For the past year, Third Man Records has been working closely with Touch and Go Records and the surviving members of Laughing Hyenas to craft deluxe vinyl reissues of the entire Laughing Hyenas’ catalog. The seminal Michigan group’s releases have been lovingly re-mastered for vinyl and cut by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering. Watch a teaser video for the reissue series below…
Meet John Brannon and Larissa (Stolarchuk) Strickland, front people of Negative Approachand L-Seven respectively. John and Larissa were the surrogate “Den Parents” of the Detroit punk rock and hardcore family in the early 80’s. They hosted many legendary shows at their place, known across the country as “The Clubhouse” located on the same block as TMR Cass Corridor. Both bands also shared the stage with virtually every touring punk and hardcore band that would dare to set foot in Detroit at The Freezer, The Clubhouse, Bookie’s, Clutch Cargos and The Graystone and anywhere else that would put on a show. One such show, L-Seven opened for Australian by way of England newcomers The Birthday Party featuring a young Nick Cave. It has been said that this show is the show that planted the (Bad) seed in John and Larissa’s heads, a (Bad) seed that would go on and grow into the criminally underrated but highly influential LAUGHING HYENAS.
The original line up of John (on vocals) and Larissa (switching to guitar), with the addition of the pocket-locked rhythm section of Kevin (Monroe) Strickland (bass) and Jim Kimball (drums) recorded Merry-Go-Round, You Can’t Pray A Lie and Life of Crime. These seminal 12″s and the live shows that this line up played around these releases are among the scariest music the world has ever heard or seen. Seriously, life changing stuff. Laughing Hyenas WERE the underground. Brannon had (STILL has) a howling shriek and stage presence unlike any other frontman in history, with the stare of a perverted street evangelist and voice full of pain like gargling shards of glass. Larissa was a guitar strangler in a very true sense. Highly original and influential, she wrangled possessed sounds out of that instrument that redefined what we think of as a “blues riff”. She made it scary and real. The rhythm section was downright frightening. Lock tight hillbilly refugees from the hardcore scene.
The HYENAS stormed across the country and the world and made instant musically sympathetic pals with other fledgling bands / boundary pushers like Sonic Youth, Scream, Mudhoney, Minutemen, Husker Du, Pussy Galore, Die Kreuzen and Fugazi. A peer group that suited them quite well.
After the departure of Kevin and Jim to form Mule, John and Larissa added Kevin Reis on Bass and Founding Necros Drummer Todd Swalla for the every bit as fierce Crawl ep. Their final LP, Hard Times, saw one more line up change. Kevin Reis left and one time Gerbil and Necros Ron Sakowski stepped in.
All the Laughing Hyenas records were originally released (and continue to be available digitally) on Chicago-via-Detroit label Touch and Go Records (our partner on these vinyl re-issues). Touch and Go’s catalog also includes the early ‘80s Negative Approach and L-Seven records. Third Man has been working very closely with Corey Rusk and Touch and Go Records as well as the surviving members of the band to make sure that these reissues get the attention they deserve. Each record will include unseen photos and images of “Damn, that would have been a sick show!” flyers as well as testimonials/thoughts/stories/liners by Thurston Moore, Butch Vig, Brian Turner, Ben Swank, Aaron Dilloway, Allyson Baker to name just a few.
- Merry-Go-Round – 2xLP edition will include all 6 cuts from the 1987 vinyl debut, as well as the 5 bonus tracks that were included on the 1995 CD release.
- You Can’t Pray A Lie – A straight reissue of the 1989 release. The Hyenas didn’t record throwaways
- Life Of Crime – Bonus track “Save Me Tomorrow” has been unheard by anyone — seriously, anyone — since it was recorded during the LOC studio sessions. Band and Butch had all but forgotten about this one.
- Crawl – Bonus: 4 tracks from the covers “bootleg” EP
- Hard Times – bonus track “Shine” from the Jabberjaw comp.