Restoring the Edsel

September 26, 2011

I remember back when ’90s D.C. post-punk band Edsel came into the record store I was working at and wanted us to stock the group’s latest 7-inch. This was in Ann Arbor, Mich., and my boss said we could only do a consignment — meaning Edsel would be mailed a check once the singles sold. My guess? Edsel never got a ducat.

Then again, Edsel was never paid what it was worth during its 1988-1997 lifespan, which is why the group recently teamed with New Jersey label Comedy Minus One to digitally reissue remastered versions of “The Everlasting Belt Co.” (1993) and “Detroit Folly” (1994). The group didn’t receive royalties from any of the three labels that originally released its four LPs, so after sending letters to those now-defunct entities to inquire about the records’ ownership and receiving no response, Edsel decided the music belonged to the band again.

The group’s edgy Wire influence was eventually smoothed out by its interest in shoegaze atmospherics, but Edsel’s D.C. punk roots are always apparent in the way it favored dynamics over pure melody — and the DIY spirit over record-label shenanigans.

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