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Spittin' Image

Spawned from the same thriving music scene at Zachariah’s Red Eye Saloon, Spittin’ Image’s rise to a major label deal would follow many parallels with that of McGuffey Lane. A well distributed and good selling self-released debut. Good regional airplay and the backing of local radio and TV. Each had a track on QFM’s first Hometown Album Project. In the late ’70s and early ‘80s, they were The Beatles and Rolling Stones of the Columbus rock scene.

Spittin' Image

Spittin' Image

MCA Records – MCA-5309

1982

The culture at Zachariah’s (later Presley’s nightclub and a Bibibop today) was such that musicians would often hang out and end up appearing with other bands on stage. It was in this spirit that Spittin’ Image formed. In 1977, Upper Arlington’s Chip Vivian was playing drums with a band called Timberwolf at Zack’s regularly. He’d meet and jam with Edd Key and Mimi Rousseau and Spittin’ Image was born. Country rock was pulling in crowds and when McGuffey Lane left to tour nationally, Spittin’ Image’s audience continued to grow.


Their self-financed first record would be released in 1980. The title track, written by Edd Key and featuring Mimi Rousseau’s strong vocals and a sax hook suggested by producer Robin Jenney, The Boy’s A Dancer became a regional hit getting significant airplay. Band manager Steve Wasserman (who would later executive produce Beverly Hills 90210) hooked them up with a distributor. Radio play spurred record sales and vice versa.




The industry took notice and Wasserman completed a deal with Los Angeles production company Pichinson Herzog Organization. Recording of the second album began in November 1981 at Cincinnati’s 5th Floor Studios. 5th Floor’s Robin Jenney, who produced their first album, would again produce. Mimi Rousseau and Edd Key would again handle the majority of the songwriting. Pichinson Herzog shopped the sessions and secured a contract with MCA Records.


Like McGuffey Lane, the success of Spittin’ Image’s self-released first album spurred a major label deal. Unlike what ATCO did with McGuffey Lane, MCA wouldn't reissue the first album. They would, however, include the recordings of The Boy’s A Dancer and Gettaway from the first record on the self-titled release, issued June 1, 1982. Musically, the MCA album is another strong effort in the vein of the first record - less country rock and more pop-rock. Visually, the long hair is gone and there’s a new wave look much different from the Doobie Brothers-ish looking band pictured on the first album.


The album opens with Hold Everything, which would also be the first single. This is interesting because it’s the only track not written by members of the band. Sterling Smith, who’d played in J.D. Blackfoot, co-wrote the song with Dan Lawson, who would later help produce Watershed’s Twister album. It’s not one of the stronger tracks and, while poppy, a curious selection for the first single. It doesn’t seem to have done much commercially. Meanwhile, the side two opener, Edd Key’s Grandview Girls, became another regional hit despite never being released as a single by MCA.

It seems like MCA may not have had a lot of confidence in their new signing as they’d then send out a double-sided promo single of Boy’s A Dancer, and place it as the opener on the second pressing of the album. They significantly changed the running order. They dropped Life And Change and You’ll Never Change and added It’ll Be You and Do Me. Gotta love the music biz. And yet, despite all of this, Spittin’ Image managed to evade the sophomore jinx and complete a worthy successor to their first record. There are some great songs here and Rousseau’s voice is strong.


Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Despite a few showcase gigs at places like L.A.’s Whisky A Go Go, they didn’t tour much behind the record. Whether this was lack of label support, a reluctance to give up their lucrative local gigs, or a combination of both, it ultimately doomed the album and by March 1983, less than a year after its release, the band had broken up. Accounts differ and memories fade, but most of the band have fond memories of the experience. There are some great interviews by Pat McLoughlin on Local Lix, which were very helpful to my research. But, clearly, the band had its share of challenges. Chip Vivian left and was replaced by Danny Boyd before the split.

"We never got along well. There was dissension; some of the band members had very strong wills," Edd Key recalled in a 2001 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article. "Then we got stuck in some very ugly record-label politics. MCA fired our representative, so we got dumped."


Unfortunately, almost 40 years after their split, Spittin’ Image gets a bit overlooked. But most of the band members are still active, either in the Columbus area or elsewhere. Mimi Rousseau continued to gig and teach music until retiring a few years ago. Chip Vivian is still drumming in central Ohio. Edd Key got into musical theater and runs The RedBarn Studio out of Seattle. Blair Forward is in Tuscon and plays in Kevin Costner’s band Modern West. Jim Lynch, who has the distinction of playing in both Spittin' Image and McGuffey Lane, still plays guitar and is on Billy Zenn’s latest album. These are some great musicians, so go see them live when you get a chance. There’s even talk of a Spittin’ Image reunion…

Tracklist

A1 Hold Everything

Written-By – Dan Lawson, Sterling Smith

A2 Rock And Roll Boy

Written-By – Mimi Rousseau

A3 Let Me Stay

Written-By – Mimi Rousseau

A4 Life And Change

Written-By – Edd Key

A5 You're Gone

Written-By – Mimi Rousseau





B1 Grandview Girls

Written-By – Edd Key

B2 Boy's A Dancer

Written-By – Edd Key

B3 Gettaway

Written-By – Mimi Rousseau

B4 You'll Never Change

Written-By – Mimi Rousseau

B5 I'm Comin' Home

Written-By – Mimi Rousseau


Companies, etc.

Phonographic Copyright ℗ – MCA Records, Inc.

Produced For – Pichinson-Herzog Org.

Recorded At – Fifth Floor Recording Studios

Mixed At – Fifth Floor Recording Studios



Credits








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