From the Vault: Lung Leg

One of my Christmas presents to myself was the acquisition of a new USB turntable. I haven’t had a record player in several years, and I missed it terribly. Yes, I am one of those snobs who thinks vinyl sounds better than other formats. I have no problem listening to CDs or MP3s, but every now and again, I enjoy hearing music played in this format. I don’t think it’s old fashioned so much as decadent, an indulgent treat like sipping a 12-year-old scotch.

Other than aesthetics and my own pretentiousness, the reason I wanted a record player again was to hear some stuff that I only have on vinyl and which has never been released in other formats. So within minutes of popping it out of the box and setting it up, the very first thing I listened to was “Krayola,” Lung Leg’s portion of a split 7″ from 1998. I remembered adoring this song, and the passage of time didn’t diminish that love at all.

Lung Leg–a quartet of Scottish lasses–made their only American tour around this time as the opening act for The Make-Up. It must have been the only Make-Up tours I didn’t see, because I definitely never saw Lung Leg, and I have a uselessly encyclopedic memory for Bands I Saw and What Bands Opened For Them. I used to catch the Make-Up live at every conceivable opportunity, both because they were an amazing live band and to atone for being to young to ever see Nation of Ulysses live. I also purchased all of their singles, of which there were roughly eight billion (all later collected on I Want Some).

The two bands collaborated on a split 7″ around the time of their tour together. The Make-Up’s side (“Pow to the People”) was quality, of course, but the Lung Leg portion blew me away. The driving beat and insistent guitars, contrasted with vocals that are almost whispered, the killer fadeout that leaves you wanting more…perfect in every way.

Since I loved this song so much, I went out and bought the only other Lung Leg release available at the time, Hello Sir, a collection of two early EPs. I was profoundly disappointed, because it was nothing like “Krayola” in style or substance. It sounded somewhere equidistant from Beat Happening and Shonen Knife. At the time, I found it angular, silly, and amateurish. After one listen, I tucked it away in my record collection, where it stayed untouched for well over a decade.

Listening to that compilation again after all these years, my opinion has softened considerably. The songs are quite enjoyable for what they are; I was mostly mad because of what I expected them to be. I also recently acquired Lung Leg’s only LP, Maid to Minx, and found it eminently listenable. The production is considerably better than that of the EPs, and there are a few glimpses of what I liked so much about “Krayola,” particularly the title track.

Nothing quite measured up to “Krayola,” however, which I suppose is ultimately unfair. If you can manage one masterpiece, that’s one more than most us get in our lifetimes.

Note: I suspect this version I’ve digitized may be running a tiny bit fast. So, you know, caveat emptor and all that.

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Download “Krayola” here