Final Material Issue Album To Be Released

Gone but not forgotten.

The final recordings by Chicago's Material Issue, Telecommando

Americano, will be released in late May. The album, recorded between

mid-1995 and early-1996, was finished except for the mixing before band leader

Jim Ellison' took his own life on June 21, 1996.

Anybody who saw the

Chicago band Material Issue in their power-popping prime could tell you that

the group's Cheap Trick-inspired hard pop sound and attitude was ten times

bigger than their album sales or notoriety. Material Issue may not have been

the brightest stars on the fertile early '90s Chicago scene, but they played

and acted like it and a handful of their catchiest songs ("Valerie Loves Me,"

"Diane," "Kim the Waitress") could have belonged to a world-renowned band.

At the time of his death, Ellison and company had already recorded the

follow-up to 1994's Freak City Soundtrack, although they were without a

record deal. Now Rykodisc has compiled the final 11 Material Issue songs with

six songs from the band's first EP, 1987's Material Issue EP for release

on Telecommando Americano (May 20). The EP was previously available only

on hard-to-find vinyl.

Ironically, the period just prior to his death was

one of the busiest for Ellison. He had recorded an excellent song with Liz

Phair entitled "Rocket Boy," which was on the Stealing Beauty soundtrack

and had been collaborating with her on more material. He'd also been jamming

with an all-star group called the Wild Bunch, which included Chip Z'nuff (Enuff

'Z Nuff), Gilby Clark of G'N'R, former Psychedelic Furs drummer Mars Williams,

Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens, and Blondie drummer Clem Burke.

According

to the Rykodisc source, the two remaining members of MI have moved on and begun

work with several other bands. Drummer Mike Zelenko has been playing with Scat

Records' Specula, in addition to playing live with the Chicago band Hummer.

Bassist Ted Ansani has also been playing live with Hummer and has joined

Chicago's Teenage Frames, who's punk/pop stylings are at times even more

infectious than MI's. Fans of the St. Louis power pop 'zine Yellow Pills

might want to check out the latest YP compilation (early June) on Big Deal

Records, which features an MI cover of the Grass Roots' "A Million

Years."