Declaration of Independents: 30 Years Of Indie Rock
July 5th, 2010
I’ve decided to relaunch my blog by commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of Declaration of Independents, a compilation of independent label rock music that I co-executive produced with Steve Leeds, now of Sirius satellite radio. It was the only album on the label we co-owned, Ambition Records. Declaration was one of the first compilations of its type, fittingly released on July 4, 1980. We licensed 13 songs from small labels nationwide, by such artists as SVT (from San Francisco, with Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna), Bubba Lou and the Highballs (also from San Francisco), Robin Lane and the Chartbusters (Boston); Kevin Dunn (Atlanta; with a highly original electronic version of Chuck Berry’s “Nadine”); Pylon (Athens, Ga.; their cut “Cool” was co-produced by the band and Dunn); The News (Rock Springs, Wy.), Luxury (Des Moines) and Ragnar Kvaran (Ann Arbor). There were also several cuts from Washington, D.C., area artists: Razz (with Tommy Keene), Tex Rubinowitz and the late Root Boy Slim; and two from Springfield, Mo., Jim Wunderle and D. Clinton (Donnie) Thompson, one of the most phenomenal roots-rock guitarists, then and now. It was distributed in the UK by Stiff Records, then at or near the height of its fame. The amazing cover art (you can get a basic idea of it from a 2008 Wilfully Obscureblog post) was by Steve Byram and David Gambale. The musician associated with the LP who arguably became most successful, Ben Vaughn, didn’t even play on it. He designed Ambition Records’ logo, in his other capacity at the time as a graphic designer. Steve Leeds, Ben and I remain friends, but I’ve lost touch with most of the artists, and would love to hear from them, if any see this post. And if you enjoyed the album, it would be great to hear from you.
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