Archive for the ‘Promise Ring’ Category

B Is For Bethlehem

B is for Bethlehem – The Promise Ring

Nothing Feels Good by the Promise Ring was the first record i ever owned, and no matter how much time and experience try to correct me, it will always be as special for me as one’s first ever record should be. 1998, $10 at Utopia, i bought it because of an ad in the back of a Thrasher magazine and i liked the picture on the cover. I’m actually surprised at how much i liked it back then, and how instant it was.

It was the only record of its kind i would own for a few years more, so it is not as though i had a jump on anything. There were many regretful musical choices between this and the more determined discrimination that has kept with me for over a decade now. So for a while it remained that one anomalous thing that i could go to for a different feeling, a different need of music.

As straightforward as it now seems, at the time it was like nothing i had ever heard. There was a beauty, an eloquence, a substance, a magnitude about it that i simply did not know could exist in music. Soft, tempered, yet illogical and improper. More than anything, it was the lyrics that got me most. Davey von Bohlen wrote what seemed at the time the most amazing, sublime, cultivated and evocative words, but probably were just stream of conscious pourings on observations or private concerns, attempts to tap into the involved emo vision and construct the prettiness that was expected. They work. The margins of my History and English books attest to that.

There was one thing, however – something i wouldn’t realise until many years listening to someone else’s copy. This record i loved, its sound and affect imprinted on me permanently, my copy, its entire B-side was warped and had been since i had bought it all those years ago. Maybe there was a reason it was only ten dollars. What i thought was a sound design – the chimeyness of the guitars moving back and forth between proper pitch – turned out to be a manufacturing or storage error. It sounds like they are playing while constantly fiddling with the tremolo arm – a mid-western My Bloody Valentine. The songs on the second side, of which B is for Bethlehem is one, have retained in my mind that aberrance making it is so weird to listen to the “correct” versions.

Here is that correct version. This is a complete misrepresentation of what is in my head. The more i listen to it, though, the more i find my copy unplayable.

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