The Outlets – Whole New World – Live on WERS

The Outlets – Whole New World – Live on WERS

I know it was Thanksgiving Night; I think it was 1984. I had just finished having dinner with my family down in Brockton. My Aunt Mary and Uncle Don had driven me all the way back into Boston and were dropping me off in front of the Emerson College radio studios on Beacon Street. My family never understood the importance of making it to a gig on time, even IF it was a family holiday like Thanksgiving. Any truly pro musician or tech knows exactly what I’m talking about. This is what separates us not only from the amateurs, but from all of our nine to five working world friends who still don’t understand us and unfortunately never will be able to. This is who we are and this is what we do.

I had been working with a band called Boys Life for the past 3 or so years then. Their bassist Joe McCormick had recently left the band and had been almost immediately recruited by a band called The Outlets. Joe replaced previous Outlets bassist Whitey.

Now Boys Life and The Outlets had been engaged in a long lasting competition with each other. They had put out a single together back around 1980, after which things had gotten a bit touchy. They say it started when Boys Life’s singer, John Surrett, lost his girlfriend to The Outlets’ rhythm guitarist Ricky Barton. Joe was a young father and had formed a friendship with Ricky who had just fathered a baby boy with John Surrett’s ex. John always seemed to find it amusing how he had “missed that bullet.” 

Anyways, things got even weirder when Cathy Logue took over management duties for the Outlets and asked me to come on board as their temporary Sound Engineer. This did not please Boys Life. The way I saw it, Joe McCormick was my friend and I wanted to support him. I also liked The Outlet’s music quite a lot. So we did a few gigs, some actually with Boys Life, me mixing both bands on the same bill the same night. At some point later, I left Boys Life and eventually brought our roadie John Bionelli onto the crew.

So this Thanksgiving night gig was pretty interesting. WERS had just got a new board they wanted their engineer to mix them through this big new console they had just set up a new studio with. I basically steam rolled over the radio station crew telling them that >I< was The Outlet’s soundman and that was it. I blew off their big new console and set the band up through a little 12 channel Tangent board and did the mix through a set of Beyer headphones. Johnny B wasn’t with us yet, it was just me, the band, and our then roadie and friend Springa. This may not be the best quality recording I have of The Outlets, but it’s certainly one of my favorites because it captures my friend Joe singing and also shows the band’s collective off mic personality. More important, it’s a snap shot in time, a time when the Outlets and I were simply out there just having a good time together. This was back before everything got so serious, back before Springa led Boston’s Hardcore scene with his SS Decontrol , before Rick Barton co-founded The Dropkick Murphys, before I went to work for the Governor ‘s Office running sound at The Hatch Shell, and well before Johnny B went on the become Aerosmith’s Assistant Tour Manager for two decades. This was back when we were all true professionals, but were still having fun at it. This recording captures a period in my career which reminds me a LOT of what I’m seeing down here in 2013’s Austin scene, lots of talented professional musicians literally having the times of their lives. Oh yeah, this is one you might want to turn up to catch the beginning chatter. Then just let the volume stay up there. Enjoy…… Jack

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