Thinking Fellers Union Local 282: Admonishing the Bishops LP
Bulbous Monocle, a new label focused on the legacy of the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and the scene from which it revealed in between the years 1986-1996, is honored to launch the label with arguably the most lauded and concise testament from the band. 1993’s mini-masterpiece Admonishing the Bishops. Originally released on the Matador Records label, this title and most of the “Fellers” discography has been out of print for over 25 years. Now, newly remastered by Mark Gergis (Sublime Frequencies et.al) this perfect EP is sounding better than ever!
“Formed in San Francisco in 1986, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 had the bad luck to display a range of cultural and musical reference points shared by relatively few members of that era’s archconservative “underground culture.” On any given day, you might hear that their records were too manicured or too chaotic, too cerebral or too absurd, too personal or too impersonal, too experimental or too pop. Above all, they were derided as “self-indulgent” by critics who expected artists to tiptoe deferentially around their audience’s blind spots.
"To be fair, their early recordings had about as much relation to their in-the-flesh grandeur as a dripping faucet does to Iguazu Falls. Against steep technical odds, Greg Freeman of Lowdown Studio made their LPs work beautifully as aural monuments. But listeners who hadn’t seen the Fellers’ live could be forgiven for finding these albums a bit forbidding.
"Which brings us to Admonishing the Bishops — a wholly unexpected breakthrough release comprising four down-home, crowd-pleasin’ tracks engineered by Volcano Suns / Shellac bassist Bob Weston during the Fellers’ epochal tour with Sun City Girls in fall 1992.
“The studio was in Steve Albini's basement, and we stayed there at his house for a couple days while we recorded and mixed,” vocalist/guitarist/bassist/banjoist/trombonist/etceterist Mark Davies explains. The relaxed, low-stakes atmosphere — along with the band’s tour-hardened performances and what Mark calls “the joy of getting our minds blown every night” by Sun City Girls — yielded tracks that were polished and approachable without sacrificing any of the band’s complexity or ferocity.
"Back in San Francisco, they decided to release these tracks as a 10-inch EP rather than saving them for a full album. Mark notes that bassist Anne Eickelberg spearheaded the project: “She wanted to put out something concise after the somewhat bloated double-LP.”
"Upon its release in 1993, Admonishing the Bishops’ concision, clarity and accessibility went over like a duralumin-and-fabric zeppelin. With its 20/20 focus on the band’s songcraft, it’s an ideal introduction for curious neophytes and a natural choice for the first installment of Bulbous Monocle’s highly anticipated TFUL282 reissue series. Long-time listeners, meanwhile, will appreciate this reissue’s meticulous remastering by Mark Gergis of Sublime Frequencies. Or else.” – Brandan Kearney, Portland OR 2022.