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Reggie and the Full Effect

"Reggie and the Full Effect Promotional Copy was never intended to be released. We have only an unidentified person to thank for the recovery of the master tapes." So reads the succinct liner notes on the reverse of Promotional Copy's cover. Every great, posthumously bemoaned band needs a rock 'n' roll mythology behind it if the band is ever to achieve longevity (think the Beatles -- you know, the maharajah incident, Yoko, Lennon's assassination; or the tragic plane crash death of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zandt -- would "Freebird" have the same emotional impact if we weren't all simultaneously mourning Ronnie as we sing along with lighters held aloft? I think not.).

Conversely, every great rock 'n' roll mythology worth its weight in conjecture needs a great belated band to validate it. Carriage before the horse, sure, but not at all an unamusing concept. Extrapolating that theory: enter Reggie and the Full Effect.

The Mythology

Reggie and the Full Effect formed in 1984, purportedly in Kansas City, Missouri. Though none of the band's recordings ever saw the light of day during that decade, the band gained a small but fanatical cult following amongst those who witnessed its glorious, eclectic, sometimes sensitive, sometimes misogynistic wonder. Legend has it that Reggie himself perished in 1993 in a tragic plane crash over Yellowstone Park. Following in the morbid tradition of Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, and Kyu Sakamoto, Reggie and his career were brought to a fatefully early demise.

As the liners explain, the master tapes of Reggie and the Full Effect's recordings were lost for many years, and only recently recovered. The first tapes recovered were released last year as Greatest Hits '84-'87 -- a stellar document in its own right. But in the two-year interim between the recording of those tracks and the group's final 1989 recording session (with a production credit going to W. Axl "Ed" Rose) now known simply as Promotional Copy, Reggie and the boys' styles change dramatically, giving both fans and the uninitiated a peek into the multifarious mind of one of the '80s' most curious and heretofore unknown talents.

The Music

As opposed to the greatest-hits record, which consisted primarily of pop songs about runaways, girls and breakups, interspersed with samples titled [clue #1] "Fiona Apple Kiss My Black Ass," "Drunk Guy at the Get Up Kids Show," and "Pick Up the Phone Master P," Promotional Copy ditches the sample-heavy format, instead saturating the recording with songs that span damn near every possible stylistic.

The record opens with a sound clip of Reggie bullshitting with his homeys ("If you're gonna wear the uniform, you gotta sell the cookies, right?), when a car squeals up and a gruff thug type declares he has a message for Reggie from "A.C. Lerok" -- then, Tupac style, shots are fired and pandemonium ensues, fading into a scratch-heavy hip-hop composition that's as far outside Reggie's previous repertoire as imaginable. Though DJ Swamp it ain't, it's still an impressive effort for a bunch of K.C. white boys.

From that point, the barrage begins. "From Me 2 U" is classic Reggie and the Full Effect -- a tragic love song with simple lyrics that give it the tongue-in-cheek panache that the band established on its first record. Several other tracks fit that mold as well -- "Congratulations Matt and Christine," "Relive the Magic... Bring the Magic Home," "Megan 2K," and "Fought and Won One" (have we mentioned how uncanny the similarities are between these songs and the Get Up Kids' songs?).

But Promotional Copy's brightest moments are when the band strays furthest from its standard repertoire. "Something I'm Not" crashes into the mélange of sensitive boy emoting with a barrage of death metal screaming, while the music slowly devolves from power chord assaults to an ingenious techno/breakbeat breakdown. "Good Times, Good Tunes, Good Buds" brings distorted stoner-rock somewhere between Kyuss and KARP into the mix, but with the second vocalist (sounding eerily like Get Up Kids' singer Matt Pryor) bringing a softer, quilted texture to the rock.

Best of all are the electronicized tracks on the record. "Boot to the Moon" may be the most comical techno composition ever concocted (and that's saying a lot considering all the absolutely silly shit making the raver rounds these days). It's techno square dancing, announcer and all -- "Step to the right, step to the left, step to the forward, step in back.... That's real good. Now we're gonna start over again, ready? -- right, left, forward, back." It only gets better than that on "Gloves," a completely Euro-styled (accents and all) New Wave track about love and the pleasure of losing it.

The Reality

Though we've dropped a few hints already, we should note that Promotional Copy was released on Heroes & Villains records, a label owned by none other than the Get Up Kids. Looking at the situation forensically, one can only conclude that we have been bamboozled, hoodwinked, taken for suckers by this smart-assed Reggie and the Full Effect. Reggie -- if that's your real name -- we know who you are, basically. The evidence would suggest that Reggie and the Full Effect are in fact two of the Get Up Kids (Matt Pryor and James DeWee) and a member of Kansas City's Coalesce. But for the sake of mythology, something that fuels civilizations and their customs the world over, we believe in Reggie and the Full Effect, and no matter who the authors may be, Promotional Copy will forever remain a precious document from one of rock's most mysterious icons.

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Brendan Joel Kelley