Recently, my pal Henry Owings (of Chunklet Magazine fame) sent me the above scan. The demo tape fell into his hands in about September of 1992, when he was working as a writer for the Flagpole in Athens, Georgia. This is the first publicly circulated studio recording of Man... or Astro-Man?. It was a cassette only demo release that came out in 1992, and it was touted as being a pre-release version of a record that was going to be called Supersonic Toothbrush Helmut. It was single-sided and it contained the following eight songs:
“Invasion of the Dragonmen”
“Adios Johnny Bravo”
“Cowboy Playing Dead”
“Sadie Hawkins Atomic Bomb”
The song “Adios Johnny Bravo” ended up on the B-side of the first 7-inch, Possession by Remote Control. The other songs ended up on the first full-length LP, Is It . . . Man or Astro-Man?. I only have the artwork, so I have no idea if these are the same songs that ended up on the later releases or if they are versions from earlier recording sessions. What is clear, though, is that half of the songs that would end up on the first LP existed in some recorded form the year prior to their official release on Estrus.
There is no copyright information or recording date listed to let us know when this gem first saw the light of day. Pinning down an exact release date is a little tricky, but here’s what I have been able to surmise. None of these songs ended up on the actual Supersonic Toothbrush Helmet EP that came out on Lance Rock records in 1993. Those songs, “Bermuda Triangle Shorts”, “the Vortex Beyond”, “Caffeine Trip” and “The Heavies,” were recorded at Zero Return on 3/20/1993, at least six months after this demo started to circulate. They in no way match the songs on this cassette. Also, the version of “Adios Johnny Bravo” that appears here has to predate the version that appeared on Possession by Remote Control. Why? Because the Possession version was recorded on Halloween 1992, and this tape was already in Owings’ hands in September or early October of 1992. We know this for sure because he used the blank side of the cassette to record one of MOAM?’s first ever gigs in Georgia—a performance that took place at Club Fred in Athens on 10/08/1992.
Some information as to the recording and personnel can be taken from a comment left on this page by one Grand Master Useless in March of 2013. He stated:
"I was around for the conceptual stages of MOA, and for playing the first few gigs. I was in no way prepared for the career that was about to ensue, so Deleto was brought in over the summer of 92. The first album was recorded shortly after that at the original Zero Return. If I remember right, the album was recorded before the deal with Estrus. So, these demos and the first album were all from Zero return, and likely all from the first session. Deleto was there to record everything, but I came in towards the end to add a few things.
Crunch wrote everything, but I remember bringing him a rough version of the Sadie bass-line and he arranged and wrote the rest of the song from there. So, it must have been a something of a parting gift for me to record it."
At some point we may be able to pressure Owings to encode the cassette so we can post it here. In the mean time, take solace in the fact that I don’t have a copy either, and I thought I had everything.
UPDATE: Henry has posted the demo to Chunklet.com.
CLICK HERE TO LINK TO HIS DOWNLOAD PAGE
Here is a scan of the cassette itself: