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electric eels

Cleveland, 1972-5 

The electric eels provided the maximum shock in Cleveland's mid 70s proto-punk scene. The band was led by the bleached blond football lineman build guitarist John Morton, and fronted by singer Dave E McManus. McManus and Morton attended Lakewood High School, and with another LHS student Brian McMahon started the 'band', which preferred to have their moniker spelled out all lower case.

Like their Lakewood neightbors Mirrors, they proceeded to get themselves booked to play a few live shows at local clubs. If they were able to actually get up on stage, their initial shows, including 'playing' non instruments like a running gas lawnmower and banging on an anvil. 

McMahon left and Paul Marotta, who was a skilled multi-instrumentalist who had already recorded a DIY EP "tool" joined, only to leave, come back, leave, etc. Brian McMahon rejoined (he was also playing with his brother Kevin McMahon in the glam-rock band My Stars. Kevin McMahon would form Lucky Pierre a couple years later), and they found a real drummer in Nick Knox. 

The last lineup of Morton, McManus, McMahon, and Knox got serious enough to record. McMahon had a song that he had first worked on to be a glam riff song for My Stars. The electric eels took that song - Agitated - and turned it into one of the most abrasive true original punk songs ever. They recorded an LPs and more worth, including "Cyclotron", "Spin age Blasters" aka "Spinach Blasters", "Silver Daggers", "Jaguar Ride", and more sounds of a rapidly decaying Cleveland. Nothing was released at the time, but in 1978 Rough Trade records in the UK issued "Agitated" b/w Cyclotron", with faux German credits, just in time to make it seem like it was a left field hard punk record....almost no one knew it predated the Ramones first LP by a year. Another 45 of these recordings was released in 1982

Along with the recordings, they tried playing a couple shows as a band, culminating in their last show for radio station WRUW, the headlining band for the station's summer "Studio-A-Rama" all day music show. The eels were no more, but several of their songs had new life through follow on bands the Poly Styrene Jass Band aka Styrenes (Paul Marotta), and X_X (John Morton). Nick Knox joined the Cramps (after they moved to NYC)

Agitated / Cyclotron - Rough Trade 8, 1978
Spinach Blasters / Bunnies - Mustard 107, 1982
a couple retrospective comps