About ten years ago, I was sorting through the marked-down LPs at my favorite record store (Mystery Train in Amherst) when I stumbled on an album by a band I had never heard of called The Perfect Disaster. The album was “Asylum Road” (Fire Records, 1988).
At the time, I had a firm policy of never buying records I wasn’t explicitly looking for, and I probably would have just brushed right past this one if not for a handwritten note taped to it. This particular copy had apparently belonged to WMUA, UMASS Amherst’s radio station, and the student DJ who had listened to it way back in 1989 had scrawled a review on the cover:
“Unheralded, the PERFECT DISASTER sneak up from behind the stereo and land a Top LP of ’89. Cross Peter Perrett (ENGLAND’S GLORY ONLY ONES), YO LA TENGO, & LOU REED and the result could be Asylum Road, a stellar representation of what can happen when all the correct elements of self-referential gtr. rock are filtered through angst-ridden emotionalism and drone (was that a run-on sentence or what). “Aching” gtr, fleshed out vox, totally downer lyrics + vocals, this is gorgeously depressed. This stunning endeavour [sic] lands an uppercut to the drugged up jaw of SPACEMEN 3, and blows MY BLOODY VALENTINE’S head off. Thanks to Cal Zone for forwarding this gem. PLAY.-TP
I immediately knew I had to buy this record. As weird as this description is (“drugged up jaw”, anyone?), it does a great job of capturing what college radio must have been like back then (i.e. Spacemen 3 were very much on the radar). To boot, the fact that it was handwritten and probably hadn’t been read by anyone since 1989 made me feel like I had received a intimate personal recommendation from a total stranger (a recommendation I’m now passing on to you).
This is a wonderful album—one that I’ve listened to many, many times since that day. If you’re a fan of eighties jangle pop in the vein of the Feelies, Dream Syndicate, and The Go-Betweens, you will love this record. In particular, make sure you listen to TV (Girl On Fire).
It’s shocking to me that this band isn’t better known, particularly given that Josephine Wiggs of the Breeders was their bassist. I looked around and, aside from a great fan page on Facebook, the Perfect Disaster is almost totally unrepresented on the internet. I did find one great blog post from 2010, at the bottom of which none other than Phil Parfitt (lead singer of PD) himself had commented to say that not only is he around, but that he is still writing music (!!!).
I went to the website of their label, Fire Records, but found scarcely any mention of the band. Fire Records itself is alive and kicking. I would *love* to see them issue or reissue the Perfect Disaster catalog in MP3 format. In the meantime, I’ve digitized the Perfect Disaster’s “Asylum Road.” You can listen to it here:
Needless to say, this is copyrighted material which I’m sure belongs to Fire Records. I’m providing this to the internet in the hopes that someone will hear this and realize what a great, overlooked band this was. At the first whiff of a copyright complaint I will, of course, take this down.