Souvenirs [Revisited] album notes:
Special thanks to:
Chris Hutchinson, bassist and sometimes guitarist and keyboardist who co-wrote a lot of the early material and had a profound effect in the shaping of Second Language as an improvisational band.
Rick Winward, whose ability on drums as well as keyboards and bass added a powerful, unique versatility to the band’s instrument-swapping improvisations and performances.
Ron Fair, then-A&R man for Chrysalis Records, who produced the 1984 Second Language 5-song vinyl Souvenirs EP including three songs recorded in late 1983 (Souvenirs, Forbidden Fruit, and Tell-Tale Heart), two reworked Earle Mankey/Second Language-produced songs from earlier in the year and a dance mix of the title track Souvenirs featured on the B-side of the EP.
Earle Mankey who co-produced the band’s first 4-song studio demo, which is included here in its entirety including the initial versions of In Absentia and World Outside My Door as well as a quirky reworking of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s My Favorite Things and band favorite Afraid Of The Dark, the latter two tracks featuring Toni Zeto’s recorded debut with the band.
Deon Vozov, who kindly stepped in for live performances on bass and additional keyboards following Chris Hutchinson’s departure in late 1983 until early 1984 when Jarrett Lesko and Brian Bielski (replacing Rick Winward) joined.
Scott Bledsoe, who played bass for one gig with the band – but what a gig it was, opening for 2L hero Howard Devoto at the Palace in Hollywood in 1983, at which the band received an ovation and played a memorable encore.
Album notes by Jessie Jacobson
The Souvenirs EP was Second Language’s only vinyl release and came out in 1984. Two of the songs were drawn from the band’s first studio recording sessions in early 1983 with co-producer/engineer Earle Mankey at his Shock The Mankey Studio (actually Earle’s Garage – we came up with the alternate punning name) in Thousand Oaks, CA. Earle was amazing to work with, willing to indulge every one of our harebrained schemes and the four resulting tracks truly made us realize we were a strong studio band as well as a powerful live unit.
The demo and gigs led to a round of record company interest and Ron Fair, then an A&R man for Chrysalis Records, offered to produce three new songs for us. We enjoyed working with Ron but it was under very different circumstances than the Earle sessions – Ron was the producer and directed the band to a much greater degree than Earle. Though we all got along fine, he was looking for hits whereas we just wanted to make great music. The initial mixes of the three songs sounded great but lacked the power or imagination of the earlier recordings, let alone the band's potent live sound.
Fortunately by the time we got together the money to release the EP independently, Ron agreed to a reworking of the tracks – primarily bringing in a more guitar-oriented sound, lots of percussion, clarinet and an increased role for Toni’s vocals. Additionally, by that time Jarrett Lesko (bass) and Brian Bielski (drums) had replaced departing members Chris Fudurich and Rick Winward and we wanted to include them on the EP. Ron’s enthusiasm for the band’s eclectic style made for a spirited production and while it was a shame it didn’t result in his signing the band, the EP did garner some national airplay and positive reviews.
The only songs on this set to feature Jarrett and Brian were Souvenirs and the dance mix version of the same track (to which they overdubbed bass and percussion, respectively), however they appeared on the EP cover and in all related advertisements, and remained the band’s rhythm section from then on. Essentially, this full-length album, re-titled Souvenirs [Revisited], for obvious reasons, features the initial lineup(s) of the band – the four-piece Jacobson/Faulkner/Hutchinson/Winward version and the subsequent five-piece with Toni Zeto’s addition as co-lead vocalist.
Toni features as co-lead vocalist on the EP and the two bonus tracks derived from the Earle Mankey sessions (My Favorite Things and Afraid Of The Dark).
The remainder of the bonus tracks are comprised of 1982 four-track and eight track demo recordings of the original foursome recorded primarily in rehearsal spaces and my living room. While the sound quality of the demos is obviously not of a professional level, they are decent enough given we were neither professional engineers nor producers at that stage and the equipment we used was fairly primitive even by the standards of the time. There were further demos from the 1981-1982 era not featured on this album owing to time restrictions and the fact that the remaining tracks were all earlier versions of tracks included on Souvenirs [Revisited].
The truth is we had enough good material compiled by early 1983 to complete two full-length albums pre-Souvenirs but simply couldn’t afford the studio time or convince the record labels we could make them money. Fortunately we pooled our resources and chose to work with Earle and later Ron, both of whom did justice to the material. We worked again two years later with Earle and recorded the fifteen tracks that make up the Youth Is Not For Pleasure (1985) album/CD and its six bonus tracks.
The five-piece line-up stayed together through mid-1986 when Jerome Faulkner departed. Toni Zeto left in mid-1987 but Jarrett, Brian and myself played together for another decade before finally calling it quits but not before leaving behind plenty of other recorded music, most of which can be found on the CDs we're releasing between 2018 and 2021, Second Language's 40th anniversary. Thanks for coming along for the ride.