Giving Thanks / Thanks Giving
Zaius Tapes opens 2023 with a reissue that few if any would have predicted. The Hams’ legendary and elusive sole release was promoted — as an exclusive — through Systematic via the backdoor in the summer of 1987 amidst the distributor’s fog of bankruptcy. The Hams’ label, Down And Out, was equally mysterious, having previously released one LP (Prominent Disturbance) and one cassette (The Turks) to little or no fanfare. Since none of the Systematic sales staff at the time have any memory of carrying these titles, the shroud of speculation only enhances their existence. The Hams 12" did receive a hale and hearty endorsement in the pages of Forced Exposure at the time, comparing them to (surprise!) The Smashchords. Accurate enough, let’s face it, there wasn’t a whole lot out there for this to stick to. However, there was no real way to get the thing. Adorned in a plain white disco sleeve, presumably the few that got out into the wild before the Chapter 11 axe came down were as in-store play copies. No one has an idea about how many were originally pressed, either. All of this helping to build its quiddity among collectors. The Smashchords comparison notwithstanding, The Hams 12" is every bit as much of an anomaly. Literally two dudes on guitar and drum, jamming. No vocals, just heart. It could have easily come out on SST in its waning, Byzantine era, sounding like Painted Willie collapsing into a black hole of Turkish barbarism. Or...