Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Megatron Man - The Life & Times of Patrick Cowley  


In 1975 Patrick Cowley and Jorge Socarras began a friendship and musical partnership that spanned several years and the end result was an LP's worth of material that saw the light of day in the United States for the first time just yesterday. The story of how things got to this point is an interesting slice of San Francisco history. It all started when DJ Ken Vulsion of Honey Soundsystem spun some records with legendary SF producer/ DJ John Hedges at Cafe Flore about 3 years ago. Hedges took over running Megatone Records with Marty Blecman after Cowley's death in 1982 from a mysterious and deadly new virus called GRID. Hedges was already a legendary disco DJ since the mid 70's at this point having been the house DJ at The Mineshaft and the City Disco. When Marty Blecman passed due to complication from the Aids virus in 1991, Hedges became the steward of the huge Megatone back catalog.

About a year after the gig, Kenvulsion received a call from Hedges informing him that he was selling his old studio and house in Buena Vista Park and moving to Southern California. He would be giving away a huge chunk of his personal record collection and all of the Megatone back catalog. Several of the honey guys found their way over to John's house with a large truck and raided the basement storage space they came to call the Mineshaft. After digging through over 4,000 records, Ken and co. discovered 4 boxes of quarter inch tapes. Half were session copies, others were totally unreleased masters by Cowley. One of the reels ended up being the pre-Megatone full length recording entitled Catholic produced with Jorge.

Fast forward to 2009, the honey guys did a few parties to celebrate their massive record score and easily persuaded German label Macro to issue Catholic for the very first time. The beauty of this recording is that it displays Cowley as much more than just a disco producer. This early period shows him in another pioneering mode: Post Punk. Before the genre even existed. The seemingly timeless Catholic sessions would fit nicely as a DFA release or could have been a celebrated gem on 4AD or Mute back in the day. These recordings further solidify the fact that Cowley may have been the most important and groundbreaking producer San Francisco has ever seen.

This Sunday, Honey Soundsystem hosts two events to commemorate Patrick's 59th birthday and the release of Catholic. All of the details are here and suffice to say there will be special guests (Paul Parker and John Hedges!) in attendance and one can expect these events to delve much more deeply into Cowley's backstory and the history of SF disco than I have been able to explain today.

You can preview tracks off of Catholic on their myspace page. Here I have posted the 1987 Megatron Man 12" version remixed by Joseph Watt.

Patrick Cowley - Megatron Man '87

Posted by Magnum | 3 comments

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3 comments: to “ Megatron Man - The Life & Times of Patrick Cowley

  • October 15, 2009 at 2:56 PM  

    Thanks for the backstory Brian. It's interesting to hear how those recordings surfaced.

  • October 16, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

    This reminds me of when I first heard the Black Devil Disco Club album in 2004 and to find out that it was actually recorded in 1978 was analogous to a poke in the mind's eye by a zen master's stick.

    Likewise, to discover that these tracks were made in the mid to late seventies completely scrambles & re-scrambles the accepted linear narrative of dance music.

    This album deserves to become massive, if only to show that Patrick Cowley was a true pioneer of music, full stop.

    Thanks for all the information about this album, I have been playing it to death all today (you can get 192 bitrate versions of all fourteen tracks by grabbing them off the secondary flash player on the myspace page, not the main one).

  • October 21, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

    Big props for the Cowley post man! I can only imagine the things he would have gotten into and created for us had his life not been cut so short. I hope he knew all his work was not in vain! R.I.P.