The Fossil Records
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, an important alternative music scene emerged from the small college town of Athens, Georgia, including both The B-52’s and R.E.M. Much less commercially successful, but highly influential, was the post-punk of their contemporaries Pylon, a four-piece who released two classic albums before disbanding.
Pylon’s second album, Chomp, has an excellent cover that features a photograph of the head of a model of the theropod dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex. The photograph is credited to Lowell T. Seaich, who was a printer based in Salt Lake City who produced souvenir postcards of Utah sites. The T. rex model is the one in the Dinosaur Garden at the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal, one of a number of models produced in the early 1960s by sculptor Elbert Porter, who taught art at the University of Utah from the 1940s to 1960s.
After a long hiatus, I’m relaunching this blog. If this is your first time here, this blog explores the influence of palaeontology and the fossil record on popular (or not so popular) music. Feel free to explore the archives, where we’ve previously covered pterosaurs and prog rock, Australian new wave, dinosaur sex, and Marc Bolan, among others.
We’ll start back with the oldest music that we’ve covered on the blog to date, pretty much Palaeozoic in the timeline of pop culture. The Piltdown Men were an instrumental rock band, somewhat in the vein of The Shadows, who emerged from Hollywood in the beginning of the 1960s. Led by Ed Cobb (who would later write the Northern Soul classic Tainted Love), the band featured two lead saxophonists. They were, of course, named after the infamous Piltdown Man palaeoanthropological hoax.
The Piltdown Men released seven 7” records between 1960 and 1962, with three of them reaching the UK top 20, including the 1961 EP Piltdown Rides Again. Piltdown Rides Again features four tracks including Brontosaurus Stomp and is pretty much a novelty record, but it’s enormous fun. Whereas most of their records seem to have been sold in generic plain sleeves, this one has artwork featuring three cave men and a cave woman playing music at night (one of them is wearing sunglasses despite the darkness, like a proto-Lou Reed). Brontosaurus Stomp had previously been released as a single in 1960, when it reached the US top 75, helped in part by the launch at the same time of a new cartoon called The Flintstones, although this was pure serendipity, rather than a planned tie-in.
Not much more to add. I've got lots planned for future posts: let's hope it won't be over a year until I get around to writing them...