Welcome to my Astro-Man archive

This site is meant to be a visual archive of every variation of every Man... or Astro-Man? 7" single ever released. Most of what you'll see here comes from my personal collection. As information pours in I will post it, so please comment if you think you have something to add. I have no intention of posting MP3s here. I'm sure you can find the music elsewhere. This is just an attempt to collect information about the band's prolific creation of singles into one spot. If you can get past the fact that I rarely clean my scanner, I think you'll enjoy what you find here.

Use the Table of Contents on the sidebar if you are looking for details on a specific 7".

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Astro Launch

Astro Launch was one of several 7" EPs Man or Astro-man? released in 1994. It was released on Estrus Records (ES751). The full-color picture sleeve was made from glossy cardstock that was machine-folded and glued into a pocket. The consistency of the printing varies greatly with this one. Some are glossier than others, and the vibrancy of the ink can also vary some. This is especially visible with the blue "O" in Astro. Here is a scan of darkest and lightest picture sleeves in my collection:

The vinyl came in three variations, or four if you're a stickler for variants. It was for sure available on clear orange vinyl and swirly gray vinyl. Here is a scan of side 1 and 2 from these first two:

Where it gets tricky is with the third, black vinyl version. It is sometimes categorized as two different variations. This happens because the black vinyl is translucent when held up to a light source. Some of these look red and others appear to be more dark brown or gray. Online seller will either pass these off as "clear root beer" vinyl or "dark ruby-red" vinyl. So what's the truth? I don't know. But here is a scan of the two variations of black. The first photo was taken with a scanner, and the second shows the same two records with light shining through them. I can totally see the argument for these being classified completely separately, but I'll let you decide how much of a completist you want to be with your own collection. Anyway, here you are:

"Transmission from Venus '94" is a re-recording of a song Man or Astro-man? recorded and released on a Roger Corman tribute compilation in 1993. The other standout tune on this one is an instrumental titled "Philip K. Dick in the Pet Section of a Wal-Mart." The back cover states that there was also a secret cassette-only vocal version of "Philip K. Dick," available to those that would take the time to send $1 to the address on the back. The story is that Birdstuff dubbed a hundred of these cassettes. Here is a scan of the cassette's j-card:

Stuart Ellis (A.K.A. "The Lounge Lizard"), a graphic artist that had his hand in several early MOAM? releases and logo designs, created the artwork for the single's j-card. The artwork was from the dust cover of a first edition of Dick's book The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Here's a scan of the book's cover for comparison:

And here is YouTube link to the audio. It is a little rough, but that's to be expected when you consider that what you're hearing here is a digitized version of a cassette recording dubbed from a master cassette that was made when Birdstuff sang along to the 7" single in his bedroom because he had lost the DAT master. Hey, it was only $1.

The cover art was designed by Art Chantry. This was another case where Chantry found inspiration in vintage space-race merchandise. The front cover was completely patterned after the packaging from a 1960s tin toy made by the Ohio Art Company (the same people behind the Etch-A-Sketch). It is amazing how little was changed to convert this to a MOAM? piece. Here is a picture of the toy and the original box, courtesy of collector Sam Cancilla:

The art used on the center labels of the records was also taken directly from the toy, but this time from the instruction sheet. You will notice that the "Inner Orbit" illustration looks strikingly like the art that ended up on the center label--the only differences being the inversion of the colors and the fact that the writing on the EP is in French. Part of the French text was cut off. This wouldn't normally be that big of a deal, but when you shorten ORBITE INTÉRIEURE to BITE INTÉRIEURE, you go from saying Inner Orbit to saying Inner Cock. Fitting, when you consider that the rooster is the French national bird. Anyway, here is a picture of the instruction sheet for the Astro Launch toy:

(For more information on the Astro Launch tin toy, and for links to other vintage toys, check out Sam Cancilla's Astro Launch page.)

As the liner notes on the back of the single point out, the photo on the back cover was from a side-show museum in Seattle called Jones's Fantastic Museum. The museum was open from 1963-1980, and was curated by a guy named Walt "Doc" Jones. The picture shows several exhibits from the museum, but the central piece was the Man From Mars Machine. Here is clear shot of that exhibit:

I'm not really sure what the machine did. It was obviously a campy space-themed gag, so it was perfect for the back of the single. The funny thing is, even after having seen a video of the machine in action, I still don't know what the hell it was supposed to do. Here's the video, with the Mars Machine no longer in the museum and in its new home in what appears to be someone's den:

The back cover photo is credited to Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire. Pugmire was the resident "vampire" at the museum and a future horror fiction author. He was also responsible for the publication of the punk rock fanzine Punk Lust in the 1980s.

Thanks to Benjamin Brinkman and to Stuart Ellis for contributing heavily to this post.


  1. The lyrics to "The Secret Vocal Version of Philip K. Dick in the Pet Section of a Wal-Mart" are:

    Just the other day
    I was going down to the Wal-Mart
    For some Little Debbies and some duct tape
    When I was startled by the sight
    Of Philip K. Dick browsing at...
    The Hamster Turrets

    I saw Philip K. Dick
    In the Pet Section of...
    of a Wal-Mart

    I saw Philip K. Dick
    In the Pet Section of...
    of a Wal-Mart

    Is it really him?
    I just can't say
    He's been dead for over 10 years now
    I guess that pink pencil light beam got to me too
    Because now I'm able to speak Greek
    All the while he's saying the animals look so sickly
    This is twice as weird as A Scanner Darkly

    I still thought I saw Philip K. Dick
    In that pet section
    He was yelling at all the mutant kids
    Imploring against the vile treatment of stock breeding
    He says just look at all the algae eaters
    It's unethical

    I saw Philip K. Dick
    In the Pet Section of...
    of a Wal-Mart

    I saw Philip K. Dick
    In the Pet Section of...
    of a Wal-Mart

  2. Wow I learned something new today.I had no idea this was originally a board game.I would pay some serious cash for one of these games.The hunt is on!!!
    Art Chantry borrowed a lot of his stuff,but he stole from the best!

  3. I think he's just paying tribute to the generations of graphic designers that churned out timeless work without ever considering how awesome it would be in the future. I like the word "reimagined" better. . .

  4. I designed the "Philip K. Dick in the Pet Section of a Wal-Mart" cassingle. The artwork was from the dust cover of a first edition of Dick's book "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch".