80's Punk/New Wave Girl-Group the Contractions Giving Birth to Triplets

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On September 3rd, 2006 The Contractions, an all female trio that was formed in the 80's and is still packing clubs, will simultaneously release a CD on their Q and D Music, Inc label entitled "Live at Lennon 2000" plus a CD and DVD both entitled "Live at S.I.R. 1981". Three is the magic number.

It seems like everyone these days is making a comeback. Alice In Chains is doing a reunion tour, Kylie Minogue, having won a battle with breast cancer, is back on the road, even Vanilla Ice has his own makeover reality TV show. But as LL Cool J says, "Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years!" Many artists drop out of the limelight, sometimes for decades, only to come back with a vengeance, having honed their craft while seemingly out of the picture. In Jazz they call it "wood-shedding."

Take the Contractions, one of the first all-female rock bands to establish a national presence: the trio burned across the Punk/New Wave scene from 1979 through 1985 with critical acclaim, headlining clubs and opening stadium shows for the likes of Duran Duran. Misunderstood by major labels who didn't know how to package their rough and tumble sound, the members eventually got busy with other musical pursuits as well as little things like running a non profit organization –– bassist Kathy Peck is the executive director of H.E.A.R., a hearing health organization that was started with help from Pete Townsend of the Who. Periodically the band rejoined up for reunion gigs, always packed to the rafters with their die-hard fans who never forgot the energy of a Contractions show.

Some of these shows were recorded and the tapes have been recently unearthed. Tapes that had been missing for years were discovered locked away in a garage by the Contractions stage manager/guitar tech. With the help of mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine and engineer/producer David Denny we baked and transferred the tapes into protools.

So, on September 3rd the Contractions will release not one, not two, but three (3!) new discs –– two CDs and a DVD on their Q and D Music, Inc label. The discs are entitled "Live at Lennon 2000" and "Live at SIR 1981", the latter being the name of both CD and DVD.

All three discs will be available at their record release party that night at Slim's 333 Club in San Francisco and online via their website the Contractions.com and CD Baby with retail distribution to follow.

"Live at Lennon 2000" CD was recorded at Lennon Studios in San Francisco by Former Steve Miller Band member David Denny who mixed and mastered the CD and shares production credit with the band. The 8 songs range from the aggressive and poignantly political "Early Warning" to the personal and oddly electronic "Pictures" in which guitarist Mary Kelly blows a mysterious analog wind synthesizer called a Steiner, to the rock steady infused rhythm of "No Matter." Razor tight, with an almost mathematical obsession in the arrangements, the message is clear -- this band has chops. “Live at Lennon 2000” is available on the Contractions.com and CD Baby.

"Live at S.I.R. 1981" -- both the 6 track CD and 9 track DVD of the same name -- were recorded and filmed at Studio Instrument Rentals in San Francisco. Flush with cash from their extensive touring, the band threw a huge party, telling everyone that the show would come out as an E.P. The party was followed by some overdub sessions and mixed at a house in the woods north of San Francisco. The portable 16-track studio was contained in an old step van and the owner/engineer rather enjoyed the band skinny-dipping in the pool, then running in to do some more work... in the nude. Secretly referring to the "nude mixes," the band was pleased as punch with the recordings. But just as they were to release the record, a new member joined the group -- the short-lived fourth Contraction keyboardist, Kim Morris. Now that the dynamics of the band had changed, they felt that the record no longer represented the direction the group was headed. So they didn't release the E.P. "This was a huge mistake because it was vintage stuff that truly captured what we were up to in those early years, and it ROCKED!" said Contractions' drummer Debbie Hopkins. Shortly afterward, the tapes disappeared, only to resurface 15 years later.

Also on the Live at S.I.R. CD is a rare special appearance by Sarah McNair, who plays saxophone on an untitled bonus track that was never performed in public but recorded later at an improv session, also at S.I.R. (The track's title has been left to the imagination of the audience for it's "mature content.") “Live at S.I.R.1981” is available on the Contractions.com and CD Baby.

The DVD version of "Live at S.I.R. 1981" is a flashback to the eighties San Francisco punk scene. See if you can spot punk legends like the VKTMS and the "Pope of Punk" Dirk Dirksen, the famous "Fab Mab" (the Mabuhay Gardens club) impresario who ran Dead Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra's 1980 campaign for Mayor of San Francisco and Paige Hodel, a popular San Francisco DJ. Available soon at theContractions.com and CD Baby.

Also available in limited quantity via the band's website are the original vinyl pressings and t-shirts from their early days. The band will be signing their first edition CDs at the Slim's record release party on September 3rd.

The Contractions are back, and this time, it's personal.

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Kathy Peck
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