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Vietnam Veterans -
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Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam Veterans

Here's the story of the band you won't see on the cover of the Rolling Stone. The group was founded in 1982 (in Chalon, France) with its first lineup including Mark Enbatta (vocals, guitar), Lucas Trouble (keyboard), Greg Jones (guitar), Angelo Jupp (bass), Steve Palermo (drums) and D.D Richardson (harmonica). The name that was they chose for the band referred to men who had given a lot and got nothing in return; though the band had not done any military service themselves. Read more on
Here's the story of the band you won't see on the cover of the Rolling Stone. The group was founded in 1982 (in Chalon, France) with its first lineup including Mark Enbatta (vocals, guitar), Lucas Trouble (keyboard), Greg Jones (guitar), Angelo Jupp (bass), Steve Palermo (drums) and D.D Richardson (harmonica). The name that was they chose for the band referred to men who had given a lot and got nothing in return; though the band had not done any military service themselves. Enbatta grew up in France's Basque region and started playing guitar in the late '60's, mostly doing R&B (Otis Redding, James Brown) and the usual British invasion stuff. In one of his bands, he met Jones, who played in a band with his own brother.

In the late '70's, Enbatta started writing his own material (some of which appeared on the first Veterans LP) and played mostly on the street and at political demonstrations but also with some other groups. Over the years, he picked up a variety of influences from different types of music including blues, country, rockabilly, surf, rock and roll and early NYC punk (Ramones, Patti Smith, Television). He was also influenced by a lot of less commonly-heard traditional music from Russia and Spain. "Music must have a soul behind it to be good," he explained. Lucas Trouble was also playing in several bands throughout the '70's, the last of which was Tango Lüger.

All of his bands played dark stuff, in the style of Joy Division. In 1982, Mark organized a show for Tango Lüger and met Lucas. Jupp played with a band called the Snipers, who by then had some records out and was crossing paths with other future Vet members at clubs. With the principles in place, the Vets were ready to begin their career. The first-ever Vet recording was a cassette with a few songs, but it didn't make much of any impact.

Their first real album, On The Right Track Now (1983), was recorded in a small experimental studio called "A l'Ouest de la Grosne" where the progressive rock band Gong was also recording. Three different drummers each played on the album and were also at the live shows that followed it but when they found Martin Joyce, he became their permanent skins man. Around this time, Richardson was sacked because he didn't fit in. The record itself was recorded and mixed in only three days.That gave the album a pretty low sound quality (like hearing a radio show made by the neighbor's ten year old twins on a double-cassette recorder from 1972) but that doesn't change the fact that this is one of the best albums ever recorded from the post-psychedelic garage scene of the 80's, especially in Europe. It includes many great songs but probably the best known pearls are "Don't Try To Walk On Me" and "Dreams Of Today." The songwriting and recording process always depends on the chemistry between band members and the Vets were no different.

Usually, Mark wrote a song on his acoustic guitar, then brought it to the band, and by each one adding his instrumental interpretation, it became a band song. This is also the way that various they recorded music in their post-Vets bands. Track was a very unique album for the time; remember that the early '80's was dominated by Micheal Jackson, Van Halen, bad pop disguised as punk, corporate pop and the beginning of glam metal. The Vets had a very '60's sound and feeling and though they didn't have instrumental virtuosity, they were one of the main triggers of a new wave of psychedelic music in Europe even though they never considered themselves to be a part of any scene. Their second album, Crawfish For The Notary (1984), was recorded in the same studio as On The Right Track now, but it was done in three weeks so it had a much better sound quality to it. It also contains some of the band's best songs: "Children Eyes," "What Are You Hiding," "I Give You My Life" and more. In 1985, the band released Green Peas, a record featuring the band's first two live gigs in Germany.

This album features the best songs from the first two albums and had other songs that were completely improvised on the stage during the show; more proof of the band's unique chemistry. It's probably the best album to start with for someone who wants to learn about the Vets. It's also their best selling album so it should be the easiest one to find (of course, because their albums are relatively rare, you should start with any album you can find). Peas (and the next two albums) was released by a Dutchman named Hans Kesteloo. He also purchased the rights for their first two albums, after their first label (Lolita) stole some of their royalties in order to compensate for the label losing money on another band which Mark brought to them (the Inmates). During this time, the band got quite a reputation on the European scene and because of their growing fame, they almost never played in small places; at a Frankfurt show, they had an audience of about 2000 people. In 1986, the band released Ancient Times, a well-produced album which contained one of the band's more stirring masterpieces, "Curanderos," among other brilliant songs such as "Tower Of Babel","Wrinkle Drawer" and "Crooked Dealers" (the first three also appeared on the Green Peas). Catfish Eyes And Tales was released in 1987 and provide to be the last Vets album.

It's a special album which contains a piece that, in the absence of better name, is best described as "progressive rock", though it's not what you think of as prog rock. That work, "Medley," was built out of three connected songs: "Distant Drums," "Sea Horse" and a cover of the late David McWilliams's song "The Days Of Pearly Spencer." After the album was released though, things were not going so well for the group. They decided to disband, but the real reason was because it was something the members agreed to early on; initially, they had decided to only record a few albums. Since they are still good friends today, it probably was a good decision.

The band's last gig was in Bochum, Germany, people came from everywhere (England, Holland, France), knowing it was their last show. Before the band broke up, another album was released, The Days Of Pearly Spencer (1988), which is a collection of unreleased songs and updated versions of songs from the group's first two LP's. It also contains a live version of "The Trip", where they were joined by random fans who had stormed the stage. The breakup was not the end of the Vets' musical career. Mark and Lucas formed a band with Olmer Rose and Charly Markarian called the Late Veterans but it disbanded quickly because of ego problems. After that came Thyrd Twin with Mark, Martin and Fred from the band Silly Things.

Unfortunately, Martin had huge financial problems and the group disbanded before their first tour, though they did manage to record an album. Mark also released a solo album which is something of a Vets reunion, since it included Lucas and Martin, but they relied less on keyboards this time around. Trouble played on more than a hundred records since then, including albums by his group Temple Gates (from about 1987), The Vietnam Chain (a 1988 collaboration between Vet members and the band the Daisy Chain) and various solo albums. Martin and his girlfriend are still playing at festivals and in bars while Angelo and Greg aren't playing shows anymore. Thirteen years after the Vets break-up, Mark and Lucas are working on a new project called the Gitanes. They have already released one album, Cloudy Draw. Although they were a great musical attraction in the mid-'80's, today, the Vets are very much lost in time.

Hopefully the information here will perhaps whet some musical appetites to listen to the strong music that this band wrote and played. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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