Sunday, April 10, 2016

THE EMBARASSMENT – God Help Us (1990)
THE EMBARRASSMENT – Hey Day 1979-83 (1995)

Hailed as “a great, lost American band” by Robert Christgau, the Embarrassment were the midwest’s answer to the Feelies, childhood friends from Wichita, Kansas making gangly, nervous, nerdy punk rock with big guitars and arch lyrics about  English scientists, pretentious artists, sexual confusion, and the pure giddiness of being young. Bill Goffrier, John Nichols, and Brent “Woody” Giessmann played in sandboxes together and wrote songs all through school, but it wasn’t until they met Ron Klaus in 1979 that the Embarrassment took shape. Towards the end of 1983, the band decided that it was best for each member to pursue their own interests (musical and otherwise) and the group stopped functioning as a full-time project. After that, The Embarrassment assumed a near legendary status - without having ever had the opportunity to record an entire full-length album in a studio. A number of New Year's performances in Kansas kept the fire burning for both the members of the group as well as their audience. The Embos never really broke up or reformed, and they never stopped writing songs together, so it was neither unexpected nor inevitable when they got back together in 1990 to write and record God Help Us.

Bill Goffrier:   My memory of that period is that the Embarrassment were fortunate enough to do some reuniting and some playing live and writing, and then recording (which we always loved to do.) But having been apart for a while, it was not quite as natural as it had been.  But I was also really, really busy at that time with Big Dipper, and our drummer  Woody (Giessmann,)  if I recall correctly, was just coming out of the career that he had with the Del Fuegos. That experience had given him a whole different perspective, having been through this mainstream rock career and major label thing with the Del Fuegos, whereas Big Dipper was just trying to get to the next step from being a Homestead band and seemingly having a lot of momentum going.  At the same time,  the Embarrassment was taking advantage of Glenn Morrow’s nice attention and his enthusiasm, which made the whole Bar/None experience possible for us.  Glenn was eager to gather together our whole back catalog and issue an anthology, which for some reason didn’t come out until a few years later. But originally that and God Help Us were all part of the same master plan.  But by the time we were doing the Embarrassment thing full on, Big Dipper had already made the decision not to be on Bar/None, and when I think back, I realize that was probably the biggest mistake of Big Dipper’s career.  Based on what happened as a result of signing to Epic and doing the classic major label implosion disaster kind of thing. If we had come to our senses, we would have realized that Bar/None had made us a great offer. Glenn understood what we were doing and would have been supportive of just doing what we did, as opposed to what happened with Epic. I think Bar/None would have such a better job for Big Dipper, and also not have made the band feel like adapt what it did to meet some different expectations. It would have been a whole different  story. 

                                 The Embarrassment - "Immigrant Song" (1982)

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