The Magnetic Fields’ first two albums, The Wayward Bus and Distant Plastic Trees, make their debut appearance here on vinyl, packaged together as a two-LP set.
Distant Plastic Trees was originally released in England and Japan in 1991. The album includes the early-’90s college radio single “100,000 Fireflies” which had earlier appeared as a single on Harriet Records and was later covered by Superchunk.
For its domestic debut, Distant Plastic Trees was paired with the Magnetic Fields’ 1992 album The Wayward Bus on a single CD that came out on the band’s own PoPuP Records imprint before its re-release on Merge in 1994. While both albums feature singer Susan Anway (formerly of early-’80s Boston punk band V;), the latter introduced several new players who would subsequently make regular appearances on Merritt’s various musical projects. “With the 1991 debut album Distant Plastic Trees, the Magnetic Fields’ composer and frontman Stephin Merritt introduced the first incarnation of the Magnetic Fields. On this album, deadpan vocalist Susan Anway sings lyrics of heartbreak and surrealism over a bed of inscrutable instruments played and programmed by Merritt,” Handler explains. “The second album, The Wayward Bus, adds cellist Sam Davol, tuba player Johny Blood and percussionist Claudia Gonson to create a plinky, orchestral sound in tribute to pop producer Phil Spector and his ‘Wall of Sound.’”
The album artwork on both Distant Plastic Trees and The Wayward Bus was created by watercolorist Wendy Smith, who had also painted album covers for the Rough Trade band Weekend (a musical project from members of Young Marble Giants). Her beautiful wrap-around paintings, now printed in a larger format, along with remastered audio make this two-LP set an exciting addition to the Magnetic Fields discography.
LP Track Listing:
1. When You Were My Baby
2. The Saddest Story Ever Told
3. Lovers From the Moon
5. Tokyo Á Go-Go
6. Summer Lies
7. Old Orchard Beach
9. Dancing in Your Eyes
10. Suddenly There Is a Tidal Wave
1. Railroad Boy
2. Smoke Signals
3. You Love to Fail
5. Babies Falling
6. Living in an Abandoned Firehouse With You
7. Tar-Heel Boy
8. Falling in Love With the Wolfboy
10. 100,000 Fireflies