Awhile back, you may recall my writing about the band Negative Element, that my friend Keith Lyons happened to play in. They were featured in a “Selection from the Punk Vault”. You may also recall my writing about finding the test pressing for that record as well and posting some pix of it. Well, there was still one variation that was missing to complete the Negative Element collection and I’m happy to report that I finally have obtained it thanks to Light Dave.
Many years ago, I’m talking probably 12 or so, Light Dave called me up after a trip to Reckless Records and told me of his finding the Negative Element single there used, and that it had a hand-colored sleeve that had an insert with it saying it was limited to 25 copies. I had never heard of this, and since I hadn’t seen Keith in years, I was unable to ask him of its origin. For years I pestered Light Dave to trade it to me or sell it and he always refused. I always kept an eye out in my travels for one but never was able to turn one up. I finally asked Keith about it a couple years ago and he didn’t have one of his own either and said that perhaps Barry Stepe might have one and he’d ask, but I never got an answer on that.
Well, probably 10 years since seeing Light Dave last, running into him at the Slint show on Friday got us to talking and the subject of this record came up, and instead of his refusing to part with it, he said that not only was he sure he still had it over at his dad’s house, but that he’d part with it! So thanks to him, I now have Negative Element completion! Thank you Light Dave!
And here are pictures of the sleeve, handwritten insert by Tom of the band who made it, and the lyric sheet that was also colored (all with crayons!).
Handwritten insert describing the colored sleeve
I vaguely remember Barry, Chopper and Tom coming over for rehearsal (circa 1982) and showing me the colored copies. Like anything we did as Negative Element, it had some prophetic insight into Midwestern Suburbia. You have to realize that where we all lived was farmland when our parents moved there and then it quickly developed into the mega-developments of the 70’s and 80’s. Chopper was always a card. The late great Timmy Yohanon wrote a review about Chopper calling him childish and immature – and appropriately enough, Chopper wrote him back in crayon ‘I’m not a baby.’ The other great story about the Chopper is the time that he sent Jay Younger (Mr. Jay Zombie to you – who had just moved to NY because ROTA had kicked out of the band) an envelope filled with dingle-berries. I can remember when Jay came back to visit how pissed he was at Chopper. You have to also keep in mind that we were all just 15 or 16 years old. When I think back about this apocalyptic fun we had, I do miss my childhood. If anybody from Negative Element is reading this, then please send me a letter. I’m here in China and I could use a laugh or two reminiscing about some of the fun we had. If it’s Barry, then talk to Mike, I sent him the tape so he can send you a remastered DVD of the Negative Element show.
Keith probably forgot but myself and Dave Lyons (keith’s brother) also colored about 20 copies of the single. Keith was asked by the folks who used to work at Rose Records in Downers Grove for some autographed copies. Keith was busy and asked Dave and I to color and autograph some copies for him.
I was a roommate of Dave Lyons (Keith’s brother) during college and a friend of both Keith and Chris Phelan (above letter) in the 80s and today. I don’t own (unfortunately) the record, and it has been over twenty years since I have heard the original, but I can still quote the lines to “Elmer Fudd” and my daughters cannot put any pastry in the oven without a rendition of “Dough Boy.”
To all the punks in Downers Grove in the early 80s: You are true originals. I came from the Netherlands of Connecticut and left a better man. I remember Dave throwing an overcoat over my clothes for my first show in Chicago in ‘83. I remember the great shows in the Lyons backyard in Downers Grove during the 4th of July. I remember betting Keith $5 to take off all his clothes at a party in Green Bay and Dave (his brother) mentioning that I had overpaid, for Keith would have done it for nothing. He did, but I still bucked up. In short, a truly great time with a bunch of great people. Thanks for letting me fit in.