(low-fi torch ballads and lab rat traps)

Holy sh*t, it's like my high school yearbook! Ghosts of old faces and sensory assaults from the distant past; a young Hoosier inhaling the filth and communal insanity of Los Angeles, the stench of a twice-daily RTD bus ride, and exhaling escapist, 200-second guitar-pop artforms. Such were the early times.

So many people contributed to this to whom I am eternally grateful. The first solo sessions that yielded "The Grip" and "Telephone" were through the kindness of Sonny Paul, then a co-worker at Tower Records in West Hollywood. At the time his claim to fame was as a former arranger/band member for Geno Washington. Sonny had a TEAC 4-track and I didn't. I bought the tape and the beer, he played snappy drums and mixed it. Yeah, I was under the influence of Elvis Costello at the time, but old Byrds, Buddy Holly, Big Star and the whole punk/power pop genres in late 70s-early 80s Los Angeles muscled its way into my music too. After making a zillion copies of a demo tape and distributing it to anyone I thought wouldn't tape over it, I landed a record deal with a small L.A. punk label called Pulse. They believed in my stuff, as did a small but rabid pack of fans and reviewers. Points of View was issued in late 1982. Shortly after Points of View's quiet release, Pulse faded from the picture and I continued to write more material at a frantic pace.

I played my first gig with The Long Ryders in January of 1984. I thought their first EP was killer and was introduced through mutual friends. Though several of my songs were on the subsequent three Long Ryders records, I was called, songwriting-wise, the George Harrison of the band: regulated to one or two tunes per record, and not necessarily representing my best material. I've had certain writers pumping me for something bad to say about the old band to justify why I left. Searching my heart now I find sweet memories and flashes of some of the best times of my life. For three and a half years it was great but as their bright light began to dim, I hooked up with my old compadre Jack Waterson and began recording The Upper Hand and a bunch of my songs with emphasis on real-sounding intensity as opposed to precalculated chainsaw guitar commerciality. Those tracks were recorded at my old friend Larry Stutzman's studio. Larry and I were in a 70s band called Magi. If it wasn't for Larry, I never would have spent nearly ten years in California.

In addition to solo stuff my post-Long Ryder days were spent playing bass for Chris Cacavas in his band Junk Yard Love and producing Jack Waterson's Whose Dog release. I was also the standup bassist for Gene Clark of The Byrds for a couple of gigs. That was an honor I cherish to this day.

Despite all this fun, the urban corrosion of L.A. was wearing on me, so I bailed back to Indiana. There Scott Allen played drums on my Last Night release and, as his time allowed, let me use his studio to slowly finish it. By slowly, I mean excruciatingly so. Nearly two years passed before Last Night could be completed, and then cassettes with rough mixes that were screwed up but powerful sounding were the result. I also had a few polite, clean mixes but they were not nearly as involving. I'll always take low-fi but intense over neat and safe.

As this is written I'm in the process of going through boxes of old cassettes, reels and vinyl. I have no idea yet on the final tracks and sequence of this release. This disk's sole raison d'etre is the demand for the reissue of my work in the Eighties. Funny how that works. I've never been trendy, and the last thing that motivates me is to desire to sound current for the sake of it. The happy result of non-trendiness is that people tell me my stuff doesn't age. That is high praise. I'd much rather focus on writing great songs and making the best releases I can, rather than being just flavor of the month. This will probably never sell a million, nor am I likely to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But what is striking to me is the genuine love that you folks have for my music. This, then, is my gift to you. Enjoy.

Tom Stevens
(the artist formerly known as Bingo)
Somewhere in Indiana, 1996

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