Harvey Danger – Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone? (1998)

Harvey Danger was an American alternative rock band that was formed in Seattle, Washington in 1993 by journalism students at the University of Washington. The band rose to prominence in 1998 with the single “Flagpole Sitta“, which was later used as the theme tune to the British sitcom Peep Show.

All of the 10 songs on the album were recorded in 1996; “Private Helicopter” and “Terminal Annex” were released as a demo that same year sent to music industry professionals on a commercially produced cassette tape, titled simply “Harvey Danger.” Three more, including “Flagpole Sitta,” were sent on a one-off cassette tape to Slash/London Records at the request of Greg Glover, an intern who was convinced on the strength of the recordings that he should fund a full album. All of the recordings, save one (“Carjack Fever”), became Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?

“I’m not sick, but I’m not well” whines vocalist Sean Nelson in “Flagpole Sitta,” the first single released from Harvey Danger‘s 1998 debut album. Such studied bile and wry wordplay abound on this lyrically and musically very solid first effort. Rather than pigeonholing themselves into a sub-genre, Harvey Danger seem to have incorporated a variety of “alternative” influences — notably the Pixies, the Wedding Present, and Joy Division — plus bits of Gang of Four, Sonic Youth, the Smiths, Hole, Green Day, Buzzcocks, Ride, and Iggy Pop. The band’s use of dynamics on this album is subtle and skillful, gliding within one song from a whisper to a Wall of Noise and back again seamlessly. With its melodic basslines and roomy, fuzz-box guitars chugging away at forceful riffs that straddle the line between ’70s British punk and ’80s indie, Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? should be immediately accessible to fans of intelligent, sardonic, hard-edged rock. In “Private Helicopter,” Nelson sneers “If you’ve got greatness in you, would you do us all a favor and keep it to yourself?” Fortunately, Harvey Danger have chosen not to take their own advice.

Tracklist

1.  “Carlotta Valdez” – 2:44
2.  “Flagpole Sitta” – 3:35
3.  “Woolly Muffler” – 4:30
4.  “Private Helicopter” – 3:31
5.  “Problems and Bigger Ones” – 5:41
6.  “Jack the Lion” – 5:30
7.  “Old Hat” – 3:48
8.  “Terminal Annex” – 3:43
9.  “Wrecking Ball” – 4:39
10.  “Radio Silence” (Includes hidden track after – 5:15
(a partial recording of “Carjack Fever” from Fuel Soundtrack played backwards.) 5:15/8:26

All lyrics written by Harvey Danger; all music composed by Harvey Danger.

Personnel

Aaron Huffman – Bass, cover design
Jeff J. Lin – Guitar, organ, violin, backing vocals
Sean Nelson – Vocals
Evan Sult – drums
Abby Grush – Backing vocals
John Goodmanson – Production, engineering, mixing
Harvey Danger – Production
Greg Calbi – Mastering
Chuck Robertson – Photography

Notes
Released: July 29, 1997
Recorded: 1996 Studio John & Stu’s Place (Seattle, Washington)
Genre: Punk Rock
Length: 42:56

Label – Arena Rock Records