Saturday, March 19, 2011

UFO'S and the Men Who Fly Them!


UFO's and the Men Who Fly Them! was a 1996 Man or Astro-Man? 7" EP released jointly by Jezz Thorpe (Drug Racer) and Henry Owings of Chunklet Magazine. It was put out by Drug Racer Records. There was no catalog number, as Drug Racer never used proper catalog numbers--instead every band that recorded on the label chose their favorite drug as the identifying factor. According to Thorpe, Astro-Man chose "Electricity" as their catalog code because it was decided that the band was addicted to licking batteries. Also, the vinyl etchings identify it as 106038/106039. This single featured an off-set printed, die-cut cardstock sleeve that unfolded to reveal a punch-out "flying saucer disc" (assembled in 5 easy steps). The artwork, including the 3-D design was mostly worked out by Chris Bilheimer. Some of the initial design and the final punch-out replication were done by Thingmaker L (who also worked on the Return to Chaos packaging). The punch-out UFO led to many a damaged picture sleeve, making it a little tough to find a mint copy of this one.

I have four copies of this single. Depending on the copy, there were two different inserts. One of my copies has both inserts, but another doesn’t have either. The other two only have one—I think you got whatever was on hand at Chunklet HQ when your order went out. Here is a scan of the two inserts. The dark green insert was also printed on pink paper:



According to the Touchable Sound book, there were 4,400 of these made. The single was released on astro silver vinyl (400), anti-freeze green vinyl (400), and translucent black vinyl (3,200). There was also a second pressing on red vinyl (400). Some discographies put the red variation at anywhere from 60 to100 copies. They are pretty hard to track down, so there could be some truth to that. Owings remembers counting the number of sleeves that he had left and ordering exactly that many copies from the pressing plant. Almost 15 years later and no one can remember the exact number. When I bought my copy from Owings 10+ years ago, the number getting thrown around then was 100. So, who knows? In any case, this is one of the best designed and executed singles ever produced. Here are all four varieties:



UPDATE:
BUT WAIT! WHAT IN THE HELL IS THIS:


It seems that there is a second variety of green vinyl floating around--a bright, translucent green variation. I had sometimes seen the green variety listed as either "pea soup green" or "clear green" but had always thought that they were different ways of describing the same record. Then someone sent me the picture above. Either they took the picture with a really shitty camera, or I have to start scouring the world for a variation so rare that no one remembers it. Does anyone else have a copy that is clear green and not the opaque, soupy-looking version? I wonder how many are out there. My first instinct is that this is probably a a transitional color from the pressing plant.

My red copy also came in a slightly darker picture sleeve. I'm not sure if this variation in printing was consistent throughout the second pressing, but thought I should mention it here anyway. Here's a picture for comparison:



And here is a blurry photograph of what the sleeve looks like when it is completely unfolded:



On a personal note, it has always bothered me that UFO was pluralized on the front cover as UFO's instead of UFOs. Proof that even a well-designed package could benefit from a decent copy editor. I guess I should just be happy it didn't end up as UFOes or UFOs'.


UPDATE: After years of putting it off, I finally decided to pick up an extra copy for the sole purpose of destroying the picture sleeve and assembling the UFO. The following is a poorly documented photo essay of the process of building a tiny, non-functional space ship:

Here's the donor sleeve, an extra black vinyl copy I picked up at the recently resurfaced Eastside Records in Tempe, Arizona (the same shop behind the awesome Needles in the Cosmic Haystack single):



The sleeve laid out flat. The silver side would become the exterior of the ship.




The first direction: 

"Removing the parts of the saucer disc for prepare assembling."




The second, third, and fourth directives: 

"Using gluesticks adhesive for proper joining to individual parts."

"Careful attentio must be to tailpiece and entirety of saucer disc to fit together."

"Now only folding to make completion of suarcer disc. Creese only the dotted lines of pieces."




Final sleeve direction:

"Now glonious saucer disc has completed for enjoyment!"






Thanks to Brad Lynham for the picture of the clear green record.

12 comments:

  1. Good work on putting this together, it's great to finally have a solid resource on the Astroman 7"s.

    I imagine you have everything I do, you seem to even be on top of the test pressings. Here is an old pic of my astro-wax though.

    http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b365/charliesheen23/astrowax.jpg

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  2. Andrew your collection looks awesome. I think you have more 12" vinyl than I do. I don't think I'll post a whole lot about the LPs on this blog because that was never the focus of my collecting. I really only went after 7" and 10" records.

    I see you have two copies of the Spectrum of Infinate Sound double 10". What colors are yours? I've seen so many variations of that one that I'm almost not sure what to write about it . . .

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  3. Or was it Spectrum of Infinite Scale? I never remember the title of that one. Or how to spell infinite, apparently.

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  4. hey James, thanks!

    The US version, which has a paper outer slip sleeve that the gatefold sleeve slides inside, has one record is very dark translucent purple, the other is translucent yellow. Everyone's was meant to be random, as they pressed each 10" on various different colours and mixed them up.

    The UK release has both 10"s on translucent vinyl with splodges of lots of other colours inside it.

    This may be of some help:
    http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20010802151806/http://www.lynham.org/astro/
    Sadly the pics are dead links, I'll ask Brad if he still has the site backed up.

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  5. You know a new Astroman 7" came out a few months ago packaged with a book? I only heard about it a few weeks back when I noticed it on discogs.com, and was luckily able to grab one from the guys who put it out.

    Was great to get a new astroman 7" again.

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  6. the greens are definitely different. i have both, and they're pretty much identical to the pictures. it always seemed strange to me that all of the pressings have the same labels, yet the red and the transparent green have different coloured sleeves.

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  7. According to Owings the sleeves were all made at the same time. It was only after he ran out of records and still had sleeves left that he ordered the red vinyl copies from the pressing plant. People have contacted me with both light and dark sleeves with every vinyl color variation, so I don't think the reds consistently have the darker one.

    Still, if you look at the pictures in this post you'll see that there is some color variation in the sleeve. I think it was just inconsistency with the printing, but not a purposefully different sleeve. The same thing happened with the Astro Launch record sleeve.

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  8. Any chance of tracking down a photo of an assembled UFO? I don't think I've ever seen one, but I'd like to, although I'm sure it would make the collectors wince.

    ALIII

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  9. James - Thanks for such a rad site.

    This is one of my favorite 7" releases by MOAM? or any other band and I'd love to know more about the pressing/recording. Specifically, I've got two different test pressings and wonder why one was released over the other. The first test is labeled "F. Saucers 1st Test w/ Live Versions" and has the following numbers etched in the dead vinyl: A-106006 and B-106007. A-1 track is the same as the released version, but A-2 is different and not a track I recognize. B-1 and 2 are different from what was released and are live recordings - judging from the banter at the start and between songs along with the crowd noise. The second test is labeled "MorA-M Flying Saucers Test 2" and appears to be one of the tests for what was pressed and released. It's got A-106038 and B-106039 along with the corresponding track names etched in the vinyl. Anybody?

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  10. HeHeHeHe!!! UFO's .... Bloody marvellous sleeve destined for self destruction. We did this to make sure people bought two copies each. Just to annoy the record collectors. Did the same with our Servotron 7", that sleeve was glued shut you had to rip it to play it. Neat. I still have a few copies in different colours of both. Interestingly I never built the UFO. My eldest son did and quite a few others I know but me, never so that photo of the construct above is appreciated. For the completists its catalogue number was "Electricity" every band chose a drug, MoA were addicted to licking batteries
    It's been fun reading this. Most of the facts had long been forgotten so a big thanks to all. Jezz Thorpe "Drug Racer"

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    1. Jezz, thanks for the info. This is one of me favorite releases. If you do have extra copies, especially if you have one of the clear green versions that DOESN'T look like pea soup, consider selling it to me. As official curator of this blog I've been able to track down almost everything else. If not, don't sweat it. Having you tarting up my comments section means more to me than you'd think.

      Jameseatscheese

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