“Seattle Syndrome Volume Two” Compilation

And then there was Seattle Syndrome Volume Two. Released on cassette in 1982 and vinyl in 1983, it picked up where Volume One left off, but what a difference a year makes!

Seattle Syndrome Volume Two is more new wavish than it’s predecessor, which was more transitional and a lot more punk. It also seems to feature even more obscure bands – as near as I can tell six of the 14 bands included never had an LP, EP, or a song on another compilation. Red Masque starts the pop attack on side A, and by time you get to the second song, “In Ultra-Violet” by Cinema 90, the new wave sound is in full force. The third band, Next Exit, sings about static cling, for god’s sake (<-disclaimer: “god” is intentionally lower case, as I’m not sure what god or gods you do or don’t believe in… it’s none of my business really, and I pretty much don’t care).

What do I get from you?
Nothing by static,
Static cling,
Static cling.

That’s new wave gold!!!

But there’s one reason that Seattle Syndrome Volume Two is truly important as a transitionary piece between the punk/new wave movement and grunge. And that reason shows up in the sixth song of side A. By a band named after a math teacher. Mr. Epp.

The guitarist on that track is listed as Uppin’ Arm(s). But he’s better known as Mark Arm. Who, of course, is better known as the lead singer of Mudhoney. He’s also the man “credited” with first using the term “grunge” in association with the growing Seattle music scene in an anonymous letter he wrote to a fanzine. Apocryphal? Probably. Do I care? No. It’s Mark Arm from Mudhoney, people! If you had asked me and my friends circa 1987 which Seattle grunge band would be the first to break nationally, we would have slurred, “Mudhoney!”

Get drunk,
Do something stupid,
It’s not your fault,
You’re out of control.

I’m not really sure how Mr. Epp ended up on this album – they really would fit better on Volume One, as their punk sound doesn’t really go with the new wave shenanigans on Volume Two. Fortunately, however, someone was smart enough (or dumb enough… or tasteless enough… or ahead of their time enough…) to include them, and for that we’re all fortunate.

Side B gets us back to some serious new wave action, and it’s pretty good. The most surprising track is “Bar 2000″ by 3 Swimmers, which sounds surprisingly like their contemporaries from Iceland, Þeyr. So much so that it actually stops me dead in my tracks every time I hear it. Odd. Makes me wonder if one of the Þeyr albums didn’t somehow make it’s way to Seattle, which is quite possible given that our friend Matt specifically remembers seeing a flyer insert in one of his albums in the 1980s for their band As Above…. ironic given it was one of the first Icelandic CDs we ever burned for him.

Overall there’s some decent stuff on Seattle Syndrome Volume Two, though it’s appeal is probably more for Seattle music fans than new wave fans in general. It’s an important step on the road to grunge… for better or for worse, depending on your tastes. Meaning that I, of course, love it!