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Blast From the Past: The Eat, Hialeah

Blast From the Past is an occasional Crossfade column re-examining classic South Florida releases of yesteryear. Click here for past editions.

This here little seven-inch record in its full Pepto Bismol-pink glory is very dear to my heart. When I moved to Miami in the early '90s, I was fortunate enough to receive a cassette tape (via Maximum Rock N' Roll's classified ads) with some obscure regional punk rock dubbed on it. Most of that B-side was the Eat's first EPs and parts of the band's Scattered Wahoo Action tape. I was immediately hooked. And then I found out how completely impossible it was to find those records. Bummer. 

But then one day in the back end of 1995 (or was it early '96) I walk into the Yesterday & Today Records store, which at this point in time had its counter helmed by Chris Lelucas, who briefly ran Starcrunch Records. What did I find? An Eat seven-inch titled Hialeah. The cover boasted a Xeroxed photograph of a bunch of middle-aged dudes enjoying an afternoon at the track.

Surely this shit couldn't be what I thought it was. But Chris who was a super nice guy who tried to explain to me that it was in fact a new Eat record. Bullshit! So he played it for me. A little poppier than I thought it would be, but the O'Briens were unmistakable. 

What a rush, what glee! I ran home and blasted this fucker for hours!!! The opening track is a bitter love song for the Hialeah race track (which finally seems to have gotten its legs back, somewhat), complete with the humorous Catholic-guilt streak that makes a good Eat song. This is followed by "Shoes Shoes Shoes" which is quirky and ambient and at the same time satisfies the criteria for shoegazer pop; it's still a good song that has given me joy over the years. 

Side-A closes with "M80 Ant Death" which is more in line with the version of hardcore you'd find in the band's earlier effots, and doubles as a piece of social commentary on animal treatment. In case you ever thought these guys were only in it for the party, they can be activists too!

I'll be extremely honest in saying that I did not entirely appreciate the crafted nuances of Side B at first, but they have grown steadily on me over the years. I blame youthful musical ignorance for that, because the one-two punch of "Psychotic McHale's Navy" and "Dream of Yogi" sums these guys up very well and does so in little time. There's four-on-the-floor punk rock and roll, there's garage, there's surf, there's psychedelia, swamp sounds, and and blues. There's also an expressed passion for bygone Golden Era-television and sports (when sports were played for love, not paychecks). 

A lot of misconceptions have surrounded this release, so let's try and clarify them a little bit. These tracks were not recorded during the Scattered Wahoo sessions. They were recorded between 1988 and 1992 at Sync Studios in Miami, and were released by Jeterboy Records in 1995 with an original run of approximately 800 copies, 

"M80 Ant Death," aside from being the most hardcore track on this release (and an excellent showcase of dearly departed Chris Cottie's drumming and Ken Lindahl's bass), is also one that the band has adapted well in later years for its infrequent live engagements. And like all good Eat records, this came with baseball cards, flyers, and miscellaneous photocopies someone certainly made at work.