Joe Stumble wrote on his blog a while ago about how the first Volcano Suns album was a gateway record for him away from all things strictly punk, and it was one of the records in that same sort of pile for me, too. I'm sure it's a story I've told a bunch of times before-- the Kinks and AC/DC lead to the Replacements, which lead me to hardcore, which lead me any number of things-- although it didn't always follow a straight line; sometimes the lines would cross over each other, or run parallel for a while. Where I lucked out is just as all the first and second wave hardcore bands were starting to do weird stuff (like make bad metal records), an entire new scene popped up, made up of bands like Big Black and Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr and Phantom Tollbooth and Scratch Acid and Volcano Suns, etc, pushed along by labels like Homestead and Touch & Go and fanzines like Conflict and Forced Exposure... and so things were pretty great for a while. Not only did these bands take the loose ends that were in my head and tie them all together (like, how AC/DC and the Replacements and Mission of Burma and Minor Threat could all be somewhat related to each other), but nobody was buying these records or going to any of these shows-- once you stepped outside of hardcore's little circle, the people you'd run into were all into crap like the Three O'Clock and the Steppes, mostly-- which left a wide-open space to run around in. Traceable back to hardcore's aggression, of course, but none of the bands sounded anything like each other, and there was nothing to shoot for (other than a respectful nod from the other people who were in there with you) so there was no reason to give a fuck otherwise. Which is how all the best stuff always happens, anyway.
This record has one of my favorite verses ever ("It's a balancing act/and I can't balance/and I can't act too well/apparently") to go along with the tumbling, oddly-disjointed disarray which made up Volcano Suns' earlier records-- a sound which saw some of the wrinkles get ironed out as the band and the lineup changes went along, so that by the Suns' third album ("Bumper Crop", which is actually my favorite, not sure how that works) they were closer to straight-up power chord rock, but still good. The first two albums are total classics, though, and "The Bright Orange Years" was one of those records that when my ears first heard it, it was like it just fell out of the sky, and it made me want to dig a little more and find out where these people were coming from and what things I'd been missing out on ("hippie stuff" like 13th Floor Elevators and the Velvet Underground, it turned out).
This isn't the original copy that I'd bought back in '86, but one that I picked up years ago at a record store up in Boston (one that Peter Prescott used to work at, oddly enough) and which, just my luck, included the crummy Homestead one-sheet that I didn't have the misfortune of reading the first time around. I'm not saying it's the worst one-sheet ever made, but jeez, the guy could've put a little more effort into it.
Volcano Suns -
"Descent Into Hell"