There’s still no reason why chicks in bands play bass more frequently than other instruments. If someone can explain that – and surely, someone can in a weird sociological manner – go right ahead. It’d be interesting. While you’re doing that, though, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to listen to Bloomington, Indiana’s Dancing Cigarettes, which was a part of the Gulcher stable and made an appearance on the inimitable Red Snerts compilation back in 1981.
Over the years, a pair of compilations have cropped up in attempts to properly collect that band’s record works, 1980-1981: The Gulcher Recordings being the latest. Of course, “Broken Windows,” from the aforementioned Red Snerts disc is included. The song isn’t exactly representational of the band as a whole, but since Dancing Cigarettes didn’t seem to have a concerted sound at work, that shouldn’t be a surprise. This track, though, goes off as more aggressive than some of the funkier works the band turned in over time. It’s not hardcore, to be certain, but fellow Bloomington residents, the Zero Boys, would have done well to have a set of pipes as ferocious as these.
Collecting the remainder of the band’s studio output, which only includes one single, a number of live tracks are tacked on to the end of the disc, comprising a larger portion of its runtime than anything else. These live features, though, find Dancing Cigarettes sounding as assured as in the studio. One could even make the argument that the first half of “Eggs Any Style/Diet Of Worms,” an instrumental affair, ranks as the bands defining moment. Granted, it’s only about two and a half minutes worth of music. But in that time, Dancing Cigarettes rave up a funky back beat, the keyboards function as simple melody for a bit before devolving into willfully artsy noise and the guitar slashes through the rest of it.
What’s most surprising about 1980-1981: The Gulcher Recordings isn’t that the band’s been forgotten for no good reason, but that the recording quality during that live set outstrips a number of works from contemporaries in their garages. Maybe the college town had a handful of properly educated sound design folks. Who knows what the reason is. But if Midwestern underground rock stuff from that latter portion of the punk era’s something getting air time in your car or on your headphones, Dancing Cigarettes might rank as required listening.