Monday, November 13, 2006

My Favorite Run-Out Groove Etchings...

Some call it a secret language by which only the dorky communicate. Others say it was passed down from Thomas Edison himself. Most people never even know they exist. Here's a quick (who am I kidding...it's pretty long-winded) run down of my favorite run-out groove etchings. It's pretty limited to only ones i know/remember. Any greats I missed or that I should know about please send my way.


  1. Why don’t you trade those guitars for shovels?

Quite possibly the most famous run-out etching ever, this is on the A-side of Nirvana’s debut single “Love Buzz.” A phrase supposedly uttered by Krist Noveselic’s dad upon walking into a Nirvana rehearsal, it (like many other run-out etchings, but not EVERY run-out etching) can usually be used to tell an original, authentic press of the record from a bootleg.

  1. “E.S.Q.” from us to you

The Gories most plentiful single (4500 copies pressed) might also be their best. Covers of the songs “Give Me Some Money” originally by Spinal Tap (or if you want to be precise, the Thamesmen) and the (British) Birds arrangement of the Bo Diddley classic “You Don’t Love Me” (sometimes appended with the parenthetical of “You Don’t Care”) were, according to Mick, originally meant to be released as a single on Estrus, as they were “garage” tracks. Meanwhile, the Estrus-released “Baby Say Unh!!” b/w “Idol With the Golden Head” was slated for Sub Pop for its “grunginess.” While I initially took that with a grain of salt, there is a live Gories bootleg (which one, I can’t recall) that I seem to remember Mick supporting this claim.

The etching is particularly confusing as “E.S.Q.” is a reference to the gut-rot liquor Thunderbird ESQ, a spirit that inspired a Gories song of the same name. While regular Thunderbird is still readily available at party stores all across the metro Detroit area (and other locales I’m sure) the “ESQ” has been discontinued.

  1. Mark is a pet (b/w) Pet is a verb

From Green River’s debut single on Tasque Force (a company which was actually just Bruce Pavitt before he started releasing under the Sub Pop moniker), this green vinyl beauty gives production credit to “J. Perry” a joke that supposedly fooled many people into believing the Aerosmith shredder was actually producing these NorWest glam trash fools.

The label on the b-side of this record (there is no picture sleeve) is a photo of what appears to be Mark Arm and what is assumed to be some other member of Green River (wearing a badass “Sonic Life” t-shirt) at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. If I had to guess, I’d say South Dakota. Anywho, said Sonic Lifer is standing with pants unzipped to re-appropriate the sign to his immediate right that reads “Pet Area” with an arrow. My explanation sucks. You just need to see it. Mark Arm’s sense of humor will never tire with me.

  1. Lafayette we have returned

Ok, this one might be cheating. The original test pressings of the White Stripes “Lafayette Blues” single contain this phrase in the run-out. But those tests were rejected and ultimately were re-cut with the message omitted.

The line is a quote usually attributed to US Gen. John Pershing upon his arrival on French shores during the First World War (some claim it was actually a lower-ranking officer who said it). Either way, the quote is a reference to French General Marquis de Lafayette and the enormous support he gave to the Continental forces during the American Revolution. As World War I dragged on, the call was adapted to “Lafayette we are still here!”

  1. Someone from Burning Brides phone number

Mind you the run-out groove did not say “someone from Burning Brides phone number.” No, it actually listed the phone number and possibly some other naughty message. All this could only be thought up by the brilliance behind Buddyhead, the label/messageboard/whatever the fuck it is that they do now conglomerate that released the Brides “Fall of the Plastic Empire” LP. I do not own a copy of this record and only know of the run-out groove because I was sitting with members of Burning Brides when they got one of these random phone calls. I liked the idea so much I stole it for the Dirtbombs/Adult. split single. The Dirtbombs side says “For free phone sex call…” and has Jim Diamond’s phone number listed.

  1. Looser

On Beck’s pre-“Loser” single “MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack.” What it a sign of prescience? Just some goof-off? All in all, it totally encapsulates everything a run-out groove should be…off-the-cuff, curious, clever and quick.

  1. This is our art (b/w) This is our fart

No doubt another one of Mark Arm’s gems, this one from the bonus 7” included with LP copies of Mudhoney’s “My Brother the Cow.” With songs titles like “Mudhoney Funky Butt” and “West Seattle Hardcore” I really have no idea what these songs were intended for…other than fluff to wraparound an amazing run-out groove message.

  1. SST’s gotta a lot of nerve (b/w) We love you Dinosaur

From the SST pressing of Sonic Youth’s self-titled EP. Did SST properly license the recordings from Neutral? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe that’s what the message refers to. We may never know. And the declared love of Dinosaur is probably just someone being geeked to be label-mates with J. Mascis’ wank band.

  1. Gawker Side (b/w) Stalker Side

You may not have noticed, but I’m just pulling these records out as I make this list, seeing what has run-outs I dig. The Hentchmen’s “Hentch-Forth” record (a mini-LP whose name I actually came up with when I was a tyke of 16 years old) is a cheeky reference to the side with the track “Gawker Delay,” an instrumental tune that is one of the most dynamic and uncharacteristic things the Hentchmen ever recorded. It rules. The flip has a song called “Big Screen Lover”…a song basically about a Hollywood stalker. That’s it…pretty simple.

  1. Nosferatu with a bowl cut (b/w) I’m not Pete Townsend

I put this in the run-out of the first record I released, a Mooney Suzuki single. I originally asked the band if they had any ideas for run-out grooves and they had nothing. A few weeks later, they asked me to put “If you don’t like this record, why don’t you roof it?” instead. I still don’t know what that means. I sent the new line forward, but in some confusion at the mastering lab, the “roof it” phrase got attached to the Cyril Lords single I was also having cut at that time. Meanwhile, my original genius phrase “Nosferatu with a bowl cut” (a line someone once used to describe the appearance of Moonies lead singer Sammy James Jr.) made it on the record. The flip, “I’m not Pete Townsend” was a quote from James taken from an interview he gave that was edited perfectly to cut back and forth between him repeatedly saying that line quickly followed by shots of him doing windmill guitar power chords a la Pete. You had to see it. Anyway, I delivered the test pressings to the Moonies at SXSW in 2003 and the first thing they did was check out the run-out grooves. I cannot tell you how disappointed they looked when they found no “roof-it” in their grooves. To this day, I have yet to fuck up another run-out groove message.

3 comments:

Distracted said...

poor mooney suzuki, and yes the lafayette test pressing run-out is cheating. you've left out one of my personal faves "Talent borrows, genius steals" from...?

Anonymous said...

The Smiths - Bigmouth Strikes Again

Beebs said...

hey bud,

might sound blasphemous, but i'm going to laser a couple old records...wondering if you could tell me anything about making runout grooves....