These Indiana boys first formed in high school, but the pop pantheon wasn’t treated to the Late Show’s classic—yeah, I’m sayin’ it right outta the gate—debut Portable Pop until 1980. Wanting to give a serious go at making it, they shot off to NYC in ’74 and while there cut some demos with super-producer Jack Douglas, which led to some label interest, but they held out for a better deal that, sadly, never came to fruition. Burnt by the experience they decided to go at it on their own and began putting together their self-released LP in 1978, pitched somewhere between Help! and Rubber Soul-era Fabs, with no little amount of reverence for the early Who. And what a record it is, slightly modernized to their times, but fortunately not lapsing into the realm of over-production so many fell prey to at the Portable Pop is bursting with pitch-perfect harmonies, like the Lennon/McCartney moves in opener “Take a Chance”, the maudlin jangly ballad “I Won’t Play the Clown”, and the bouncy pure pop of “What Can I Do”, all displaying a gift for melody that wasn’t lacking in any way, nor too raw an approach that would’ve hampered their rising from the realm of righteous-yet- left-behind in the dust of the New Wave—they’re just another in the list of genuine could’uh-beens.
This CD also adds an additional 4 tracks to the original running order, two alternate takes and two unreleased joints, my highlight being the alternate version of “Judy,” carrying a more country’fied Big Star’esque charge and riff than the effervescent shine of the album version. Until this much needed reissue this dynamo of a long-player has only resided in the collections of pure pop diggers and true believers, and is a true treat to have easily available again.
Grab a copy at your local store, or grab a copy of Late Show CD right here.