Matilda Mother b/w My Limbic System

May 1995


To purchase this 7" vinyl single, please visit Dive Records

Who is who (and what is what)

Produced by Jim Santo
Engineered by Al Houghton
Recorded at Dubway Studios, NYC
Designed by Carole Filangieri

Matilda Mother

Johnny Farrow (bass, backing vocals): Owner of the most distorted and rubbery bass sound in NYC, Johnny gives the band Philco Bendyx its soulful high harmonies. He also sang on "Limbic."

James Mastro (bouzouki): Mastro was guitarist and vocalist for one of my favorite Hoboken bands, The Bongos. He currently leads The Health and Happiness Show (I'm hoping he'll get Richard Lloyd to play on TOD4). A newly bald Mastro also played e-bow on "Limbic."

Daron Murphy (guitar): A very peculiar fellow, the Philco Bendyx guitarist can be heard in your right ear.

Debbie Schwartz (backing vocals): Formerly of the Aquanettas, Airlines and Cardinal Woolsey, Debbie now fronts Marella Splendens.

Eddie Siino (drums, backing vocals): Eddie's powerful updating of Nick Mason's part convinced me to recruit him as Andy's replacement in JC. My upstairs neighbor continues to record and perform with Cryptic Soup and order the appetizers Friday nights at Empire Of India.

George Usher (vocals, organ): George fronts the George Usher Band and plays organ for The Schramms. He's also co-written songs with Kate Jacobs and The Bongos and is a true original. George contributed calliope synth and organ to "Limbic," with help from Johnny.

Jim Santo played guitar in your left ear and went "ch-ahh."

My Limbic System (Is Fucked)

Rick D'Anjollel (piece of wood): Former leader of Philadelphia's Almighty Shuhorn, Rick now performs solo with a guitar synthesizer. The "piece of wood" actually was two chunks of a broken bass guitar.

Andy Moore (drums): One hour after I finished mixing the song, Andy announced that he was quitting after five years as Jenifer Convertible's drummer to take a job in Maine. This is probably the last recording of JC with Andy on drums. I miss him already.

Michael "Sport" Murphy (tam-tam): Sport broke up The Skels in late 1994 and is now recording a solo album. Evidence Of A Struggle, a Skels best-of CD, has just been released on Mystery Fez Records.

James Pertusi (bass): Bassist for JC, James is a gentle soul and one of the funniest humans alive.

Lenny Zenith (guitar): Lead singer for Jenifer Convertible and a true friend.

Jim Santo sang lead and backing vocals and played guitar with cramped fingers.

So much for every 100 days.

It's been a year since the release of TOD2, and my original timetable lies rotting in a grave of insufficient funds, time and energy.

But hey, sticking to a goal would be work, and that's one thing Time Or Dirt is not. This is play, folks, plain and simple. It's friends, old and new, gathered in a spirit of "barely disguised tension" (to quote Andy Moore) to produce a record that won't have the slightest impact on anyone's careers.

In my humble opinion, this is the best TOD single yet, from the performance to the production to Carole's outstanding cover art, it almost seems like a "real" record. Which is ironic, considering the insane conditions under which it was made.

A month before the sessions, I still had no idea what I was going to record. I knew George Usher would sing, James Mastro would play bouzouki, James Pertusi would play bass and Eddie Siino would be the drummer, but hadn't settled on any other musicians. I'd already considered and rejected such ideas as a country & western version of Yoko Ono's "Mind Train" or a remake of Frank Zappa's "Flower Punk" and was really at a loss.

Two events helped me decide.

My friend Ted Shuttleworth from Los Angeles sent me a postcard of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett (Ted is writing a screenplay based on Syd's life). Around the same time, my mother, Ellen Santo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and moved into a nursing home — a wrenching emotional experience from which I'm still recovering.

It all came together one night at the Fez, where George was playing with his band. Hearing his high, quavery voice...noting his resemblance to Barrett....thinking about my mother...slugging down one beer too many...then it struck me — Matilda Mother!

The B-side was picked in true Time Or Dirt fashion. I asked Sport if he had an unused song that I could record. He offered "My Limbic System (Is Fucked)" and I accepted it on the basis of the title alone. Fortunately for both of us, it turned out to be a good song.

Once I had the tunes, it was easy to fill out the bands. Daron and Johnny were a natural for "Matilda," and I recruited Jenifer Convertible to back me on "Limbic" just because it was the easiest thing to do. Remember, this isn't supposed to be work.

Basic tracks were recorded May 11 with about a dozen musicians, friends and assorted oddballs packed into Dubway's cozy space (you can hear the besotted crowd applauding at the end of "Limbic"). My most enduring memory of that night is of Sport, cigarette dangling from his lips, punching a tam-tam during the chorus of "Limbic."

We did vocals and overdubs on May 14. Debbie Schwartz dropped by briefly to nail some high harmonies, and Rick D'Anjollel, fulfilling a promise made a year ago, drove up from North Carolina just to bang on a piece of wood. On May 23, Mastro laid down bouzouki and E-bow and I mixed "Matilda." A week later, I returned to mix "Limbic" in a rushed, two-hour session that resulted in one perfect take.

Well, that's the tale. I don't know when another Time Or Dirt will appear, and I'll make no more promises. But you can be certain there will be another, and another after that. This is too much fun to stop.

Jim Santo
July 1995