1979 (Mercury)

Recorded and mixed at
Suma Studios, Painesville, Ohio

Mastered at Masterdisk

Rick Garberson played drums

Thanks to:
Robert Christgau, Carola Dibbell, Jim Green, Ira Robbins, Greg Shaw,
Craig Zeller, John Thompson & the Dromones (Mike & Ellen), Jim Ellis,
Gary Mollica, Jim Kauffman, Dave Lare, John London, Chuck Rutzen,
Gary Storm, Debbie Pirtchard, Russ Tripoli, Bill Salem, Rick Magyar,
Rich Perrine, "Sam" Masteller, Jane Scott, mark Price, John Mondl, Tin Huey,
Pere Ubu, Rubber City Rebles, Devo, Cliff Burnstein, Larry Poules,
Trouser Press, Slash, Bomp, Back Door Man, N.M.E., Scene,
Elleboy Hamaker, Zig-Zag, Claude Bessy, Mark Kmetzko,
Greg Springer, Jim Enright, Danny Heaps, Hammer-Damage Band,
Teacher's Pet, Human Switchboard, J.B.'s, The Nightclub, the Bank.

Vinyl LP Record
Mercury Records (USA) SRM-1-3776
released in 1979


The Bizarros are a young quintet from that hotbed of rock & roll eccentricity, Akron, Ohio, but they're not eccentric at all: they're frighteningly, exhilaratingly accomplished. These guys have hoarded tricks and technique from the Velvet Underground (how to make slow-tempoed rock sound swiftly plotted) and any number of English punk bands (how to make abrasiveness a suitable vehicle for delicate, even poignant, feelings). To this, they've added their own ideas about rock ellipsis—I defy anyone to tell me what their eleven clearly enunciated lyrics are about—and have cooked up an original formula for combining both their sensitivity and their aggression.

Lead singer Nick Nicholis has a charmingly flat but flexible voice, one that avoids a monotone by the skin of his larynx. Nicholis invests nearly all the Bizarros' songs with a nameless anxiety, even while his crisp diction mocks the genius-garage-band sound his group cultivates.

Frequently, as in "Young Girls at Market" and "Lady Doubonette," lead guitarist Gerald Parkins implants a billowing, enveloping solo that at first seems to have sprung from nowhere in the tune, but whose origin somehow crystallizes during the course of his performance. It's more than just a neat trick, and often lifts these compositions of quotidian, disconnected images and somber intensity into areas of quiet epiphany.

So it is with the entire album. Knotty and unyielding, Bizarros boasts enough hard and lyrical force to meet a wise, witty rock & roll standard that too few bands today seem capable of reaching. (RS 298)


Vinyl LP Record
Mercury Records (USA) SRM-1-3776
released in 1979

Although other Northeast Ohio post-punk and New Wave acts went on to greater success and notoriety — Devo, Pere Ubu and the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde all spring immediately to mind — few were as crucial to the scene's longevity and impact as the Bizarros; the first Akron band signed to a national record deal, the group's frontman Nick Nicholis also operated the fabled Clone label, which issued records by key regional acts including the Waitresses, Tin Huey, Human Switchboard and the Rubber City Rebels.

Nicholis formed the Bizarros in late 1976 while a student at the University of Akron, and within months the band signed to Blank Records, the Mercury subsidiary founded by A&R exec Cliff Burnstein for the express purposes of signing Pere Ubu. Their self-titled debut album did not appear until 1979, however, when it was issued on Mercury proper; in the interim, the Bizarros issued a handful of efforts on Clone, most notably 1977's From Akron, a split LP with fellow hometown favorites the Rubber City Rebels.

Day jobs (Nicholis worked as a public schoolteacher) and a lack of label support prohibited the Bizarros from touring nationally, and in 1982 the band finally dissolved, reforming in 1996 to record new material.