The Stroke Band
Green And Yellow
I couldn’t have made up the story line to Georgia’s The Stroke Band had I tried. Here’s the basic plot: Bruce Joyner, a young schoolteacher who is married to a no-good trifling woman, gets paralyzed in a car accident. He takes his insurance money and buys him all of the equipment necessary for a four-piece band. He calls up his buddies, forms a band, and sets about recording a lo-fi rock album that hints at the new wave of the era, but often comes off as something really weird, something truly unique. They can’t get many gigs, but they do play at a strip joint. They release a single and, surprisingly, have local success. The wife gets involved with a cop. The teacher loses his job because of the underage girls who flock to his house. Dude falls into a drug and alcohol binge which comes to an end when he’s informed that he needed to leave town because he is about to be framed for some serious drug trafficking, to which he loads up his car that night and goes to California, where, in a short time, he signs a record deal with a major label. Years later, his two guitarists go on to great acclaim; one wins a Grammy (Mark Neill) , and the other (Don Fleming) has established himself as a world-class producer and musician.
And that’s the history of The Stroke Band!
Of course, with a story like that, there’s no way the music can live up to the reality, right? Well, that’s the surprising part. Green And Yellow, in 2015, sounds rather tame, an amalgam of the lo-fi aesthetic that is commonplace in indie rock, tempered with that particular era’s burgeoning college rock scene. But that’s hindsight. It’s easy to understand just how weird and alien this might have sounded, especially to Southern audiences. Yet there’s a real charm to numbers like “Don’t Get Angry,” with its “96 Tears”-style organ grinding, “Son of Sam” and its comical synth line propelling an ode to the killer, while “Janie’s Living In A Cell” is simply pretty.
This ten-track album is enhanced with a plethora of digital extras. Included is their debut live performance at Joe’s Cellar, and while it’s a rough-sounding recording, it’s clear that The Stroke Band had something. Also included are a handful of demos, practice space recordings, and studio experiments. Some are rough, some are complete, but the most interesting is the final track, “The Law Is Watching You,” which is apparently the band’s last recording—a prophetic realization of the reality that would soon bring the band to a sudden halt.
It’s clear that Joyner had musical talent and songwriting skills, but it was also clear it was never gonna happen for him in Georgia. Green and Yellow is a diamond in the rough—very rough—but its story and its spunky determinism—documented in an excellent zine-size oral history of the group—make it a unique document of a young man’s dreams and visions.