Mars Archives Volume One: China To Mars documents the very, very early days of Mars: so early in fact, that they were called China at the time. This collection gathers up early cassette bootleg recordings of the no-wave punk group at CBGB’s: the first side is actually their audition show! Historical wonder on Feeding Tube.
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6/10 Dan John Customer review, 21st December 2015
This is for hardcore fans only, but if you are reading this you probably are one. Originally recorded to tapes these live shows have been dragged out from the archive boxes of custodian and band member Mark Cunningham and pressed onto vinyl, preserving their original low-fi recording quality and scuzzy-as-f*ck sound.
It’s curious as to why this has happened, as there already exists some higher quality recorded live shows on vinyl. I only picked this up as it was reduced to £13, which is more than it’s worth really. The packaging and notes are solid, the vinyl well pressed, but this really only serves a purpose as a historical document of their development. It’s interesting from that angle, but I doubt it’ll be getting more than a few spins from me. The sound quality is very poor but the joie-de-vie in the recordings shines through and saves it from re-sale. I think a boxset of cassette’s would have been the more logical and better way to go with releasing this planned trilogy. This vinyl trilogy seems to be mirroring the 3CS ‘Rehearsal Tapes and Alt-Takes NYC 1976-1978’ collection, the pattern of planned releases is the same chronological path, so even as a document of historical development this is going over very similar ground. In fact the first cassette of ‘Rehearsal Tapes’ is clearly more interesting and superior to this LP, so it’s even more confusing why this LP is here.
Sometimes mining the archives goes too far, and I think, even as much as I love Mars, this release represents that. Their ‘best’ release is the excellent ‘The Complete Studio Recordings NYV 1977 - 1978’. That is vastly more enjoyable and worth hunting down via eBay or Discogs.
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