The Units

About 30 years ago, back in the days when record stores still existed, I was browsing the bins and was intrigued enough by this cover art to buy, ears-unheard, the first LP from an unknown-to-me band called The Units:

I ended up listening to that record a lot. It’s probably safe to say that I went whole weeks listening to nothing else. The Units never made it big, I never saw them perform live, and a few years later they disbanded. But that record remained (and remains) one of my favorite recordings. In the second half of the 80s I unloaded my vinyl collection, and The Units passed out of my life. I expected I’d be able to replace Digital Stimulation on CD, but it was never released.

Fast forward to today, last night, in fact, when it suddenly occurred to me that even though previous searches had come up empty, maybe things had changed. And they had! Huzzah!

Five minutes later I was downloading an MP3 from Amazon of History of the Units: The Early Years 1977-1983. It’s amazingly wonderful, of course, but it bugs me a little that a few of my favorites are different versions than what I remember. I prefer the Digital Stimulation versions.

Not to worry, though. Thanks to a global information network and a particular intellectual-property-disdaining YouTube user named VinilOldSchool, the entire original Digital Stimulation album, complete with real analog surface noise, is available for listening:

Here’s the whole thing. Listen while you can!

Lest you think that YouTube’s Units collection is entirely derivative, I’ll leave you with this: briangainey’s awesome (and hilarious) self-made video for “High Pressure Days”:

3 Responses to “The Units”

  1. enkidu Says:

    that video was hypnotic

    you can save videos from youtube and convert them to play elsewhere (ie non-.flv) or extract their (really awful quality) audio stream

    on a mac, just go to your youtube or other flash video, hit play
    now open the Activity monitor (com/opt/a)
    look for the window name of your video (in case you have many windows open)
    open that, click on the triangle to see everything downloaded for that page
    you should see a largish file that is still downloading/streaming
    option click that file and it will download
    can be one of a few formats – mp4 is the easiest, as it is ready to use right away
    if flv, use something like handbrake to chop it to shape/size
    if some weird name/format, try renaming that to a .flv and go from there

    now if some Super Genius could invent a holographic reconstitutor for 64kb audio that removes the mush, and makes it into nice red book spec audio (or buy the pro version and get SACD audio!) Curse you lossy compression! Bless you lossy compression for bringing us the spectacle of this dude’s dancin.

  2. jbc Says:

    Yeah, I fully intend to rip the audio from those youtube clips and recreate the original album for my drivetime enjoyment. I’m sorry to Scott Ryser and the rest of the former Units; I’d rather pay them for officially sanctioned MP3s or a CD or whatever of Digital Stimulation, but it doesn’t appear to be possible at the moment.

  3. Craig Says:

    I visited many small independent record stores throughout the 80’s and 90’s and often took a chance on an unheard record. I usually based my choice on whether I recognised an artist who I liked, who was appearing on the album, or a favorite producer, or based upon a review written in the Rolling Stone or in Billboard. Often it was not so good, but I did manage about a 50% success rate. I still have close to a thousand vinyl records.

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