

Owes much to Squirrel Bait

Dexter's Cigar, the re-issues label run by the Chicago band Gastr Del Sol,

has just released remastered versions of both albums by the influential

post-punk thrashers Squirrel Bait. The releases of both the band's first,

self-titled 1985 EP and their 1987 swan song, Skag Heaven (previously

packaged together by Homestead) will contain new liner notes by former member

David Grubbs of Gastr, who along with Brian McMahon (guitar), Peter Searcy

(vocals), Ben Daughtrey (drums) and Clark Johnson (bass) made up the core of

the short-lived band.

A source at Drag City, which distributes Dexter's

Cigar, referred to the re-issues as "important historical documents" of not

just the post-punk era, but of the seeds of what has become to be known as

post-rock as well. "This band led to Slint, which led to Gastr Del Sol and

Tortoise, The For Carnation and even Palace. This is really the place to see

the roots of post-rock and it's a lot more accessible than some of the more

obscure re-issues Dexter's has done by Voice Crack and Derek Bailey. Post punk

is back and it's a lot more fun to talk about than post rock." In the new liner

notes to Skag Heaven an album of youthfully energetic

Replacements-on-cheap-speed bashing rock, Grubbs writes: "Sending a tape from

California necessitates going to California," about the last song, a cover of

the Phil Ochs songs "Tape From California." "An impossible idea. I'm not sure

that any of us had been there by the time that Skag Heaven was recorded.

I still hadn't almost ten years later. It sounded fatal...Ochs sang about it

from beyond the grave. Band we knew who visited the Western Lands sometimes

returned--unrecognizably--as stars. Starred, yes, but not for life. In

Louisville in the early eighties, oldsters who didn't want to hear about

hard-core called it 'L.A. punk'...Ten songs is an album. We hope it is disposed

of widely (these were last performances)."

And, as you might expect, both

are available on vinyl as well.