Star-Studded-Super-Step 
Artist: Poor Old Lu 
Label:  Alarma Records, 1998 
Time: 52:31, 14 tracks 

Okay all you Poor Old Lu fans that have searched the world over for a copy of Star-Studded-Super-Step and were willing to pay outrageous prices for it just to make your collection complete . . . here is your chance to get one hot off the press.  Or if you were just curious how Poor Old Lu sounded in the beginning, but didn't hold a hope of getting your hands on this rare gem, now you can find out too.  ...Super-Step has been re-released by Alarma Records just for your edification.  There's only one problem . . . it's not all there!  The original ...Super-Step was released on tape in 1992, and re-released on CD in 1995 with some extra tracks.  That 1995 CD is a coveted trophy, and will continue to be so.  It contained 10 tracks and 14 bonus tracks.  The new re-re-release has all ten of the original tracks, but only four of the ten bonus tracks from the 1995 re-release.  Unlike the indie '95 release, though, we get lyrics included in the liner notes this time. And if all this release,  re-release, and re-re-release is confusing, don't feel bad, you're not alone. 
 
For the uninitiated, Poor Old Lu is Aaron Sprinkle on guitar, keys, and background vocals; Nick Barber on bass and background vocals; Jesse Sprinkle on drums and percussion; and Scott Hunter on vocals.  Poor Old Lu has its own sound and doesn't need to borrow from anyone else.  The music is definitely modern alternative and quite good for that.  It is amazing how fresh some music still is even after six years, and ...Super-Step is one of those rare recordings that holds up well over time.  It is alive and vibrant, calling out for you to listen.  Granted,  the recording quality is not up to industry standards--the vocals are muddy and at times hard to hear, and the whole thing sounds like it was done in a gymnasium--but what do you expect from something that was recorded over a five-day period six years ago, using a rented 8-track and other borrowed equipment?  The energy and feeling behind the music more than makes up for the rushed feeling to the project, and when you realize this is where it all started, you can be amazed at the quality that is there.  You would think that if they were going to re-release this again they would have tried to clean it up, but that didn't happen.  Most of the songs have been re-recorded on Mindsize or Sin, but ...Super-Step is still that rare classic. 

By Mark Aylor 

 

 

It's a little weird to be reviewing this now, since I'm one of the lucky few to have owned it for a couple years already.  Long a highly searched-for underground release, it's now being re-released for fans after the band's demise.  Joy! 

The 24 tracks on the disc are split into two parts--the first 10 being their original demo and the latter 14 being some more demo tracks and "have-fun-in-the-studio" type stuff.  Of the first 10 demo songs, six are previously unreleased, three are on Mindsize, and one is on Sin ("Cannon Fire Orange").  The latter 14 tracks consist of three more unreleased songs (one of them done with two different mixes), four more Mindsize demos, and six tracks of humor and half-songs.  The unreleased songs might as well have been on Mindsize, though, since they feature the same groovy, psychedelic Seattle fuzz 'n wah guitar tones, distinctive vocals, cool percussion/drumming, and retro basslines.  The demo-quality production, while definitely above average, matches well with the band's looseness here to give them more of a late 60s/early 70s sound than any of their other albums. 

All in all, this is well worth purchasing, especially for those who enjoyed Poor Old Lu's first couple albums.  This type of material (demo reissues/bootleg/live stuff) often disappoints me, but the amount of unreleased material here and differing details in the familiar songs make this an exception to the rule (otherwise I would have sold it when I could have gotten big bucks for it).  Good stuff. 

By Josh Spencer 
 
This was a review on the the original release. The re-release CD contains the original cassette demo plus the 4 tracks. The original CD has about 10 more bonus tracks.