True Facts (the liner notes to Something Quick – updated a bit with Revenge info at the end)
Something Quick was originally released by GMR on cassette in 1986. This edition is remastered and restored to full glory, with 6 bonus tracks added. Why put out this old pre-grunge Seattle stuff now? Easy. It rocks like the devil himself.
James and Kip have been friends since they were wee lads growing up together in Bellevue, Washington, a Seattle ‘burb (some of the Queen Annes gear still bears the proud insignia of Bellevue School District, where all Q.A. members past and present are alums). A lifelong friendship based on appreciation of great music began. Young James devised a crude drum kit from a wastebasket and a stout cardboard box and practiced along to his favorite records by the Stones, Who and Zeppelin. Meanwhile, Kip had started taking up the guitar. They played together casually for the next several years while playing in other bands. James had become an impressively smashing drummer and cut his teeth gigging with The Cheaters, masterminded by Kurt and Al Bloch. Yes, Kurt of the Fastbacks and Fellows. Yes, Al of Concrete Blonde and Wool. No, James did not play on The Cheaters single. Kip played in bands with Paul Hood (Meyce/Toiling Midgets) and Greg Ragen.
Kip and James decided it was time at last to form The Queen Annes. They got Toby to play bass and a guy named Lance Taft to play guitar. Their first recording effort was the marvelous cassette single included here, “Secret Agent Kid” b/w “Mary” which they recorded with Doug Rayburn of Pavlov’s Dog somewhere or the other in West Seattle. Not many people heard it. They shared a rehearsal space with NW punk legends the Fartz, which was as unpleasant as one might imagine. The original line-up performed to a packed house at the Bellevue Community College Student Union, thus beginning a long reign of good luck with all-ages concert settings. It was time for a singer.
TO’C: Kip and I met in a class called instrumental workshop at Bellevue High School. James played in all the school bands and was already playing shows with various bands including the Cheaters. He was already sort of a rock star to me. He wore leather and drove a Cutlass convertible. If someone streaked on campus he was the first one called into the principal’s office even if he was innocent. The first time I saw The Queen Annes, they played as a trio at a pool party before hiring my buddy Lance Taft as a guitarist. The second time I saw them was at Bellevue Community College at the Strawberry Jam Festival with Mr. Epp and the Calculations. Mr. Epp were awful (as intended! – td) but the Queen Annes were awesome until James fell through the plate glass window behind his drum kit. I had just got back from England where I witnessed punk rockers for the first time and the Queen Annes embraced a lot of that same energy. I was smitten. When Lance learned that the boys were considering hiring a singer he suggested I should audition which was fun, but I didn’t hear back from anyone until I was at the 1980 Rolling Stones concert at the Kingdome. I ran into Kip who informed me I got the job. I was thrilled to see the Stones and get into a cool band all in the same day. Kip and James wrote songs both collaboratively and separately and they were absolutely sure how they wanted the songs sung. They were taskmasters and I quickly grew to appreciate their perfectionism.
After two months of grueling rehearsals, the new line-up emerged good friends and a tight, energy-packed unit.
Around that time Kip and James were evicted from their duplex for throwing television sets off the second story balcony. On that same day, Tom spotted a big old pink house in an alley on Capitol Hill with a “For Rent” sign in the window. He called James, who rushed over, took one look at the dilapidated mansion and called the number in the window. Everyone agrees Earl T. Ball must regret the day he picked up the phone and rented his house to The Queen Annes and their entourage of punks, hippies, girlfriends, groupies, bums, strangers, hanger-ons and ne’er do wells who inhabited it for most of the 1980s. The party never stopped. After a few months, the conventional living room was scrapped to make way for a bar that was built for easy keg access. When they were done with their set they would bring most of the audience home for a keg, leaving the headliners to fend for themselves without an audience. Every room at the pink house had a turntable; here is a cross section of what would be spinning; The Jam, The Clash, Bowie, Stiff Little Fingers, The Pretenders, Prince, Bebop Deluxe, Blondie, The Replacements, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Stones, The Beach Boys, Big Star, and tons more.
Through the pink house door (when it was on its hinges), piled throngs eager to party with The Queen Annes, including members of Seattle’s culty Love Family (a.k.a. Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon), Duran Duran, Guns’n’Roses, and local punks the Bopo Boys, who were all sent home crying to mama with wicked hangovers (Bopo Boys? read about ’em in Stephan Tow’s “The Strangest Tribe: How A Group of Seattle Rock Bands Invented Grunge”).
The lads secured shows with NW spawn like The Heats, Moberleys, Fastbacks, Silly Killers, Refuzors, Miracle Workers and touring dudes like the Three O’Clock. Venturing into the great Northwest, The Queen Annes had heavy pockets of fans in both Bellingham and Portland. They would often show up half an hour before they were scheduled to play at Lake Hills Skate Center battle of the bands. This would infuriate the roadies of quasi-metal bands including Rail, Kidskin, TKO, Myth and Hellion who had been at the venue all day loading in trucks of Marshall amps and quadruple bass drum sets. The boys would set up their gear in fifteen minutes, and at first their small amps and Ringo style drum kit seemed dwarfed by the stacks around them, but when they started to play, they were just as damn loud and powerful as the metal dudes.
Playing in bars was where it was at for the band. Although performances were arranged at all the clubs and taverns in the area, the band opted to concentrate its efforts on playing shows where the fans under 21 could attend. This led the group to produce twenty shows at the U.C.T. Hall in Seattle during the mid-eighties. This venue proved to be valuable to the band because they assumed complete control over every aspect of the productions, served beer to minors, turned them on to punk rock, and then could watch them destroy the place. The hall would always be secured for two days so the band could repair the evening’s damages.
KP: Craziest show number one might be the night we opened for Myth at the Showbox. Myth would later become Queensryche. The show was poorly attended, but after we played someone approached us and asked us if we would play at a party nearby. It turned out that the party was for a bunch of high-end escort girls, one of whom was a girl named Mary, coincidentally the girl who inspired the song Mary. I had met her some years earlier at a party – it was the first song I ever wrote. TO’C: The craziest -Polish Hall with the Fastbacks and the Fartz. There was a lot of blood everywhere.
GMR Prez Tom Dyer became interested in the group and started recording them in 1983. From the earliest of these sessions comes the single the single “I Thought of You/This Is That” which was named #65 on the NW All-Time Top 100 in The Rocket magazine in 1988 or so. (“I Thought of You” in included here, “This is That” is a bonus download track – why? We like the 4 track version better and used it!). The single was recorded at then-trendy Triangle Studios with The Enemy’s Peter Barnes engineering. The band felt much more comfortable when they started recording in the cozy confines of Tom’s basement studio where the Something Quick sessions were produced, with Dyer engineering. The first sessions were recorded on 4-track reel-to-reel – “I Could Tell You” was included on the first ever Green Monkey release a cassette comp called “Local Product.” The studio was upgraded to 8-tracks for the rest of the tunes featured here.
Between the two sessions, Toby Keil left the band to move to LA and join the Moberlys with Jim Basnight. John Carey(who is the brains behind Roslyn geniuses and current GMR artists, The OF) was brought on board to replace him and has been there ever since. KP: When Toby quit to join the Moberlys we were slowed down for a while. Pete Dempsey was our temporary bass player but we found a better fit with John who was playing with The World Outside. We had played a gig with them outside Swenson’s ice cream in Bellevue. We saw him at a party we were playing and asked him to join the band. TO’C: I would see John walking around Bellevue with an acoustic guitar and I saw one of his bands at a party. Over a couple of beers in a park I convinced John we needed him as our permanent guy and he agreed.
It should also be noted that the harp player on these recordings is their longtime pal Lightning Joe. KP: We played at a party at Joe’s house in Bellevue for his birthday, when his parents were out of town, and we did a blazing rendition of Jimi Hendrix’ Red House, the only blues number in our repertoire, and Joe being a big blues fan started playing with us. The harp was a nice addition in a band that was essentially a power trio with a singer. TO’C: Joe would do a lot for our band including play harp. He was always making whatever makeshift stage we had look good with lights, sirens and smoke.
Since the 80’s the Queen Annes have been an off and on proposition. In 1994 they to recorded tracks for what would become “The Mire” album in 1997 (available from Vagrant Records) in John Carey’s barn in Roslyn. Also in ‘97 they recorded a new album Revenge with Erik 4-A, which still awaits a proper release.
After a hiatus, in 2009 they “got the band back together” to play the record release party for The Green Monkey Records Anthology: It Crawled From The Basement. They were great. They still play occasionally, both as themselves and as their alter ego blues band, Last of the Steam Powered Trains. TO’C: The Steams are a blues band in the tradition of Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. I think it is an effort to keep the blues alive – Kip can actually sing these songs. KP: Last of the Steam Powered Trains started as my pet project – always wanted to start a blues, blues rock band. This type of music is a sort of obsession of mine. We are having a blast.
In 2013 they recorded a version of Roy Wood’s I Wish It Was Christmas Every Day for Green Monkey’s annual Christmas album. They are considering finally releasing Revenge in the not distant future.
Update! Revenge was retitled Released and released in 2016.
TD: Did you think this album would ever see the light of day?
Kip: Yes, I knew it would eventually come out.
TD: What was the process of recording this album like?
James: About three days in the studio. We made up songs right outside the studio with an acoustic guitar.
Kip: John wrote lyrics for “Underneath the Light” about an hour before we recorded his vocal.
Thomas: We were also brought in as guinea pigs ‘cause 4A had a new machine he had to troubleshoot.
Kip: We are not the fastest working band. The record took a while to record but the QAs tracked it quick and Erik was not slow with the mix and overdubs. Basically as he is saying goodbye to me he lets me do my vocals on the way out the door.
James: “We Picked A Good Day” was recorded at the Art Institute of Seattle studio.
TD: What made you decide to add horns and strings for this album?
Kip: Erik had a lot to do with getting the horns and strings together.
James: Erick 4-A said that he could get the musicians, and I thought that it added a unique sound, especially on “Circus Train.”
Thomas: I was at Vagrant when the horn section recorded. Ian had an arrangement for everyone written for 2 and was writing up the third one during breaks. He had something going and they took 3 or 4 takes on each one but when they hit it they all agreed that was it. It took a few hours and Erik was really awesome and positive with those folks. He showed me a little something that day.
TD: Kip said that this is an album about death and something. What is it about?
Kip: The part about death is that six of our friends died that year and it was definitely on our minds. Some songs more than others.
TD: What inspired you to pick the two Bee Gees songs?
Thomas: James would play me Horizontal at the pink house up in his room. He was also REALLY into the Hollies’ “Bus Stop” and “Carrie Anne” at the time!
James: Because of how great they really sound. The ’60’s Bee Gees had phenomenal vocals and a real ‘family’ sound.
Kip: We had had those two Bee Gees songs in our set for a long time. We recorded them because we wanted to submit them for a BG tribute album that was coming out but we missed the deadline. With those in the can we figured we might as well work on a new album. Everyone pulled together what we had.
TD: If you record another album will it be new stuff or old stuff?
Old stuff! Beautiful songs that have been written for a long, long time that would be a shame to throw away. We already have a list started
Thomas: We’ve got 3-4 mid-era tunes that need to be recorded. Probably a coupla oldies and a coupla new compositions. “Naked Man,” “Roomful O’ Monkeys,” “Same Sad Story” should be recorded.
Some sweet press from http://growboredbigscott62.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-queen-annes.html
THE QUEEN ANNES
From the late 70’s right through to the mid 90’s, some of the greatest bands in power pop history were from Seattle. Bands such as Exploding Hearts, Super Deluxe, Sparkler and the greatest Seattle power pop band of all time, The Heats.
Not to be overlooked in the power pop craze at the time, Mod Pop counterparts The Queen Annes released a cassette in the early 80’s entitled Something Quick. I recall really enjoying their sound, one that had all the drive and unbridled energy of The Who. The way I understand it, they tried to follow up on the release in 1997 with a full length LP entitled Revenge. However, like so many worthwhile recordings of that time, the project was shelved.
THE QUEEN ANNES IN THE BIG TAKEOVER
From The Big Takeover #79: The Queen Annes – Released! (Green Monkey)
The Queen Annes were an utterly unheralded pop/rock talent in their native Seattle circa the ‘80s and ‘90s, who not only failed to sound like they were representative of their pigeonholed locale, but of their era altogether. Perhaps they weren’t as deliberate as I perceive, but the Annes were plugged into a retro-fitted, paisley-smacked, Brit Invasion motif that placed them more in league with the Lilys and Grip Weeds then say, Mudhoney. Released!, cut in 1997-98, is now available to the public at large for the first time. Wielding a multi-dimensional aplomb, the quartet traipses through varying gradations of psych and Mersey pop with truly winsome results on a rendition of the early Bee Gees “The Earnest Of Being George,” and further in the considerably sparer original “Lady of the Waves,” with oodles of meandering in between. A cover of the Beach Boys “This Whole World,” and yet another ancient Bee Gees tune, “Harry Braff” will further clue you into where the Annes’ collective headspace was situated at the nadir of the grunge epoch. (greenmonkeyrecords.com)
QUEEN ANNES ROCK THE DAGGER-ZINE!
Sweet QA Review.
A few years ago this obscure Seattle band released some old recordings entitled Something Quick 1980-1986 (on Green Monkey) that was terrific. Well, a decade after those recordings the band released their sophomore effort, The Mire, on Vagrant Records (not the label out of L.A., this Vagrant Records is out of Seattle). After The Mire the band recorded another record, #3, that was going to be titled Revenge! ,but it got shelved for unknown reasons and sat dormant for nearly two decades. Well, here it is and I must say, it’s great! These guys had a real pop sensibility taking elements of 60’s British Invasion stuff plus mod, power pop, new wave and a touch of punk. There’s horns all over the record and the arrangements are spot on. Cuts like “Circus Train” and “It’s not My Life’ would make at least as big a splash as GBV did back in those mid 1990’s but more people need to hear ‘em. This has the original albums eleven cuts plus they tack on three covers at the end, a Beach Boys and two Bee Gees (both from Horizontal). If I haven’t made it clear yet Released! needs to be heard by all pop ears. Make that all ears period.
Recorded in 1997 and 1998 and not made available for another 18 years, The Queen Annes have finally released an album that has been in the metaphorical vault until now and we get a chance to hear it. Released! (Green Monkey) is music from a Seattle band that doesn’t sound like your stereotypical Seattle band but then again, when has a Seattle band every sounded like one another? Exactly, and The Queen Annes mix up nice hints of pop with rock to create something that sounds like a mixture of Everclear, Teenage Funclub, The Fastbacks, and Soul Asylum but in songs like “Caught Underneath The Light” and “I Owe You Nothing”, the horn section helps it appeal to Neil Young fans, or at least those Young fans who like it when he mixes up rock with R&B. It’s nice and gritty music you’d expect to hear in a nightclub when you need to be let out of your misery, so you could say the title of the album has a bit of an unintentional double meaning. What is Released! is more than just that, and maybe this is the music in your heart that needs to get out.
Music Review: The Queen Annes – ‘Something Quick: 1980-1985’ [Remastered]
More than likely, if you weren’t living around Seattle or its suburbs in the ’80s you haven’t heard the music of The Queen Annes. But if there is such a thing as nostalgic pleasure from music you’ve never heard, the Green Monkey re-release of the band’s 1986 (and previously cassette-only) compilation, Something Quick: 1980-1985, may well provide it for listeners of the right age. The Queen Annes are one of those bands that rock locally but never really make it big. They’re fun to listen to; their songs and their playing are no better, no worse than many that manage to get national airplay. The band doesn’t tour the big name venues. They play for a while, and then their playing becomes more sporadic, and eventually they seem to vanish.
And that’s a shame, because they and many of their tunes on Something Quick deserve better. Sure, some are silly and derivative, but when have silly and derivative been problems for pop success? And if their music brings pleasant back memories of a time when the world seemed like a simpler place-after all there were always times when the world seemed simpler-why complain? That said, if you’re fond of BG (Before Grunge) rock of the kind perpetrated by The Who and Led Zeppelin, you might well find Queen Annes a band to your taste.
Something Quick, with 20 tunes, 14 remastered/restored, and six bonus tracks weighing in at an hour and 15 minutes, gives you plenty to pick from. The only cover on the set is a previously unreleased version of Little Richard‘s “Lucille,” and if they don’t quite make you forget Mr. Penniman, they don’t embarrass themselves. And if, in some tunes, you hear familiar guitar riffs in unfamiliar places, they often work, humorously perhaps, as in “Secret Agent Kid,” or seriously as in “Give ‘Em the Right Look.” Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt.
Vocals are mostly handled by Tom O’Connell, who has a voice that many a rock idol might covet. Kip Phillips is on guitar and James Gascoigne works the drums; they seem to have written most of the band’s material. John Carey plays bass on the first seven tracks, with Toby Keil on the rest. Joe Meyering plays harmonica on two songs.
The Queen Annes represent the kind of rock’n’roll I was introduced to as a new resident of the Pacific Northwest 30 years ago this year. Moving to the mainland was an opportunity to hear and know more about my surroundings and while Seattle would end up being 200 miles away for me, I regarded it as the distant local music scene. They were a band who one could read about in The Rocket back then, and 30+ years later we’re able to hear what they left behind with a great compilation called Something Quick: 1980-1985 (Green Monkey). The title itself may refer to the song of the same name, which opens this compilation, but seeing as this collection is also being promoted as a reflection of what was the pre-grunge scene and sound of Seattle, it is a timepiece but one that deserves to be examined and heard again. The music is incredibly tight for a group who called Bellevue, Washington their home, and some of this sounds like a band who immersed themselves in hours of listening to Tho Who, very loud and raunchy when they want to be. What I also hear in songs like “It’s Cool With Me”, “If You Could Only See Me Now”, and “Lucille” is the kind of songwriting and craftsmanship in the music that came from Arthur Lee and Love, where things are playful but were sculpted in a way for listeners to listen, think, then listen many times over.
Those who only know Seattle for grunge may be pleasantly surprised by the beauty and power of these songs, and perhaps Seattleites will be surprised too, for The Queen Annes were always on “the other side” of music back when almost everything that came from the city was considered “the other side”. At least with time and perspective, we’re now able to hear how moving these songs were and are, and be dumbfounded at how they didn’t get a chance to break through nationally or internationally, like so many bands from the early 80’s did in the dawn of MTV. Maybe back then, this was considered too collegiate, too unpolished, too “add whatever word that fits” but now it’s what we miss, what we long for, but what we’re able to put on repeat through the Something Quick comp. Perhaps people will look to them as an inspiration.