By Request: Bulkhead Revisited

I recently received an e-mail from Michael who wrote:

“Alas, I arrived too late for the Bulkhead LP. For some reason I never picked it up when in Boston back in the day. Any chance of it again? I’d be happy to send along other Bulkhead I’ve got: the single, the cassette, the What Ears See tape comp (with their best song–Two different languages).”

So credit this post to Michael. Thanks Mike! Hope you enjoy it!

If there’s something that you’d like me to re-post just drop me a line. If you have some additional material you’d like to share, send it along and you’ll be credited for it.


Bulkhead - Group

Try as I might I can not find any biographical information about Bulkhead. Like so many bands they were here but briefly.

Perhaps it will be left up to someone like “Rolling Stone” magazine’s musicologist and historian David Fricke to rediscover and reintroduce the group to a larger audience.

The band consisted of Stu Q. Wamsley (bass, vocals), Tom Devaney (guitars and vocals), Peter Ryan (vocals, guitar, mouth harp) and Chris Foley (drums).

The dj s at MIT’s WMBR found room for them in their sets, playing them 19 times between 1988 and 1994. Since 1994 WMBR’s dj s have continued to play them, thought there was a six year gap.

In 1991 the group participated in WBCN’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble held at the Paradise Rock Club. Since 1979 this “battle of the bands” remains a means for New England bands to gain visibility. Over the years a veritable who’s who’s of New England rock bands that played the Rumble and then gone on to gain national exposure include:

The Dresden Dolls, The Sheila Divine, The Big Bad Bollocks, Cave-In, Piebald, The Curtain Society, The Dirt Merchants, Smackmelon, Letters to Cleo, Orangutang, Morphine, Lyres, Misson of Burma, ‘Til Tuesday, Del Fuegos, SSD, Scruffy the Cat, Gang Green, Bim Skala Bim, The Lemonheads, Eighth Route Army, Bullet LaVolta, Blake Babies, Gigolo Aunts, Green Magnet School, The Dambuilders and The Bags.

Often in contests like this the best band, in hindsight, doesn’t always win. The winner of 1991s “Rumble was Seka and the runner-up was Uncle Betty. From the 1991 “Rumble the only group that was to enjoy a “serious” music career was The Dambuilders.

So how’s the music? For the most part Bulkhead was guitars that buzz and vocals you can understand. Straight ahead rock and roll with fuzzed up 90s guitars; but not so straight forward that Dick Clark could have found a song that the kids could dance to… unless it was to pogo.

Former Bulkhead, Betwixt, Jack Frosting guitarist / vocalist Tom Devaney is now fronting the Brooklyn, NY based band Rotary Club with Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu handling both production and bass, keyboardist J. Johnson and drummer Chris Weinberg, playing a brand of music described by The Big Takeover editor Jack Rabid as

an appealing oddball acoustic folk-pop with accents of 80-year-old Americana country and blues.


Bulkhead on the Air

bulkhead on wmbr thumbnail

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles and Full-Length

“12 Degrees” (7″ Single) (Moist)
“Leaves in Virginia” (7″ Single) (Moist)
Cassette (Cassette) 1989
Gas Giants (CD) (Shimmy Disc) 1994
Plunk (CD) (Sonic Bubblegum)
“Psychic” (7″ Single) (Rockville)

Tracks Appear On:

Where’s Stanton Park? (LP) (Stanton Park Records) 1990
“Two Different Languages” What Ears See 1990
“A Dong Market” Pipeline! Live Boston Rock on WMBR (2 x CD) (Kimchee Records) 1996

“12 Degrees” – 7″ Single

12 Degrees

1. 12 Degrees (2:54)

Cassette

Playing Time: 17 minutes 46 seconds

Bulkhead Cassette

1. Do I Smell Pizza? (3:19)
2. A Dong Market (3:27)
3. Smile (so nice to see a young man … ing) (3:15)
4. Whaling Songs (4:23)
5. Death of Bil Keane (3:22)

What Ears See

Playing Time: 36 minutes 48 seconds

What Ears See

1. Sob Story – Flashback (2:35)
2. Laughing Academy – Cowboy Song (3:44)
3. Bulkhead – Two Different Languages (2:35)
4. Back Knife Spot – Discord (3:16)
5. Some Velvet Sidewalk – Hurt (3:19)
6. Vomit Launch – Useless (2:55)
7. Green Magnet School – Windshield (5:56)
8. Black Cat Bone – He’s a Narcotic (5:05)
9. Subskin Cables – Worthless (2:31)
10. High Risk Group – Right (4:52)

Plunk (1992)

1 Vote the Man
2 Jesus threw up a highway for me
3 Mike TV
4 Two Different Languages
5 Fall River
6 Heap
7 Hot for Tescher
8 Psychic
9 A Dong Market
10 Kinder
11 Mortal
12 Leaves in Virginia
13 untitled
14 untitled (Zooks)
15 untitled

Gas Giants

Playing Time: 39 minutes 13 seconds

Gas Giants

1. Digitize It (4:48)
2. Capitol Harris (3:48)
3. Bayonne. N.J. (5:09)
4. We’re Coming Over (3:07)
5. Rebecca (3:31)
6. A Direct Appeal (3:45)
7. Learning the Painless Way (3:40)
8. Working Instead (5:16)
9. Richard Burns (3:32)
10. Gas Giants (2:37)

Buy Gas Giants from Amazon.com


17 responses to “By Request: Bulkhead Revisited

  1. Thanks for the post on Bulkhead! I grew up near Boston and remember often hearing Bulkhead on WZBC and WMBR circa 1993 when their first CD Plunk was released.

    I never knew Bulkhead recorded a bunch of 12″s for Bellboy Records. Are you sure it is the same band? I had always thought they had broken up after the release of Gas Giants.

  2. This is so weird. I just played a Bulkhead song in my iTunes and decided for the hell of it to do a Yahoo! search on the band. First I found this http://www.myspace.com/bulkheadmusic myspace page with lots of good inside anecdotes and some tracks, including a video of a performance. Then I found this page. Pete’s an old friend of mine. He has two genius kids and a genius wife and they live in a little po-dunk town in PA. If a movement to bring him out of retirement is underway, I’m not sure he’ll be happy about it. Haven’t tracked down who put up the myspace page, but clearly someone who knew them well. If I had to guess, I’d say Dave Plunkett, after whom, I believe, the album Plunk! was somewhat ironically named.

  3. I’d like to thank TD for taking the time to upload Plunk. With my one cd and Michael’s and TD’s contributions it’s certainly been a more complete look at the band.

  4. Wow. Thanks for the interest in Bulkhead. Pete Ryan and I were the founding members of the group back from way back in ’88. If you’re interested in more Bulkhead music, please send me an email. I can certainly hook you up.

  5. Could anyone reupload Plunk? The link doesn’t work any more and I really want to give it a listen after having Gas Giants in heavy rotation on my iPod for the past week.

  6. Pingback: Bulkhead: Third Time is the Charm « Old Fart at Play

  7. I went to the vaults and transferred a few old Bulkhead live clips on a snowy weekend. Enjoy!

    A-Dong Market

    Mike TV

    Leaves in Virginia

    • jazzmstr,
      I’ve been remiss in not thanking yousooner for posting some Bulkhead live clips. Of all the groups I’ve posted about in the last five years I’m always amazed that Bulkhead has and still remains my most popular post. Thanks for the videos.

      • I was Bulkhead’s manager for several years, just found this post today in such a random fashion! Anyone who has a Bulkhead question, it is possible I can help. So nice to see so much posted on them. They were truly a special band.

      • I bought Bulkhead’s Gas Giants at Northampton’s former Main Street Music. Knew nothing about the band. Never heard of them, never heard any of their music, but was going through a Shimmy Disc phase & so decided to take a chance on the band. Every once in awhile I get it out & play it. Few posts over the last 5+ years of this blog have generated as much interest, discussion or general sharing as my posts on Bulkhead have. It’s unfortunate that this kind of attention didn’t come their way when they were together. One never knows, but perhaps someday, some indy record company will decide to re-issue their music. So kids if you have any questions about Bulkhead Erin’s the person to ask. Also check out his blog at http://www.rockerzine.com

  8. Great blog!
    Could anyone upload Gas Giants? Most of the links are dead but this is the only one i’ve never eard from these guys.. :)

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