Taking the early ’80s L.A. club scene by storm, the Textones were respected by those in the know for both their song craft and musicianship, as well as for their groundbreaking hybrid of new wave and what would one day become known as Americana. On May 26, 2015, Omnivore Recordings will reissue expanded editions of the band’s first two albums, Midnight Mission and Cedar Creek.
The Textones released an EP in the U.K. and a single in the U.S. But it was after singer/guitarist Carla Olson brought in guitarist George Callins, multi-instrumentalist Tom Junior Morgan, bassist Joe Read, and former Dwight Twilley Band member Phil Seymour on drums to the lineup that the magic truly happened.
Signing to Danny Goldberg’s Gold Mountain label, the Textones’ debut album, Midnight Mission, encompassed everything they’d done, and took it a step further. Produced by Barry Goldberg and Brad Gilderman, and featuring contributions from Gene Clark, Ry Cooder, and Don Henley, Midnight Mission was a mix of rock, blues, and country that captured the band’s live energy. After Olson appeared in Bob Dylan’s “Sweeheart Like You” video, he offered up an unreleased song, “Clean Cut Kid,” which blended perfectly with the band’s originals.
This reissue features five bonus tracks — three songs recorded for the film Sylvester, as well as a two previously unissued live cuts from their performance on Rock of the 80’s, recorded in 1984 at the Palace in Hollywood.
Robert Hilburn wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Olson, a lanky singer and songwriter moves about the stage with the sensual confidence of Tom Petty … Midnight Mission is a refreshing blend of American rock purity and clear eyes commentary …”
Echoed Mikal Gilmore in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner: “A roaring and thoughtful delight. Workingman populism and Rolling Stones-style rave-ups … Like Bruce Springsteen, Olson took an unsparing look at the dissolution of the American Dream and newly resolved. Listening to her, so did I.”
It would be three years before the Textones followed up their acclaimed debut, Midnight Mission. But, it was well worth the wait.
Cedar Creek appeared in 1987 on a new label, Enigma Records, and Carla Olson, George Callins, Joe Read, and Tom Junior Morgan were joined by new drummer Rick Hemmert.
Produced this time by Michael Stone and the band, Cedar Creek features nine originals, including a co-write with original Textone (and Go-Go’s member) Kathy Valentine, who left the group in 1981 to find fame with the Go-Go’s. And, much like its predecessor, legendary contributors like future Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famers Ian McLagan and Howie Epstein make appearances.
John Fogerty said of the song “No Love in You” (three versions of which are included amongst the two reissues): “Not only is ‘No Love in You’ my favorite [song] of 1984 but I always look forward to driving somewhere so I can listen to it four or five times.”
In addition to the original album the oft-bootlegged 1987 performance from the Catalyst in Santa Cruz gets an official release. The blistering eight-track set features songs from both of the band’s albums. According to Olson in the new liner notes, “I don’t wag my tail much about this, but the Catalyst show is one of the best examples of how well I can sing when it all works. It’s some of the best singing I’ve ever done.”
Olson is excited to have this music out there once again: “As the sticker on the original release of Cedar Creek announced, ‘Rock With Roots, the great Rolling Stones album the Stones never recorded.’ That kind of high praise was unexpected, especially in light of the similar response Midnight Mission received and its middling commercial success. It further stated, ‘Take a pinch of Austin, Texas, a dash of L.A., mix in commanding vocals and crackling guitars and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a classic album.’ We were ahead of our time or just didn’t get the breaks needed? An artist never knows. What I do know is that when the Textones played together we created a musical fabric never far from our many influences and diverse backgrounds and that the connection we felt between us was one of the joy of entertaining and the hopefulness of our music. We are glad the music is being made available again especially with the live set that we’ve added to Cedar Creek. We were one hell of a rock ’n’ roll band.”
Midnight Mission track listing:
1. Standing in the Line
2. Hands of the Working Man
3. No Love in You
5. Number One Is to Survive
6. Midnight Mission
7. Upset Me
8. Luck Don’t Last Forever
9. Clean Cut Kid
10. See the Light
11. It’s Okay
12. Just a Matter of Time
13. Number One Is to Survive (Alternate Version)
15. No Love in You (Live)
Cedar Creek track listing:
1. Not Afraid
2. Every Angel in Heaven
3. Another Soul Searcher
4. One Love
6. Gotta Get Back Home
7. You Can Run
8. Cedar Creek
9. We Can Laugh About It
Bonus Live Set Recored at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz, Ca, 11/20/1987:
10. Gotta Get Back Home
11. Not Afraid
12. No Love in You
13. You Can Run
15. Upset Me
16. Every Angel in Heaven
17. Standing in the Line