Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fools Face -- "Won't Make It Hard" (1981)

We could go on forever
As long as there are no complications

That's all well and good -- except for one thing.  Aren't there always complications?  

According to Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide, Fools Face "was the most criminally-overlooked pop band to emerge in the '80s."  I agree.  

Most of you have never heard of Fools Face.  (I wonder why it's not "Fool's Face," or "Fools' Face," or "Fools' Faces"?)  A few of my high-school friends may be familiar with Fools Face -- they even may have seen them perform live -- because Fools Face is from Springfield, Missouri, which is just an hour's drive from my hometown (Joplin, Missouri).

One of my friends made me a cassette tape of the group's 1981 Tell America album.  Their consisted of two interlocking upper-case F's -- the first printed normally, the second one printed upside-down and backwards -- and he replicated that logo on the label of the cassette.  

Here's the logo:

I think my friend had seen Fools Face perform in Kansas City, where they were very popular.  (They opened for Elvis Costello when he appeared at the Starlight Theatre in 1982, so they were no slouches.)  

I had moved to Washington, DC, several years earlier, so I had never heard of the band.  But I was a big power pop fan -- Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, the Go-Gos, Cheap Trick, and Squeeze were all going strong at this time -- and I liked my Fools Face tape a lot.

That was 30 years ago, and I doubt that I've listened to that tape in the last 25 years.  But a few days ago, Fools Face popped into my mind for some reason, and I was pleased to find that some fan had uploaded the entire Tell America album to YouTube.

Some of the tracks weren't familiar.  (It's possible my friend didn't record the entire album, and its also possible that I've just forgotten those songs.)  But several of them -- including "Won't Make It Hard" -- were immediately recognizable.

One of the commenters speculates that Springfield native Brad Pitt (who was about the same age as the band's members) might have seen Fools Face perform when he was a Kickapoo High School student.  

Brad Pitt, Kickapoo HS (class of '82)
Another one pointed out that Pitt was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity at the University of Missouri, and that Fools Face played at "Bid Day Bash" parties at frat houses (one year, Sheryl Crow's band was the opening act at that party) and also at The Blue Note club in Columbia (which is still going strong).

Brad Pitt, Mizzou student
Here's the kicker.  After their first couple of albums failed to get much notice outside of Missouri, Fools Face moved to Los Angeles in 1984 in hopes of getting a major record deal.  When that didn't happen, the band folded.  After a long hiatus, the group got back together in the late 1990s -- and one source says they played at Brad Pitt's high-school reunion.  Another source says they played a gig in Springfield that Pitt and some of his buddies attended when Brad came back to visit his family one Christmas.

But let's not get all bogged down in details.  Everyone agrees that Pitt saw Fools Face perform in Springfield in 2000 or so -- perhaps after seeing them play one or more times in Columbia many years earlier.

That's quite a revelation, but a couple of other commenters topped it.

Here's what one of the commenters said:

I saw these guys in '81 or '82 in Gelena KS at Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club. I was too drunk to remember a hole lot.

Perhaps this guy was drunk when he typed that comment -- that would explain the misspellings of "Galena" and "whole."

Another commenter confirmed the first guy's claim.  (I'm guessing neither one of them were English majors.)

First heard this band at an 18 yr. old/Dance/3.2 Beer Piss dive called Sgt. Peppers in Galena KS (previously The Brass Monkey). They were much more than a New Wavish, Punkish band of the Late 70s-Early 80s and they could've made it big but I'm glad they didn't cause they were more than that. Fools Tails, good music and lots of energy!!

Some of my friends and I spent many nights drinking 3.2% beer in Galena, Kansas in the mid-1970s -- click here for an account of those nights -- but I had moved away from the area by 1981.  So I missed out on seeing Fools Face perform there.  

One of the 3.2% beer joints in Galena 
(Did you know that 3.2% beer is defined legally as "nonintoxicating" in some states?  You can put lipstick on a pig, but that don't make it a prom date.  And you can put hot fudge and whipped cream on a t*rd, but that don't make it an ice cream sundae.  Define 3.2% as "nonintoxicating" if you wish, but that don't mean you won't get drunk if you pour two or three quarts of it down your throat.) 

Finally, if you're curious about the reference to "Fools Tails" in the second comment quoted above, my research indicates that the band members wore tiny little pony tails that were called "fools' tails" by their fans.     

Here's "Won't Make It Hard":

The Tell America album was never issued on CD and isn't available online, but a fan has uploaded each track from the album to YouTube -- so you can listen to some or all of the songs on it that way. 

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