I forget where I was. After a few years the churn of new trendy
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By the time I encountered VPN they’d walked backwards into a Bob Pollard influenced pop melancholia. The album For Nearby Stars was their great finale. I worked my way backwards accumulating their catalog. I picked up Small Wire which was if anything more melodic and more delicate. My obsession grew. Years later I was able to find their Boy with Only One Head EP on Big Ten Rex records.
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The Line up was ever-changing in their 10-year run. The line up around 2001 included both of singer Austin Hughes twin sisters Pat Hughes, Jean Rodd and Drummer Eddie Gormley performed with Vatican III and on some Babe the Blue Ox albums. The night I saw them Harrison Cannon from the band Geezer Lake was playing bass. But the music always remains emotionally complicated giving a heady almost poetic weight to every song.As I dug deeper my awe grew ungainly.
As you move backwards in their catalog they seem more and more like strange punk mutants equally related to Elvis Costello and Devo. What they had become by the time I encountered them was an entirely different animal. The name they’d used for a decade was ill-fitting. They embraced the acronym VPN and discarded the communist allusions. They were at least to the ear, an entirely different band.
But after that the trail drops off. The two LPs on Evil Teen records end their catalog. There is no definitive discography. They put out some 7-inches on D-tox records and Fang records in the early 1990s. I have accumulated all of these, even a mysterious one-sided translucent blue 7-inch labeled only LMNOP. Today Cannon and Hughes are in the dark bluegrass act the M. Shanghai String Band. The other member’s whereabouts are unknown.