From the same label that released the much lauded Mickey Newbury –American Trilogy 4CD set , Saint Cecilia Knows now brings us the collected recordings of legendary lost 1970s New York City Band, JACK RUBY. Seen and heard by just a precious few, Jack Ruby made only five studio recordings and played an equal number of gigs between 1973 and 1977. None of their music was ever released and, until now, they have existed solely as a word-of-mouth legend among peers.
They have been variously described as “the Velvet Underground in a car crash” and the “art-punk Steely Dan”. Formed in 1973 by vocalist Robin Hall, guitarist Chris Gray, multi-instrumentalist Randy Cohen, classically-trained viola player Boris (also known as Boris Policeband), and later joined by bassist George Scott (James Chance and the Contortions/8-Eyed Spy/John Cale) and new vocalist Stephen Barth, the first incarnation of Jack Ruby demoed two tracks in a Times Square recording studio in 1974; including their signature tune, the nihilistic proto-punk “Hit and Run”—sounding like some unholy blend of Raw Power-era Stooges, Velvet Underground and J.G. Ballard’s Crash.
They recorded three more tracks as a demo for Epic Records through Sly Stone’s A&R, Stephen Paley, but a record deal evaded them. In 1976, Hall and Gray reactivated Jack Ruby as a short-lived live-performing unit with George Scott on bass, that disbanded for good after a riotous show in October 1977 at Max’s Kansas City. “Hit and Run” is a two-disc set of everything Jack Ruby recorded between 1973 and 1977 (across four incarnations of the band) that should see them acknowledged as one of the most radical and brilliantly original groups to emerge from the 1970s New York City music scene.
Remastered from recently-discovered master tapes, the first disc collects all five of the band’s studio recordings, which although forty years old still sound thrillingly-urgent and modern, alongside a 1977 cassette of a band rehearsal, and a 2013 remix by producer Don Fleming. Disc two contains another side to Jack Ruby; a series of largely-electronic, avant-garde pieces from 1972 and 1974, some of the earliest extant recordings made on a Serge synthesizer. What Jack Ruby left is a remarkable legacy of recorded music—hidden for decades, now-revealed—constituting a previously-unheard secret history of the New York City music scene of the early 1970s.
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