August 25, 2006

Sub Pop Singles Club retrospective

From November 1988 through December 1993, and then again from April 1998 until its final permanent (*) demise in February 2002, the Sub Pop Singles Club (of the famed Seattle independent record label) offered its subscribers some awesomely rare gems on a monthly basis by mail.

If you were musically aware enough to be a member of the Sub Pop Singles Club, you would have gotten a 7″ record every month with two or three songs from someone on Sub Pop’s roster, which has hosted some of my all-time favorite bands. I remember once on a college-scouting trip to Seattle how I sought out the Sub Pop record store and stood there feeling like I was in my own personal Mecca. Picture the sound of angels singing, like in the movies, with me shrouded in golden light, surrounded on all sides by Polaroid pictures of the patron saints of rock. It was a high point of my teen existence, and I went home loaded with great music (some of it possibly on cassette tapes).



I found this eloquent description on The Ratio of the allure of the Sub Pop Singles Club. It encapsulates why this was such a cool concept and why I wanted to write about it today:

“The concept of the Singles Club occupies an exalted position in my imagination, an altar at which I often pause to reflect on its multifarious beneficences.

…To the music snob, it promises to fulfill the fantasy of being repeatedly introduced to completely mindblowing songs by completely unknown bands.

To the parcel enthusiast whose aesthetic sensibility is entirely bound up in the impractical, it assures the sublime and elegant monthly delivery of a brown cardboard sleeve in which is concealed a 7″ disc of coloured vinyl that must be spun at 45 RPM and demands that its listener get up from his or her seat every two minutes to flip it over.

A 7″ from a singles club is the antithesis of a CD bought at HMV or an iTunes download. It is tactile, scarce, secret, and beautiful.”





To give you a sense of the offerings from the Singles Club, the first three 7″s were Nirvana, Mudhoney & Sonic Youth, and The Flaming Lips. Yep, and it all progressed up-and-up from there, with some of the final offerings being from groups like Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse and The White Stripes. In retrospect, I don’t know why I never joined this club (maybe because I was 9 when the club started? and then a poor high school student for the second round? or maybe I didn’t have a record player?), but here are some examples of the cool 7″s that I would now have if I had been a member from the beginning:

Update 11/12/06: COMPLETE ZIP FILE re-upped

Nirvana-Love-Buzz---Origi-10820NOVEMBER 1988
Love Buzz – Nirvana
Big Cheese – Nirvana














Sonic Youth Touch Me I'm SickDECEMBER 1998
Touch Me I’m Sick – Sonic Youth covering Mudhoney
Halloween – Mudhoney covering Sonic Youth











Flaming Lips strychnineJANUARY 1989
Strychnine / What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding – The Flaming Lips

Drug Machine – The Flaming Lips










FugaziDECEMBER 1989
Joe #1 – Fugazi

Break-In – Fugazi
Song #1 – Fugazi












L7 ShoveJANUARY 1990
Shove – L7

Packin’ A Rod – L7














Babes in ToylandMAY 1990
House – Babes In Toyland

Arriba – Babes in Toyland














Rollins BandJULY 1990
Earache My Eye – Rollins Band

“You Know Me” – Rollins Band (don’t have)














Rev Horton HeatDECEMBER 1990
Psychobilly Freakout – The Reverend Horton Heat
Baby You Know Who – The Reverend Horton Heat










Shonen KnifeAPRIL 1991
Neon Zebra – Shonen Knife
Bear Up Bison – Shonen Knife














Urge OverkillMAY 1991
(Now That’s) The Barclords – Urge Overkill

What’s This Generation – Urge Overkill










SY Alice CooperJUNE 1991
Alice Cooper Tribute
Is It My Body – Sonic Youth
(and 3 other bands/songs)












Jon SpencerDECEMBER 1992
Big Yule Log Boogie – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

My Christmas Wish – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion










Jesus Mary ChainAPRIL 1998
Birthday – The Jesus & Mary Chain

Hide Myself – The Jesus & Mary Chain












Modest MouseMAY 1998
Never Ending Math Equation – Modest Mouse

Workin’ on Leavin’ the Livin’ – Modest Mouse










Ron SexsmithSEPTEMBER 1998
“You Alone” – Ron Sexsmith (don’t have)
We’ll Manage – Ron Sexsmith














Get Up KidsFEBRUARY 1999
Ten Minutes – The Get Up Kids
Anne Arbour – The Get Up Kids














Bonnie Prince BillyJUNE 1999
Let’s Start A Family – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
A Whorehouse Is Any House – Bonnie “Prince” Billy










Pedro the LionJULY 1999
Song A – Pedro The Lion

Song B – Pedro The Lion














Mudhoney Butterfly StrokeNOVEMBER 1999
Butterfly Stroke – Mudhoney
Editions of You – Mudhoney














DCDFDMARCH 2000
Underwater – Death Cab For Cutie
The Army Corps of Architects – Death Cab For Cutie












White StripesDECEMBER 2000
Party of Special Things To Do – The White Stripes
China Pig – The White Stripes
Ashtray Heart – The White Stripes










Bright EyesMARCH 2001
I Will Be Grateful For This Day. I Will Be Grateful For Each Day To Come – Bright Eyes
When The Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under The Glass Again – Bright Eyes







J MascisSEPTEMBER 2001
Leaving On A Jet Plane – J Mascis
Too Hard – J Mascis














Mtn GoatsNOVEMBER 2001
Jam Eater Blues – The Mountain Goats
Straight Six – The Mountain Goats
Store – The Mountain Goats










IandWMARCH 2002
Call Your Boys – Iron & Wine
Dearest Forsaken – Iron & Wine
















Update: An impressively complete Sub Pop Singles Discography is available here.



Other ones I wanted to hear but couldn’t find (let me know if you can help!):
JANUARY 1991: Nirvana — “Candy” & “Molly’s Lips” (live)
MARCH 1993: Dead Moon – “Dirty Noise” & “Dark Deception”
JULY 1998: Luna - “Everybody’s Talkin’” & “Fuzzy Wuzzy (demo)”
SEPTEMBER 1998: Ron Sexsmith — “You Alone”
APRIL 1999: Beachwood Sparks — “Midsummer Daydream” & “Windows 65″
SEPT 1999: Crooked Fingers – “Atchafalayan Death March” & “Juliette”
DEC 2001: Carissa’s Wierd – “You Should Be Hated Here” & “Suedehead” (Morrissey)



At the time of this posting, there are a dwindling number of leftover singles available to purchase on the Sup Pop site. When I strike it wildly rich (and have, like, $4500 to spare), I am going to buy me the complete back catalog of these singles on eBay or something (to complement the complete set of vinyl Pearl Jam Christmas singles that I have and am most proud of).

Oh, and PS – I have a record player now. Thank goodness.

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26 Comments »

  • Oh man, did I really miss this? I really wanted that Ron Sexsmith song.

    Anonymous — September 13, 2006 @ 11:28 pm

  • I didn’t take em down! Maybe it is a server problem – Retry later?

    heather — September 14, 2006 @ 12:45 am

  • You are like an anthropolgist who found an ancient Egyptian treasure from which we all benefit. Great find!

    I thought I was never going to be able to find the album art to the DCfC song “Underwater”.

    danimal — September 14, 2006 @ 10:17 am

  • You are awesome.

    Thanks!!!

    Anonymous — September 18, 2006 @ 9:35 pm

  • Like the Jet Plane version…

    In 1986-87 The band I played guitar in: “The Masterbeats” covered “Leaving On A Jet Plane” it was on a demo tape. We played it live a gazillion times.

    It was a thrashed up version…we did stuff like that. We covered “My World is Empty With Out You” and a few other cheesy 60′s pop tunes in a high thrash, ‘Mats manner.

    This was in Minneapolis in the day. 7th Street Entry, Williams Pub, the Union, Fernandos, Uptown Bar & Grill.

    got a bunch junk for free DL here:

    http://soul-amp.com

    Still thrashing…I guess…

    Brad O. — October 17, 2006 @ 11:19 am

  • awwww…the songs are gone? :(

    Anonymous — October 29, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

  • another sort of anonymos “awwww” since the songs are gone…forever? i hope not. please, would you upload them again?

    es — November 2, 2006 @ 9:07 am

  • Hey there, just discovered the site, nice stuff.

    I hate to be anal, but the version of Nirvana’s Love Buzz you have on here isn’t actually the one from the single. The single version had a sound collage as an intro. I’ve been looking for that version forever, but haven’t had any luck.

    cite:
    http://livenirvana.com/official/lovebuzz.html

    DM — January 11, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  • Thanks, DM. I actually knew that but can’t find the original either. If anyone finds it, I will gladly replace the mp3 here with the correct one. Thanks again for pointing it out -

    heather — January 11, 2007 @ 9:50 am

  • I might be going mad, but I seem to remember a Sub Pop singles club 7″ by Mercury Rev… on one side, ‘If You Want Me To Stay’ by Sly Stone, on the other a song called something like ‘The Left Handed Raygun Of Paul Sharits’… or did I dream it?

    Anonymous — February 2, 2007 @ 10:37 am

  • i was a member of the singles club for years, and still have all my singles. if you need that molly’s lips one i’ll send you a copy. great post!

    aj — February 4, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

  • Yes please aj!!!

    heather — February 5, 2007 @ 5:22 am

  • If you like the Get Up Kids, you should check out the Paper Chase…they’ve got an awesome sound unlike any other. Check them out at http://www.thepaperchase.net and see their full tour schedule as well as s ome clips of their tunes!

    gretchen — February 16, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  • Thank you…

    J — May 10, 2007 @ 12:42 am

  • Do you have the Rapeman edition of sub pop singles club? I’ve been looking for it forever. Also, thanks for posting these

    Anonymous — July 22, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

  • The zip file rocks. Thanks for the great post.

    Anonymous — October 18, 2007 @ 1:38 pm

  • i have few more singles that aren’t here..e.g.: les thugs, TAD/Pussy Galore, Lazy Cowgirls, Rapeman, Lonely Moans, Dwarves, Honeymoon Killers, The Gories, Royal Trux, Smells Like Sauced Sausages, Rocket from the crypt, Didjits, Lou Barlow, Kinski + 7inch version of Love Buzz

    bierce — January 15, 2008 @ 9:29 am

  • Come on share the wealth…
    bierce

    Can you post a link or forward to someone else to host?

    Anonymous — January 17, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  • Killer post – here’s a link to the original Nirvana Love Buzz Vinyl Single. Hope you dig it! Check out my blog over at http://blewharvest.blogspot.com/

    -blew

    blewharvest — May 29, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

  • I loved this post. I just wanted to let you know Sub Pop is starting up the club again. Kind of as a 20 anniversary thing.
    Here’s the link

    http://www.subpop.com/releases/sub_pop/misc/sub_pop_singles_club_3_0

    Aaron — July 12, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

  • Good Job! :)

    Tim — September 7, 2008 @ 11:19 am

  • Exelente trabajo de investigacion, me encanta. Que estes bien!!!!

    Fede — October 11, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  • Heather is teh tits.

    David Snusgrop — November 7, 2008 @ 11:17 am

  • The links are broken!

    Please restore it as soon as possible because it’s a public service! hehehe

    Cheers!

    Anonymous — November 28, 2008 @ 1:36 pm

  • Been looking for the Spencer songs fro a while now — opening the ZIP as I type!

    wardo — December 23, 2008 @ 6:50 am

  • […] 1990, Eric was a longstanding member of the famous Sub Pop Records’ “Singles Club,” a club that sent him a different 45 record every month from one of Sub Pop’s loud, […]

    64th Favorite Album | 100 Favorite Albums — June 16, 2016 @ 3:31 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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