The Severed Heads Liberation Front (SHLF) Not-Too-Frequently Asked Questions List
(Last update--2002 7 26)
Q: What is the Severed Heads Liberation Front?
A: It is an informal name for a now-accomplished mission of mine: The re-release of the Severed Heads 12" EP Stretcher. This record was originally released in 1985 by Ink Records in the UK (a division of Red Flame), #INK 1214. Both companies are now defunct. Only two to three thousand copies of it were made, so now it's quite rare and commands typically way-too-high collectorscum prices. My own copy cost me $18 Canadian, which I consider a bloody bargain, considering what I've heard asked for it before. My mission was to see the songs from this EP get re-released, preferably on CD, and especially the main song from it, "Halo," which I think is the best song that they have ever released. The full-length version of the song emphasizes the electropop side of Severed Heads for the first three minutes, while the second half gives you their experimental/tapeloop side in full effect, with the same beat running throughout the whole song. The only version of the song that was widely available for the longest time was on the Nettwerk compilation CD Bulkhead, and this version pissed me off greatly because they crudely chopped the second half off by shutting off the tape and dropped a snare-sound-triggered voice sound out of the mix, thus ruining what I felt is the magic of the original version.
Q: How many members does the SHLF have?
A: I haven't been keeping perfect track, but since I included the name in the .sig file of my National Capital Freenet account, I've had a few people ask me what it is and how to join it, since they also enjoy Severed Heads' music. A little more on the membership in the next answer.
Q: How do I join the SHLF if I want to?
A: The SHLF works on the same principle as John Lennon and Yoko Ono's fictitious/conceptual country Nutopia (which they started during John's difficulties with trying to get American citizenship due to persecution by then-U.S. President Richard Nixon), which is to say that the only qualification for membership is awareness of the cause. It is not a formal organization, so there is no membership roster, newsletter or wallet card, no money to be paid, and no meetings to attend. Becoming a member is as easy as this:
Are you a Severed Heads fan?
Do you love the full-length version of their song "Halo"?
Do/Did you love it enough to fight for its re-release?
If you answered "YES!" to all three of the questions above, then congratulations--you are now a member of the Severed Heads Liberation Front. It is because of this policy that I can't keep an accurate count of how many members we actually have, but hey, the more, the merrier.
Q: How do Severed Heads themselves feel about the SHLF?
A: Tom Ellard pretty much thinks that I'm a pain in the ass, albeit a well-meaning vocally supportive one he has grown to tolerate, especially due to my membership on the Severed Heads internet mailing list. The SHLF got off to a rocky start about 10 years ago, when I used to wing off heated letters to him from my hometown (via snail-mail--this was long before I got online) and get exasperated, sarcastic missives in return, especially due to the difficulties he was having at the time with Dave Kitson of Red Flame/Ink (I can't repeat the comments Tom made about him when I spoke with him after the Sevs' live show in Ottawa in April 1990 in polite company). I think he has pretty much accepted the fact that I'm here, I'm driven, and I wasn't going to stop until the tapeloops at the end of the full-length "Halo" unwound from my CD player and, as such, he has helped me quite a bit with this webpage, especially with the lyrics, and acknowledged that my keeping on him was a large part of the reason why he released Stretcher on CD-R.
Q: So what progress has the SHLF made towards their goal?
A: Full accomplishment. Mind you, apart from letting Tom know that we still loved the song and wanted to see it out again, I admit we had next to nothing to do with these developments:
1. Tom has stated on the Severed Heads' mailing list (yes, the man himself moderates and contributes to the list), after hearing one too many loud grunts of dissatisfaction about the truncated version of "Halo" on Bulkhead, that he now considers this version "a mistake." What happened was that a few of his close friends told him that they thought "Halo" was too long in its original form and they had difficulty with the second part (what a bunch of wimps, eh?), so he made the second mix. This is an important development, since admitting it is half the battle fought already.
2. Tom now has the master tapes of many of his recordings back from Volition, including "Halo." According to Tom, Ink Records retains the publishing for these forever, but he's damned the torpedoes and has been re-releasing them himself on remastered CD-R. I hope Dave Kitson of Ink sticks his head up so Tom can sue it off and get total ownership at last. but, so far, he's be very quiet.
3. At one time SevCom (Severed Communications) released a beta version of a CD-ROM called Severything, which was a home-burned affair made up of over 150 Severed Heads songs in MPEG3 format, including all four songs from the Stretcher EP ("Halo," "Big Blue (is Back)," "Heat Seeking Susan" and "New Explosions") and several MPEG3 players to enjoy them with. It was available only for beta testing, and the test was closed some time ago, so now it is no longer available. However, after a long stretch of making the MP3s (96kHz) available for free from SevCom, he has released an audio CD-R with these songs and others from the Australian LP, which is only available from the SevCom Shop (sounds better than the MP3s). He is presently well and truly pissed off with the music industry (with good reason) and keeping alive by working day jobs like you and me. But this could change in the future. So far, Dave Kitson has said nothing about the SevCom re-release of Stretcher, most likely because Tom (and his lawyer) would have a few things to say to him in return.
Q: Okay, these songs have finally come out on your beloved digital drink coaster format. Aren't you happy now? Your mission should be finished then, right? So what will happen to the SHLF?
A: Right now it's in stasis, since, while it's good that Tom has made it available, sending money to Australia from outside the country is a fucking bureaucratic nightmare, so I'm still holding out hope that someone somewhere will manufacture it and distribute it properly. Tom is moving at his own chosen pace at this, so about all I can do is wait and see if anything new develops, and be happy with the CD-R version I have now. While the Front may be stalled, I'll be ready to kickstart it again if need be.
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