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When the cassette 1984 was released on Chimik Communications in 1984, the Nihilist Spasm Band's last record was the 1978 Vol. 2. Although the band was very active at the time, playing every Monday night at Forest City Gallery in London, Ontario, since the mid-'70s, it very seldom recorded. 1984 was an attempt at documenting these weekly sessions. Tracks were edited from domestic recording tapes, therefore the sound quality is poor, bootleg-like at times (like on "Are You OK Bill? July 30 1984"). 1984 was originally marketed as a 90-minute cassette. For the CD reissue, Alchemy Records dropped two tracks in order to fit the album on one CD. In 1984, some band members (particularly John Clement, John Boyle, and Bill Exley) couldn't make it every night, therefore the lineup varies from one track to another. Two major differences stand out from the usual Nihilist Spasm Band sound. First, Bill Exley's vocals are only heard on one track, buried in the mix, undecipherable: exit the nihilist rants. Second, the band rocks heavier than it ever will. "March 20 1984" showcases a stripped-down version of the NSB in an energy-packed 18-minute number. Greg Curnoe hits the drums with fierce determination, keeping a steady rhythm, while Murray Favro and Art Pratten play hypnotic guitar drones (a rarity for violinist Pratten). "Sept. 10 1984" goes in the same direction, but this time with an almost complete lineup (only Exley is missing). The closing "Oct. 16 1984" is more typical NSB, ending on quiet guitar ramblings. Still, because of the alienating sound quality, 1984 remains a for-fans-only item. -- François Couture (AMG)