45's and 7's
Bonerz
Brazilian
Comedy
Country / Blues
DIY / Outsider
Electronic
European
Folk
Folkways
Gospel
Hip Hop
Indian / Asian
Jazz
Library
New Age
Pop / Rock
Psych / Prog
Risque
Soul / Funk
Soundtracks
Spoken Word
Tapes
Various Artists
World Jazz
Posted in Punk - Post Punk

Mechanical Servants – Min X Match

This was given to me in a blind trade and quickly became my favorite of the batch sent. Incredibly fun and beautiful, Mechanical Servants bring a refreshing simplicity to the post-punk/new-wave genre. Consisting simply of two females, Pamela Kifer (lead vocalist) and Victoria Harper, a guitar, a bass, a synthesizer and a typerwriter.

The songwriting is brilliant on this 4 track EP, as they’ve stripped down their sound to the bare essentials without it feeling too minimal, which in turn forces emphasis on the vocal part, perfectly preformed by the duo. The best example of this being “Responsateen”, a song about (from what I can tell) the burden of responsibility. While that seems like a simple topic, its explored in depth through this simplicity, an analogy that can be applied to the sound of the EP as well.

I was quite surprised when searching for information on the group that all I could find was an uncompleted auction from the person who sent me the record (at $7.00 even). How could such a gem escape the grasp of the many great collectors browsing the plethora of private issue synth albums that appear on ebay daily? Are there still that many unknown records? Is this just a dollar-bin common? Either way, as the lyrics to “Problem, What Problem?” say:

this is no anthem
my hand on the table
my hand on a cigarette
social conventions
small comfort to me

The Min X Match EP was released on Mystery Toast (New York) in 1980.

Listen


52 Comments

  • unbelievable!!! these are fucking grade-A pop gems! many thanks for the mp3s, these are going on the constant rotation…

  • “Are there still that many unknown records?”

    yes. yes indeed…

  • You’re welcome for the mp3s. There is a copy of this on gemm right now for $22, which in my opinion is a very fair price. Although, you could wait for it to pop up on ebay and go unsold again ;)

    Also, nice blog. Perhaps you might consider posting some of your records on this site as well.

    – Aaron Levin

  • you guys are definitely right up my alley. i’ve got alot of thrift store shit in a couple of boxes waiting to be gone through. if you can set me up i can post a bunch of this stuff, which could be interesting…

  • this is awesome. thanks canonical

  • cary grant: You can sign up by visiting our message board (bbs) – http://www.waxidermy.com/bbs/

    Edith: You’re welcome. But you should probably thank d*****s as he sent me the record :)

  • What a coincidence. I bought this EP, sight unheard, for $9.00 about two weeks ago, and was very pleasantly surprised. Bravo, Waxidermy! If you like Mechanical Servants, check out anything you can find by Algebra Suicide, an Ohio 1980s duo with a similar sound, except their female vocals were spoken not sung.

  • Thanks for a sip of the juice, this is amazing stuff.

    I have created a tribute ytmnd to honor its greatness:

    http://Responsateen.ytmnd.com/

  • hello
    this is not actually a comment but a way to get in touch with you.Please find bellow 3 links for the complete YO! discography.The group is from USA early-mid 80s,they play fantastic mixture of garage,punk and in a wide meaning alernative rock.I think this is the right place their records should be shared.So here are the links:
    http://rapidshare.de/files/22104220/yo.part1.rar.html
    http://rapidshare.de/files/22104386/yo.part2.rar.html
    http://rapidshare.de/files/22093420/yo.part3.rar.html
    the records are 3:
    1.GOOD TIDINGS (1984)
    2.CHARM WORLD (1985)
    3.ONCE IN A BLUE MOON (1987)
    I ;ll be glad to see them published .Contact me at : jbull23@otenet.gr
    thanks for all the good stuff
    mutantsounds aka/ Jim from Greece

  • Pamela from mechanical servants

    I’m so glad everyone likes the ep so much. I have mixed feelings about filesharing, I’ll admit, since I don’t think we ever saw $7 out of the thing and I’m a believer in intellectual property. But it’s all ancient history now, i suppose. I did a lot of interesting music after this, including a bunch of stuff with guys from Magazine and the Specials. Please keep playing it and enjoying it. But please do share files with respect. A lot of people depend on selling their music to make a living. And illegal copies are a big part of the reason that there was no money to make another MekServ record. A little something to think about. But play it with my blessing and play it loud. Easy to play on guitar too. I never mastered more than 8 chords!

    Pamela

  • Hi Pamela!

    Thanks for writing. I understand your comments about file-sharing. When posting these links I checked to see if there was a reissue or compilation featuring any of your songs. When nothing came up I figured posting the songs would be the only way to get enough buzz started so that people would start tracking down copies and perhaps, eventually a reissue or comp. Should someone compile or reissue this EP, then I can change these songs into “clips” or take them down if you would like.

    That being said, is anything of the sort in the works?

    I’ll definitely try to check out some of your other works.

    Again, thanks for your comments and music. Without sounding like too much of a star-struck fan, it really is a beautiful EP, especially the singing. Thanks.

    – Aaron Levin

  • GODDAMN THIS EP IS AWESOME.

    pamela please to link to further works?

    a re-release is so needed for this.

  • One more thing Pamela.

    Do you have a complete discography that you could email or post here?

    Then I can add this to the post so people reading can search out your other stuff. Same goes for Victoria (if you’re still in contact with her or know her discography).

    Thanks,

    – Aaron Levin

    vilevin [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Pamela from mechanical servants

    Ahhhhh, Victoria! If only i knew where she was. We kept in good touch until about ten years ago. You know I listened to these songs last night for the first time in a few years and Godammit, they were good fucking fun! What a pir of angry little girls. And we love that! Now do you think it indicates a lack of personal progress that you’re still perplexed about the same issues at 47 that you were at 21? Let’s think of it as grappling with insoluble human conditions. The other thing that was really interesting to me was that the seeds of later songs (I wrote and played pro for another 15 years) were all there. Structure, melody tricks, crammed in lyrics. But I certainly got to be a much better singer and a much better writer. Well, one would hope. Through a series of business disasters, I never released anything else, although I played continuously and recorded a LOT more with a bunch of talented folks here and in the UK. Was even disastrously signed to Geffen for awhile in the late 80’s. Talk about a Faustian Bargain. I’ll tell you what, Aaron. I think I’m ready to share the stuff that I have the rights to, which is almost all of it, and you get dibs. This site is such a labor of love and your motivations are pure, which counts. If you have access to the email filled in, drop me a line. If not, I’ll check back and we’ll do it. There’s probably another 25 or 30 songs. And if you love these, you’ll adore thise. It’s time. Hey, I’m so ready for a little star striking!!!

    Pamela

  • Go to it, people

  • I can’t believe I found any reference to this online. I have this ep. Bought it at Bleecker Bob’s in the early 80’s (when I was 16 or so). My sister and I used to sing “Problem, what problem” over and over. Brings me back to NY. Thanx!

  • Pamela from mechanical servants

    And you know what, Simone? That SOB never paid me! Some things you never forget. But thank you and the idea of you and your sis singing PWP brings me joy. Bringsme back to NY in its glorious pre-Disneyfied days too. It was a lot more Taxi Driver than Lion King. And you could afford to live there. Thanks again, so much.

    Pamela

  • matriculate! Come on, you wrote a song that starts out paying homage to a Lenin-like boyfriend, continues with teenage frustration for lack of weed and cassette tapes, ending in the assassination of your jilted lover by a foreign-born commando – while wearing your pink suit in a limousine. Now that you’ve tried the “pro career” route, isn’t it time to get back to what’s most important in this life?

  • Yes, this is a great low-fi EP from back in the day.
    I found my copy back in the early 90’s while looking
    around at a used record store. I had no idea who they were, but I bought it and have liked it ever since. The cover is a bit beat, but the record is ok. Hmmmm, I wonder where they are today? Perhaps working at the Burger King drive-through.

  • Hey Petz,

    While it is unknown what Victoria Harper is doing today, Pamela has posted several times before your comment.

    She is definitely not working at Burger King and was quite active. She has sent me some of her unreleased recordings and some of them were absolutely jaw dropping.

    – Aaron Levin / Canonical

  • Pamela released an amazing cd: Poppytrail.
    Check it out.
    Pamela, how is Luther?

  • Dear Pamela,

    good to know you are still here….

    My label GrenTzwert considers a re-release of Min X Match. If you are interested please get in touch with me through MySpace.

    Greetings

    A. von Greifenkeil

  • Rob Brinkerhoff

    I have been looking for a CD of this EP for a long time. I have an original vinyl of it that I was turned on to in the 80’s, but that won’t last forever, especially given the play it has gotten from me over the years.

    I would love a CD or MP3. Not sure how to get it though.

  • What a shock! I actually have this album! Pamela, I’m about the same age as you. I lived in Albany around the same time, too. Those were times; the heyday of the Lark Street scene – Kathy’s Waffle Shop, and the like. Kevin Barlett, and Od? And Blotto? And 288 Lark. See, I told you I was there.

    Do you remember a guy, last name name “Cirrin” (I omitted the first name for privacy sake)? He was about the coolest guy I knew, and a good friend. He turned me on to this album, along with Laurie Anderson’s work.

    I was (and still am) a musical nobody, but I had my fifteen seconds. I’ll check back to see if you saw this.

    NYer in Ohio

  • Pamela:
    I saw you as a freshmen in college when you played the Island club in Houston. I still have my original copy of your EP, but would love to get it as mp3’s.
    I would be happy to coughup some money for them cause the songs were so wonderful.

  • Hi all – was a very close friend of Victoria’s in Boston and Paris. I believe she is married with kids now ( ! ) This is a masterpiece Pamela – I don’t believe we ever met – was buds with Jayson Gavann in B-towm

  • Pamela from mechanical servants

    Just checking in, kids. Grabstart, I have very fond memories of playing at The Island. It was the one place we ever played in Texas where we didn’t meet with outright hostility, if not shards of broken glass. :) And those were the last MekServ gigs since we broke up right afterwards and I left for London in September of ’81. I also heard Vic was married and living in Cairo. I hope she’s happy and well. If anyone knows any more, please spill it. Aaron and I are working on some plans for total world domination, so watch this space. He’s out hunting down obscure vinyl somewhere in the wilds of Canada, but, hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do…And, Bruce, many is the evening I wish I’d had my 15 seconds and a nice warm IRA account. There’s a lot to be said for it. But Je Ne Regrette Rien either way as the lady sang, right?

    xoxox
    Pamela

  • Just picked this up recently, great stuff! One of my recent favorites. Sounds just as fresh to me today as I’m sure it did then.

  • Where can we hear more of Pamela Kifer’s (i.e. Poppytrail) material?

  • Michael, I’m fairly certain Pamela may have some Poppytrail CDs. What’s your e-mail and I’ll put you in touch? Mine is:
    vilevin [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Wow! Unbelievable, I lost my first and only copy of The Mechanical Servants album when my entire collection was stolen from my Houston appartment in th mid 80’s. I’ve been searching for a replacement since then without luck.

    I for one would be willing to pay for it again in digital form; pay the artist(s) or a new legit label/provider that is. (I sadly no longer have a way to play LPs.)

    Pamela, I think I may have picked up the album at a 1981 Houston concert… is that possible? What ever the case thank you for providing some musical inspiration for an art student while she did her homework.

  • Robert of the uk

    now pamela – don’t you owe me a postcard?

  • I have this E.P.,too !
    It’s an Vinyl Treasure since 27 Years :-)
    Greetings from Germany,
    Florian

  • I was very proud to bequeath my original much-loved vinyl of this from my post-punk days to my daughter who is now a 20 year college junior, My fellow musicians in SF used to marvel at how wonderful this was — I think Bonnie Hayes once contacted Pam and begged them to play a gig in SF — but they said they could not afford to travel. Timeless work.

  • YAY!
    I first bought Min X Match in 1982 at 14 years old at Replay Records in Santa Fe, NM.
    I’ve always wondered why no-one had ever heard of such an incredible album. Put ‘Mechanical Servants’ or ‘Min x Match’ into the search engine and get…nothing.
    That is, until today.
    If you love music, then you’ll find that there are a couple of albums that kind of define your life in a way. Min X Match is at the top of that short list for me.
    The problem is, though, that I don’t get to hear it very much because I’m afraid to wear out the vinyl.
    So what about all this talk of MP3’s? And especially UNRELEASED MATERIAL? Could it be true?
    I would love to get a digital copy of everything the Mechanical Servants have done.
    If anything, Pamela, you could even create a Myspace page and sell the MP3’s through CDBaby’s Snocap widget.
    Anywho, I can’t thank you enough Pamela and Victoria.
    And thank you Canonical for the forum.

  • absolutely one of my favorites from the period. in the early 80s i was an art student in san francisco. first heard min x match on college radio at UC santa cruz where a friend DJ’d. i (somehow) ended up with the radio station’s copy & it was on permanent rotation at my pad to the point of being worn out. been looking for a fresh copy since. after 20 years of looking, just found a sealed copy of min x match on ebay. played it 5 times today (so far). a work of pure genius! pamela, you have added so much pleasure to my life i cannot thank you enough. if there are more cuts out there we need to hear them.

  • I was an albanian for a while and swear that I saw the mech.servs opening for Rbt Fripp and the League of Gents at JB Scotts, but I might be wrong. At the very least: ahead of their time.

    fun! would like to hear more?

  • Hiya!

    Good news! Institubes, a lovely French label had graciously invited me to put out alllllll of my uneleased stuff and so yesterday I sent FIFTEEN tracks, which they LOVED! Among these were songs I did with the lads from Magazine who I played with after Howard Devoto decamped, a song i wrote with Jerry Dammers of the Specials and an unreleased EP done with Johhny Jostins and produced by Earle Mankey who did the early Sparks Records. So if all goes well, and for once it might, we shoudl see remixed and remastered gems galore over the next few months. i am very excited and glad to be back in the business for the first time in a LONG time.

    Thank you all for your support, your long memories, your turntables and your love. It makes all those nights of hsuling our own amps, not getting paid, getting spit on in Price Chopper, being told we had no talent and everything else more than worthwhile. Not to mention, how happy it makes my little daughter to tell her friends that HER mom was a rock star! HAH! Let’s not mention of what a minimal magnitude. A kid should have SOME illusions…So watch this space. And if you’d like to write me, feel free. I am most definitely back in bizniz.

    Pamela
    shebeingbrandpamela@nycap.rr.com

  • seems like i missed the boat on this one, so hopefully this album will be included in the upcoming releases?
    really nice to read all this. you really ARE a rock star, Pamela. you should automatically be given all the mansions owned by the members of Coldplay and all the cars and yachts owned by the Chemical Romance on general principle. if this doesn’t happen i will personally be outraged.

  • It is so great to find this blog! I love the ep and still have a copy of it. Curiously, like Chadney above, I too bought it at Replay Records in Santa Fe, NM at right around the same time. It’s also super cool to hear from Pamela on here and the possibility of hearing some of that unreleased material is awesome. The songs on “Mix X Match” are wonderful and have stayed with me all this time. I’ll keep checking back for more info.

  • Thomas My personal

    What a surprise!! My personal MS story goes like this: I taped two songs from the Min X Match EP from John Peels Music at BFBS when it was released but forgot to write down the artist’s name! So for more than twenty years I was hunting for a record without even knowing the name. But some years I could finally figure out the name. And so the search went on. Just 4 years ago I managed to find a copy. I can’t tell you how happy I was!!! This record is still one of my all time favorites!!! Grretings from Germany

  • Wendy Green Simpson

    Pamela – PK!!, I made myself a strong cup of coffee, and opened up yet another box of justcan’tthrowitouts from another decade, and there was an old journal, on the page were the words “Mechanical Servants.” I immediately remembered Stuart – remember Stuart? From the Algonquin giving me the name one time when I was in his little retro shop. Guessing this was about fifteen minutes ago. Anyways, I went straight to the Almighty Google and found this blog. Imagine my complete JOY to be listening to you right away, with Vic, OMG you sound amazing. Brings me right back to listening to you sing in stairwells, on sidewalks, in diners, on dance floors…. You are singing as I type this, what a GIFT, brought tear to my eyes. You were always a star in my eyes and ears, PK, so much talent wrapped up in a beautiful smile and brilliant mind. CONGRATS on the upcoming project!!! Please let me know about pre-sales, links, whatever might help me get your sound and spread the word!

    I have a 20-yr old son who plays bass, live in Amherst, MA. Where are you, doll? How old is your daughter? HOW are you? HOW can we find Vic???

    Xoxoxo from TRULY, one of your oldest fans…
    Wendy

  • Dear Aaron ,
    I’m one human being of this world who got this very rare E.P.
    It was a gift of my mate Andreas aka ” Waggy ” in 1981. On this day I were very happy !!!
    John Peel played my favorite track ” Responsateen” many times in his Radio Show !
    Florian

  • …oops I forget again :-)

    Greetings from Germany !!!

  • Robert de la Macclesfield

    .. well I’m pretty sure it’s not my turn ..

  • Jonathan Foote

    ZOMG, my favorite cassette of the ’80s, taped by friend, eaten by car stereo, never found a replacement.

    But still unavailable :(

    Since the vinyl is gone (as is my turntable) and Institubes release nonexistent or “real soon now…” are the mp3s available anywhere? iTunes? Amazon? Would gladly pay — plz don’t make me use bittorrent!

    Thanks!

  • I’m Simone’s sister (6/24/06 note) who used to sing ‘Problem? What Problem?’ with her all the time in NYC. I still remember the words and have the EP. Also love the ‘Johnny Jostins’ song! Another fun one to sing. Every song on this EP is wonderful; Pamela and Victoria did a super groovy job on this. Every song is simply great fun to sing to, even if it’s only in front of your sister! :-)

  • Jonathan,

    If you’ll write me at enigmasmith at nycap.rr.com. I’ll be happy to send you the MP3s. I’m the only, ummm, authorized source. Accent on author. :-)

    xo,

    Pamela

  • Andee Miskiewicz

    dear Pamela, Saw you at Omni’s in Philadelphia in the 80’s and never forgot. Still remember lyrics re jackie kennedy, and have searched for ep ( I once owned.) Defining for me. So SO good.

    Andee mi8kieiwicz

  • anyone know if pamela from Mek.Serv got the French lanel record deal referred to in the Waxidermy postings>
    let me know:
    srorke (at) mchsi (dot) com

  • Hmmmmm, this reminds me of a band called, Poeme Electronique”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BveCsCkTN2I
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTRFWJRZV-0

  • Yeah, did Pamela ever release anything else on Institubes?

    Sadly, Nakion stole the song “Study Up” from Mechanical Servants on her album, Oh Ah!. When I say she “stole” it, she used the same version of the song and added some basic drum track to it. It’s unfairly credited as being written by Nakion on her album (on Tigersushi Records).

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *


*