Sunday, March 29, 2020

Anonymous - Inside The Shadow (1976) [Original US 1st Private Pressing]

Anonymous - Inside The Shadow (1976)
Original First USA Private Pressing
A Major Label ‎– AMLS 1002 (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96kHz / 24bit FLAC + full hi-res scans~

“Close to the perfect album; each element has been drawn from the best possible source, yet somehow Ron Matelic manages to fuse these massive building blocks into personal, deeply human music.” – Patrick Lundborg

It's not just good; it's great, a masterpiece. Anonymous stand out head and shoulders at the top... a record that could compete on the same level as every major label album by every major artist of the era. – Aaron Milenski

Long time top ten favorite with almost every head we know, a true classic recommended for everyone into amazing rock records of all varieties. – Light In The Attic

It is because of Patrick Lundborg's Acid Archives and Lysergia site that I (and many others) discovered this album, which has grown over the years to be one of the most well-known "unknown" records ever. While not the first person to discover or recognize this album for its greatness, Lundborg played a role in taking this and other underground albums of the '60s-'70s and posting them online for all, not just a group of knowledgeable collectors. Thanks, Patrick; I know you'll be jamming to this one on the other side. And huge thanks to my friend CF for inspiring this post!

The original front cover of Inside The Shadow, recorded and released 1976.
The central image is from a work by J. Heitzman, whose brother Tom was a friend of bassist Glenn Weaver. 

Anonymous formed primarily from the ashes of the '60s garage/psych band Sir Winston & The Commons, which released only two (both killer) period singles. After the demise of Sir Winston, the members worked playing locally and jamming with other musicians from Indianapolis, honing their craft and further developing their sound. After some years, guitarist Ron Matelic had coined a number of originals and gathered a group who mastered their performances well enough to craft Matelic's vision into an album of completely novel material.

Guitarist Ron Matelic was the
main creative force behind the band.
Travelling to Wisconsin, the (then-nameless) band birthed Inside The Shadow in friend Jim Spencer's studio, supposedly recording the entire album in one session and doing the mix a few weeks later. Tapes were sent off to a small Milwaukee manufacturing facility which produced a few hundred copies to distribute between friends as a keepsake of the band's time together. The album was credited to "Anonymous," as Matelic was afraid of coining a name which would induce prejudice about the band's sound.

The group's line-up continued to morph, and the band adopted the name J. Rider in 1977, beginning to play live gigs and further popularize their sound. More materials were recorded in 1978-1979, which were eventually released in 1996 on the OR label. These later recordings have a bit less root in the late-1960s sound, but they are still very good. The tracks recorded include an alternate version of Anonymous' "We Got More," which some even prefer to the 1976 original.

While never quite garnering the popular attention they deserved, the band has received high acclaim among international collecting circles since the 1980s. Ron Matelic and drummer John Medvescek continue to play with J. Rider bassist Grey Reynolds and guitarist Bill Kossmann in local Indy group The DoorJams, now with a more hard/southern rock tinge. It continues to amaze these musicians that they created what some have now called the best album of its kind. 

Later incarnation of Anonymous / early J. Rider proudly displaying their album.
(L to R): Ronnie Matelic, John Medvescek, Greg Reynolds, Justin Garriott. [Not pictured: Marsha Rollings, Glenn Weaver]

Indeed, the "Lama" was not the only old head to testify to this album's greatness. It seems that every record collector who has been in this game for 40+ years seems to have this album among their top favorites. In fact, more than one record dealer has told me its one of their best-loved albums. I'll be the first to admit, this initially baffled me. Anonymous, really? Upon my first listening to a reissue CD some years ago, I completely blew it off  I thought it sounded like an unimpressive attempt at Fleetwood Mac-inspired '70s hard-rock. But after a few forced relistens, I realized how wrong I was.

You see, some albums are "growers." These are records that don't catch you on first listen, but as you enjoy them on repeated occasions, they break open inside your inner psyche and start to germinate. Many of my now-favorites had this effect for me, including Love Forever Changes, the Mothers' Freak Out!, and The United States Of America debut -- well, Anonymous, in fact, is the king of "growers." Just when you thought the growth was bunk and you're about ready to inoculate something else, the mycelium appears and starts to branch itself deep, and somehow manages to keep growing fuller until it bears some of the most delicious fruit I've had the privilege to experience.

The Buckingham/Nicks influence is definitely here, but after repeated listening I began to hear much, much more. Crawling through the marijuana smoke seeped deep into these grooves, one is likely to be impressed by the band's mastery of difficult prog moves -- and if you're not impressed, just try to play along! -- while the songs themselves still manage to stay totally accessible and groovy. The male/female vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane circa 1967-1968; the guitar playing is blistering yet consistently great; and the precision of the drummer invariably amazes. I totally breezed over these facets on the first few listens, given that the private nature of this release means production here is limited (the vocals are mixed a bit high relative to the impressive instrumental tracks), but once the ears become acquainted with the albeit lo-fi nature of this album, it reveals itself, rendering a really beautiful and deep experience. 

I doubt that these guys had any genuine Sandoz influence, but somehow they managed to achieve that innate acid vibe on their album which only the best west-coast '60s psych groups seem to have attained. This is due in no small part to the amazing lyrics, which are introspective, critical, and sometimes scathing:

Ron Matelic (L) and Marsha Rollings (R) are responsible
for the hauntingly beautiful vocal harmonies of Anonymous


You wake up findin'
That it's quarter after half past one
You realize that
You have slept a little much too long
Is that what you want?

Shadow lay, shadow lie
Shadow play, shadow die

You wake up findin'
That the time you wanted now is gone
You realize that
You can say it right and do it wrong
Is that what you want?

(R. Matelic -- from "Shadow Lay")



This is in fact a concept album to some degree, with the "shadow" here being the recurring motif. This shadow is almost certainly referring to the psychological "id," which contains the most primitive and instinctive components of human personality. The lyrics to these songs are indeed quite personal, and like all great music, the words integrate into the songs' total emotive power, and in some moments form their most central psychedelic component. 

So, all together now: I apologize for the long introduction for this rip, but I felt it necessary to explain that if at first this one doesn't catch you, try again. You might find it one of the most rewarding listens of music you've had in years, as I now have. It can be truthfully stated that there isn't a dull moment here.


The original release of Inside The Shadow in 1976 was followed by a second pressing produced in 1981, which rendered the old back cover artwork as the new front cover design in purely black-and-white (reproduced to the right). This reissue in fact appears to have used the same stampers as on the first pressings, but having suffered damage at some point in the five years previous, the reissue was rendered quite noisy and aurally inferior to the discs produced in the earlier run. After this, a string of even worse reissues followed. First was a reissue on the OR label contemporaneous with the first issue of J. Rider recordings, but instead of a tape source being used for the Anonymous album, a noisy & horribly mastered vinyl dub was used with speed errors. A similar treatment was given in 2013 when the Machu Picchu label reissued both titles, again using a bad vinyl source for Inside The Shadow with incorrect speed on both sides. The master tapes have never resurfaced for this great record, and are today presumed lost. Therefore original pressings are necessary in order to hear the album properly, but special care and attention must be payed for proper playback. 

One of the reasons that this album requires special treatment is that side 2 was pressed wildly off-center on all original pressings, rendering audible "wow" when played back from untouched copies. Most collectors are justifiably afraid to take an X-Acto knife to their expensive vinyl, but I indeed carefully applied minimal surgery to this near mint original copy to properly center both sides very accurately before playback and digital transfer. My usual manual restoration procedure followed, bringing this album up to its original fidelity.

So while vinyl transfers of this album from the inferior 2nd pressing have circulated in some smaller circles, they are all of lesser quality than this properly-transferred and manually-restored remastering which I present here in high-resolution sound. Granted, this is not an "audiophile" recording; the mix is bright, and at moments it sounds like the drummer's snares are vibrating wildly without proper dampening. But I've maintained this sound as part of the original recording so that you can hear this masterpiece as it was intended to be heard upon release back in 1976. 

***In addition to scans of the original album cover and labels, I've thrown in scans of the original insert which contains the lyrics for every track on the album. I've also included scans of the insert from the 1996 and 2013 reissues, including liner notes written by Ron Matelic and Acid Archives contributor Aaron Milenski. 

Anonymous:
Ron Matelic ‎– vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, electric 12 string guitar
Marsha Rollings (now Ervin) ‎– vocals
Glenn Weaver ‎– vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, electric bass
John Medvescek ‎– percussion

Track listing:
1) "Who's Been Foolin'?" ‎– 3:25
2) "J. Rider" ‎– 4.35
3) "Up To You" ‎– 3:27
4) "Shadow Lay" ‎– 6:09
5) "Pick Up And Run" ‎– 5:07
6) "We Got More" ‎– 5:20
7) "Sweet Lilac" ‎– 4:31
8) "Baby Come Risin'" ‎– 9:29

Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– TCC TC-754 RIAA phono preamp (new regulated power supply, added LM7812 regulator)
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, mono fold, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)



Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks! 
Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1exPCx5kQ6B8BKoLsjLFc0-oBjy6gXDNJ?usp=sharing
Enjoy! :)


24 comments:

  1. Really looking forward to this one.

    Another unknown album you might want to track down (if you donèt know it already) is The Plastic Cloudès self-titled LP. Sadly not well known, should have been a minor hit.

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    1. I assume you mean The Plastic Cloud album on Allied -- yes, it's great! I highly recommend the CD on the Laser's Edge label for a fantastic-sounding digital version from master tapes.

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    2. hello friend know your work recently, i was wondering if you can make available the mamas and the papas (if you can believe your eyes and ears mono sundazed) if you can, thanks greetings from brazil

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  2. Many thanks for this one too.

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  3. Wowza! Here's one I never thought I would see! Had an original years ago, sold it and regretted it as the reissue I have pales in comparison to the sound of the original. Can't THANK YOU enough sir, I previewed this and it sounds phenomenal friend! A record that deserves way more recognition.

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    1. Yes, I agree... the reissues have never done this one right. Now everyone can hear this as it was intended! Enjoy! :)

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  4. Thanks for this really cool album :)

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  5. Thanks very much!

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  6. First Hollins And Starr and now THIS! Many thanks and virtual hugs from France! Please keep on providing us with these stellar jobs and this incredible music!!!!!

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    1. Thanks for the comment & kindness, enjoy friend! :)

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  7. Thanks! Clear as a bell and a huge improvement on the muddy MP3s I have. A wonderful recording.

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  8. Superb blog. Thanks from Italy-

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  9. I have never heard this album sound so good, amazing.

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  10. Wow! Just Wow! Sounds amazing! Thanks so much for doing this LP!

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  11. Definitely an upgrade compared to previous digital versions!
    Thank you for the hard work and for sharing it :))

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    1. Thanks, Vincent! Hope you are well! Cheers & rock on :)

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  12. Space Bear -
    This is something different. Have never heard of this album. Should like to give it a listen and see what it is about. Appears you have put much work in this project. Thank you very much for making it available to the Space World. Farewell for now terrestrials!

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    1. Definitely worth checking this one out, some claim it's one of the best ever... hope that you enjoy it.
      P.S.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ4IUjjVfng

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  13. Hello & thanks so much for this excellent transfer. I'd actually never heard this LP before I encountered it on your blog. Here's a weird series of events: A couple of years ago, I bought a lot of 10 KPM library records from an eBay seller and between every LP in that lot, the seller had put an empty LP sleeve, most of which were all blue ink, never-used (i.e., mint) copies of the sleeve for this very album!! If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have saved them, but when I was selling off a lot of LPs, I re-used them for the same purpose and today I have zero copies left. What is there to say??

    Anyway, thanks again!

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  14. Thanks for the opportunity to check out an album I've only read about. I'm on my second listen and I'm really enjoying it!

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