2017 has been a welcome victory lap for many of D-FW's most beloved bands from the '90s, thanks to a number of high-profile reunions. So consider the re-release of The Sound of Deep Ellum from local label Field Day Records as a shiny trophy 30 years later.
Originally released in 1987 by Island Records, the compilation featured tunes from bands we know and love today, including Reverend Horton Heat and the New Bohemians, as well as the recently reunited Buck Pets and Decadent Dub Team.
But the most exciting finds here are the unearthed gems from bands we haven't seen nor heard from in a long while, including Three on a Hill, End Over End and the Trees. Making this release even more intriguing is that this collection hasn't ever been made available as a digital download. In the three decades since its original release, these songs have lived in a sort of frozen state, only heard when someone dusts off that old LP or CD, or happens upon it on YouTube. The time capsule nature of this is thrilling -- and makes for a fitting end to a year where Deep Ellum favorites Tripping Daisy, MC 900 Foot Jesus and Cottonmouth, Texas returned for small but glorious bursts of nostalgia.
According to Rico Andradi, co-owner of Field Day Records as well as an accomplished drummer (who performed with a range of bands including local pop-punk heroes Forever the Sickest Kids), The Sound of Deep Ellum signaled the arrival of Deep Ellum as a vibrant destination for original live music.
"Back in 1987, the only way for artists and bands to book shows was if they were cover bands," he says. "You couldn't get a gig playing original music. Kim Buie (A&R/New West Records) who at the time was working for Island Records, saw that there was an energy in Deep Ellum and a lot of original talent. She pushed for the release to happen and it wasn't until afterwards that Deep Ellum took a hard turn and became a place where you could only get booked if you played original music."
None of this whimsical window dressing would be noteworthy if the record wasn't killer. And it is.
There's the reggae-tinted "Jamaican Lady" from Edie Brickell's outfit, the experimental hip-hop of Decadent Dub Team's "Six Gun" and the urgent, timeless rock of the Buck Pets "Snatch Rap" and Shallow Reign's "Paint the Flowers All Black." The sonic range of the bands featured isn't easily defined, but that's also representative of Deep Ellum throughout the late '80s, '90s and certainly today.
Such wide musical terrain makes the title of the album simultaneously misleading and spot-on.
"That variety is what makes this album so great," Andradi says. "Deep Ellum has never been confined to one specific sound or genre. There's always been an energy that lends itself to discovering something new and unexpected when you go to Deep Ellum."
"Sound of Deep Ellum" re-release show with Buck Pets; Shallow Reign and Cottonmouth, Texas is Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. at Three Links, 2704 Elm St., Dallas. $15. threelinksdeepellum.com.
'Sound of Deep Ellum' track listing
Three On A Hill - "No More Love"
Decadent Dub Team - "Six Gun"
The Buck Pets - "Snatch Rap"
Shallow Reign - "Paint the Flowers All Black"
Reverend Horton Heat - "The Devil's Chasin' Me"
The New Bohemians - "Jamaican Lady"
The Trees - "Cattlecar"
End Over End - "My Dark Earth Edge"
The Daylights - "Man O' War"
The Legendary Revelations - "Sales Tax"