The Sundays
SUNY 1990
(cdr)

Tracklist: Can't Be Sure · I Won · I Kicked a Boy · A Certain Someone · Joy · What Do You Think? · On Earth · Skin and Bones · Something Wrong · My Finest Hour · Hideous Towns · Turkish · Here's Where the Story Ends

The Sundays are one of those precious early-90s bands who managed to remain precious, perhaps simply because they failed to get as big as they surely should have been. With only three LPs in their discography and a public profile so vague that even serious fans aren't quite sure whether they ever broke up, The Sundays are, now as then, a band you can have all to yourself.

If, however, you can't content yourself with the band's meager studio output, an even more private layer of Sundays fandom is accessible via the small handful of bootlegs out there. Prior to finding this one, I only knew of one other Sundays boot, from a 1993 New York show, and the sound was pretty rough.

This SUNY show, from September 1990, is shimmering by comparison, though it's still very much an audience recording. Even so, the sound is full, well-balanced, and clear, and the moment itself is exciting, bringing me back to the days when I could catch most of my favorite bands somewhere on my college campus, and I still had the stamina and passion to see show after show.

These days, I still see show after show, but that's mostly in the form of "SVU" marathons. Ah well, at least I can live vicariously through old bootlegs, allowing me to get excited again about music I absolutely breathed back then. The Sundays were definitely one of my top two or three pet bands in college, and this set is a fantastic little time machine. It's pretty much the entire first album live, plus a couple of songs that I don't think were ever released in studio versions ("Something Wrong" and "Turkish"). The swirling jangle of David Gavurin's guitar, the irresistible pine of Harriet Wheeler's voice … ah, it's like being back in the dorms. Minus the malingering and endless identity crises.

The lingering effect of hearing this now is strange: nostalgia and discovery, simultaneously. Perhaps I'm actually stuck in a Kurt Vonnegut novel. If so, it's the lamest one he's written, but the soundtrack is great.

Review by Margo Bourgeois