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RETOFF, McKENZIE, BUTLER & PIERCE - Where Were You ...When The Lights Went Out

CD / BigBang4 / 1997

Emerging from isolated towns in the heartland of Illinois and known as Insomniacs during its existence (1989-1994), this combo centered around songwriter in chief / multi instrumentist BILL RETOFF and lead vocalist DAN McKENZIE., unifying to record some of the most delightful guitar-pop early this decade. A vehicule for their own compositions, with various friends lending a hand in the early days, later grew into a full a band with the addition of guitarist DAVE BUTLER and drummer ED PIERCE. This unheralded outfit performed vital, memorable jangly pop with a feel for a lost era in pop’s Golden Mile, and -more importantly- with a sensitivy that was both rare and wonderfully, refreshing sane! Unheard by the average listener, with their output confined to limited issue cassettes or a lone vinyl release, “Her Love Is Like Jade / If I’m Not Your Man” plus a handful of local gigs, the group’s sheer integrity, musical merits and unceasing pursuit of its own muse have been championed, from early on, by some of today’s most astute pop critics... Jordan Oakes from the seminal Yellow Pills (Thanks Jordan!)... John M. Borack in Goldmine... Beverly Paterson in Twist & Shake plus Hartbeat, not to mention the positive feedback from followers in Sweden, Scotland, Canada and...France. Hearing these 23 songs, you can only wonder whether at least half would have been bona fide hits in the magic decade that was 60’s pop. With the state of the music scene in more recent time, als, it’s also obvious these recordings were destined to dwell in obscurity for all eternity... Well not! “WHERE WERE YOU...WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT!” (a clever allusiobn to their old name) presents all the group’s studio material for the first time on compact disc. This includes every cut from their debut cassette album “These Are happenin’ Times”, along with its follow-up epic “Now We Can Meet The Maharishi”, linked by a track previously only available on a cassette single. Now in digital format, these tunes ring clear and sharp, catchier than a fish hook, with tight, crisp production, long a hallmark of the band. This CD is indispensable to anyone who miissed their output the first time around; or essential to those fans who have worn out their earlier tapes and 45’s.
1.Your Kind Of Love
2.Angel In A Paisley Sky
3.Cool My Jets
4.Positive Thing
5.The Other Day
6.Closer Too
7.She’s Driving Me Mod
8.Foolish I Know
9.It’s What You Do To Me
10.Good Karma
11.Wrightsville Beach ’66
12.Her Love His Like Jade
13.If I’m Not Your Man
14.My Side Of The Story
15.You’re The One I’m Talking About
16.You Passed Your Shinnin’ On To Me
17.Hearts And Minds
18.Find Your Love
19.So I Hang On
20.I’m Thankful
21.Take Me As You Like
22.Radio Memphis
23.Forever Always Everywhere
Mon disque pop/rock de l’été passé sans aucun doute! Genre pop travaillée et finement ciselée mais jamais ennuyeuse, délicate mais où on se surprend à taper du pied en entonnant le plus justement possible des refrains addictifs en diable, une réussite totale sur fond de guitares qui tricotent une somptueuse parure ensoleillée. Le groupe existait de 89 à 94 et ceci est donc malheureusement une compilation posthume. Ils étaient basés en Illinois, s’appelaient The Insomniacs, mais pour que vous ne les confondiez pas avec le trio garage/pop du New Jersey, ce CD 23 titres est sorti sous les patronymes accolés des quatre membres du groupe. Leur bio évoque les influences des Byrds ou des Monkees , on pourrait y ajouter Ben Vaughn, les Kinks, Badfinger, les Raspberries et, quand les machines sont chaudes et que le son se fait plus méchant, les Stones de Exile….(« Radio Memphis »).
Dig It – France

Ce premier CD regroupe tous les enregistrements des Insomniacs (pas ceux de New Jersy, ce qui explique qu’ils aient préférés mettre les noms de chaque membre pour éviter la confusion), parus à l’époque, entre 89 et 94, uniquement sur cassettes à l’exception d’un single. 23 titres donc qui montrent l’étendue des talents de mélodistes et de l’univers musical de ces Américains…. que ce soit dans la veine Byrds/Dylan ‘Your Kind Of ove’) ou carrément dans les envolées épiques et guitaristiques à la Neil young de ‘Cortez The Killer’ (‘Good Karma’), dans des ballades acoustiques (‘Positive Thing’) ou dans des chansons plus énergiques et tout aussi lumineuses (‘Foolish I Know’). Ecouter seulement ‘The Other day’ ou ‘If I’m Not Your Man’ pour vous convaincre de la classe des ces lascars. Je ne sais pas si, grâce à ce genre d’album, la France va enfin se ré intéresser à la vraie pop music, mais sûr qu’ailleurs où on sait encore ce que veut dire ‘faire une bonne chanson’, cette mine de pop songs va faire un carton.
Larsen – France

This is a definitive must-have for fans of Billy Blastoff, Bill Retoff, Eternal groove, or any of the other names these guys have recorded under over the past several years, either individually or in various combinations. This is where pop nugget finds its chewy center
Pallid Pilgrim – USA

WHERE WERE YOU... is a very well put-together package. The booklet contains extensive liner-notes, track-by-track annotations & a discography. This is really great music that deserves to be heard by a much wider audience. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Rock Beat Int. – USA

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