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Denfeld News

August 24, 2008
Duluth Budgeteer News

Back when ‘Duluth Rocked,’ there was QuickBreath
By Matthew R. Perrine

“We hear so much now about how Duluth has this great music scene,” Tracy Lundeen explains, “and we do, we have a pretty talented music base here, but it’s kind of neat for some of those people to realize that, hey, it wasn’t just Bob Dylan that came out of this city.”

Four years ago, Lundeen and business partner Jeff Jarvinen did fans of the Northland scene a huge favor when they unveiled Duluth Rocked.

The media group’s first release, “Vol. 3” (read on…), compiled local artists’ songs that had seen radio play between the years 1970 and 1981. Not only was it nice to finally have these tracks in one place, but many of the songs included — like QuickBreath’s “Yours” and Guided Tour’s “In a World Full of Fright” — had never even appeared on CD before.

“We thought it would really be a fun idea to preserve for posterity all of this local music that was recorded — ’cause there was a lot of it, and there was some pretty good stuff,” Lundeen said. “Back in the late ’50s, early ’60s, there was just a huge music explosion with rock ‘n’ roll in every community. I mean, every community like Duluth had their own music scene.”

Despite there being a garage band in literally every neighborhood, Lundeen said there was a generation gap that wasn’t always pro-rock ‘n’ roll.

“There was this big clash,” he said. “You had the kids playing rock 'n' roll out in the garage and you’d have the neighbors calling the cops. Of course, you’d have every girl in the neighborhood out looking through the windows or peeking, because they thought it was just cool. But the older people, they thought you were some kind of decadent, [Laughs] demonic monster because you were playing rock ‘n’ roll.

“And then there were people like my mom who thought it was totally cool, so there were a few who were with it.”

Given the amount of material out there, Lundeen and Jarvinen quickly followed up “Duluth Rocked, Vol. 3: Radio Play ’70-’81” with the first two volumes, “’60s Smash Hits” and “Sensational ’60s,” which were both released by 2005.
Lundeen explained his and Jarvinen’s quirky numbering system.

“We knew there was going to be a ‘Vol. 1’ and a ‘Vol. 2,’ but ‘Vol. 3’ was totally our comfort zone because these guys were all of our friends,” said Lundeen, who was the singer in both QuickBreath and Guided Tour. (Lundeen said Jarvinen was also involved in the scene back then, as he regularly hung out with the group Sound Inc., whose song “Dreams” appears on “Vol. 3.”) “Then we went backwards and Jeff really started digging into the ‘Vol. 1’ and ‘Vol. 2’ stuff. Those were the bands that we looked up to when we were younger, before we were playing.”
Music scene connections aside, getting those decades-old songs into a digital format was occasionally a team effort.

To help complete “Vol. 3,” Lundeen and Jarvinen turned to Tom Johnson, “for his vast knowledge of regional rock 'n' roll,” and Globe News’ Tom Unterberger, whose connections in the vinyl trade facilitated the process.

“They helped us find some of the stuff we couldn’t find, but most of the stuff on [‘Vol. 3’], we just went back to our friends in the bands and said, ‘We need a pristine copy of that 45,’ because nobody had master tapes anymore,” Lundeen said. “The bands were all really cool about doing it.”

‘How’s your orchestra doing?’

Not that Lundeen needs anything else to do — in addition to his role at Duluth Rocked, he hosts “Talk of the Town” on WEBC/The Fan (560 AM) and runs an eponymous production company — but the whole Duluth Rocked phenomenon has had some welcome side effects, namely a 2002 QuickBreath reunion album called We’d Rather Eat.

“We just did it for fun,” Lundeen said. “We didn’t have any aspirations of anything happening with it. Again, kind of a posterity thing (like the Duluth Rocked albums).”

The 17-track album contains the best of QuickBreath and Guided Tour’s ’70s output (all digitally enhanced, of course), numbers chief songwriter Bruce Taylor had cooked up since the groups called it a day and four bonus tracks the group recorded live at Spirit Mountain back in ’99 as part of a radio special.

Some highlights include “Yours,” the group’s first single, which Lundeen said was a Top 10 hit locally when it was released in 1974, and “In a World Full of Fright,” Guided Tour’s timeless 1970 opus about the state of the world.

“It’s almost kind of eerie; you could take just a few things out of it, exchange them for things that are going on today … and a lot of the stuff is still fairly relevant,” Lundeen said of that Taylor composition — a song he recorded the vocals for when he was only 15. “It’s amazing.”

The album isn’t all doom and gloom, however. The album title, for one, is a nod to the group’s traditionally carefree attitude: When QuickBreath’s second single, “Bonnie” backed with “Dead Inside,” was released in 1977, "From the Never-to-be-Released Album We’d Rather Eat” was printed on the 45's label.

“They lied!” the band wrote in the album’s liner notes. “But then who knew that someday they’d have the resources to actually do the project.”

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