...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sub Pop Singles Club: A Retrospective

From November 1988 through December 1993, and then again from April 1998 until its final permanent demise in February 2002, the Sub Pop Singles Club (of the famed Seattle independent record label) offered its subscribers some awesomely rare gems on a monthly basis by mail.

If you were musically aware enough to be a member of the Sub Pop Singles Club, you would have gotten a 7" record every month with two or three songs from someone on Sub Pop's roster, which has hosted some of my all-time favorite bands. I remember once on a college-scouting trip to Seattle how I sought out the Sub Pop record store on 2nd Avenue and felt like I was standing in my own personal Mecca. Picture the sound of angels singing, like in the movies, with me shrouded in golden light, surrounded on all sides by Polaroid pictures of the patron saints of rock.

I found this eloquent description on The Ratio of the allure of the Sub Pop Singles Club. It encapsulates why this was such a cool concept and why I wanted to write about it today:

"The concept of the Singles Club occupies an exalted position in my imagination, an altar at which I often pause to reflect on its multifarious beneficences.

o the music snob, it promises to fulfill the fantasy of being repeatedly introduced to completely mindblowing songs by completely unknown bands.

To the parcel enthusiast whose aesthetic sensibility is entirely bound up in the impractical, it assures the sublime and elegant monthly delivery of a brown cardboard sleeve in which is concealed a 7” disc of coloured vinyl that must be spun at 45 RPM and demands that i
ts listener get up from his or her seat every two minutes to flip it over.

A 7” from a singles club is the antithesis of a CD bought at HMV or an iTunes download.
It is tactile, scarce, secret, and beautiful."

To give you a sense of the offerings from the Singles Club, the first three 7"s were Nirvana, Mudhoney & Sonic Youth, and The Flaming Lips. Yep, and it all progressed from there, with some of the final offerings being from groups like Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse and The White Stripes. In retrospect, I don't know why I never joined this club (maybe because I was 9 when the club started? and then a poor high school student for the second round? or maybe I didn't have a record player?), but here are some examples of the cool 7"s that I would now have if I had been a member from the beginning:

Update 11/12/06: COMPLETE ZIP FILE re-upped

"Love Buzz" - Nirvana
"Big Cheese" - Nirvana

"Touch Me I'm Sick" - Mudhoney
(notable tie-in with Singles, one of my favorite movies)
"Halloween" - Sonic Youth

"Strychnine/What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understanding" - The Flaming Lips
"Drug Machine" - The Flaming Lips

"Joe #1" - Fugazi
"Break-In" - Fugazi
"Song #1" - Fugazi

"Shove" - L7
"Packin' A Rod" - L7

MAY 1990
"House" - Babes In Toyland
"Arriba" - Babes in Toyland

JULY 1990
"Earache My Eye" - Rollins Band
"You Know Me" - Rollins Band (don't have)

"Psychobilly Freakout" - The Reverend Horton Heat
"Baby, You Know Who" - The Reverend Horton Heat

APRIL 1991
"Neon Zebra" - Shonen Knife
"Bear Up Bison" - Shonen Knife

MAY 1991
"(Now That's) The Barclords" - Urge Overkill
"What's This Generation" - Urge Overkill

JUNE 1991
Alice Cooper Tribute
"Is It My Body?" - Sonic Youth
(and 3 other songs)

"Big Yule Log Boogie" - Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
"My Christmas Wish" - Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

APRIL 1998
"Birthday" - The Jesus & Mary Chain
"Hide Myself" - The Jesus & Mary Chain

MAY 1998
"Never Ending Math Equation" - Modest Mouse
"Workin' On Leavin' The Livin'" - Modest Mouse

"You Alone" - Ron Sexsmith (don't have)
"We'll Manage" - Ron Sexsmith
(no cover art available)

"10 Minutes" - The Get Up Kids
"Anne Arbour" - The Get Up Kids

JUNE 1999
"Let's Start A Family" - Bonnie "Prince" Billy
"A Whorehouse is Any House" - Bonnie "Prince" Billy

JULY 1999
"Song A" - Pedro The Lion
"Song B" - Pedro The Lion

"Butterfly Stroke" - Mudhoney
"Editions of You" - Mudhoney

MARCH 2000
"Underwater" - Death Cab For Cutie
"The Army Corps of Architects" - Death Cab For Cutie

"Party of Special Things To Do" - The White Stripes
"China Pig" - The White Stripes
"Ashtray Heart" - The White Stripes

MARCH 2001
"I Will Be Grateful For This Day. I Will Be Grateful For Each Day To Come" - Bright Eyes
"When The Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under The Glass Again" - Bright Eyes

"Leaving On A Jet Plane" - J Mascis
"Too Hard" - J Mascis

"Jam Eater Blues" - The Mountain Goats
"Straight Six" - The Mountain Goats
"Store" - The Mountain Goats
(no cover art available)

MARCH 2002
"Call Your Boys" - Iron & Wine
"Dearest Forsaken" - Iron & Wine

A (mostly but not 100%) complete Sub Pop Singles Discography is available here.

Ones I wanted but couldn't find (let me know if you can help me out!):
JANUARY 1991: Nirvana -- "Candy" & "Molly's Lips" (live)
MARCH 1993: Dead Moon - "Dirty Noise" & "Dark Deception"
SEPTEMBER 1998: Ron Sexsmith -- "You Alone"
APRIL 1999: Beachwood Sparks -- "Midsummer Daydream" & "Windows 65"

There are a dwindling number of leftover singles available to purchase on the Sup Pop site. When I strike it wildly rich (and have, like, $4500 to spare), I am going to buy me the complete back catalog of these singles on eBay or something (to complement the complete set of vinyl Pearl Jam Christmas singles that I have and am most proud of).

Oh, and PS - I have a record player now. Thank goodness.


At August 25, 2006 6:31 PM, Blogger Ledbelly said...

Might be your best post in a while, thank you! thank you!

At August 25, 2006 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate it when I hear about something cool that is long over and I had no idea ever existed. Actually, I like it--nice post.

At August 25, 2006 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fucking amazing post. what a tremendous act of public service. keep on keepin' on!

At August 25, 2006 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! I've longed to hear many of these over the years. Thank you.

At August 25, 2006 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy crap amazing. love this post for reals! :)

At August 25, 2006 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

these gems are more valuable than gold and more precious than diamonds.

At August 25, 2006 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At August 25, 2006 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hott post. I've been looking for a rip of "Party of Special Things to Do" for awhile. You are so bookmarked.

At August 25, 2006 9:43 PM, Blogger Dirt - LPBME said...

Very, very cool. The early Jack White is truly priceless.

At August 25, 2006 10:22 PM, Blogger aikin said...

awesome, awesome post, Heather! I'm always excited to find new (old) White Stripes. I was in Seattle a few years ago, tracked down the SubPop headquarters and was bummed to learn nothing much happens there anymore.

At August 26, 2006 12:46 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Awesome. Don't know why I never subscribed to this because I wanted to from day one (must have felt cash poor at the time).

Of course, I have now come to terms with my adoration of Barry Manilow, so hope to post the complete BM album set some time soon...

At August 26, 2006 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How cool is that?!?! Me likey long time!

At August 26, 2006 1:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thx u fr reput teh mp3s plz thnx

At August 26, 2006 8:09 AM, Blogger heather said...

EZArchive seems to be missing in action. Rest assured, I did not take the files down. If you can't get em, come back. And while you're at it, think of some ideas of where else I can host my files, eh?

At August 26, 2006 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Heather. Really looking forward to hearing the Bright Eyes tracks. And PJ on TV @ Reading Festival tomorrow night.

At August 26, 2006 6:55 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

I am speechless. This is gonna be hard to beat my friend...

At August 27, 2006 8:13 AM, Blogger jiwaki said...

thank you so much!! it brings me back in the early 90s... great post!

At August 27, 2006 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fantastic post heather. a treasure trove of songs and framed with your usual abundance of general coolness.

thx, cwb

At August 27, 2006 11:24 AM, Blogger Ryan Spaulding said...

Fantastic job! I wonder how long that took you to assemble. Brilliant.

At August 27, 2006 11:52 AM, Blogger Jorge Flores-Oliver, aka Blumpi said...


At August 27, 2006 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is terrific. For newbies like me, it'll be an education. Thanks so much.

At August 27, 2006 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone have any ideas on how to break these down for burning to CD? I assume they won't all fit on one disk.

At August 27, 2006 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a transplanted northwesterner stuck (temporarily) in the midwest, this is a little slice of home. Excellent work!

At August 27, 2006 8:23 PM, Blogger heather said...

Hey, anonymous. If you are using iTunes, it should do it for you, my guess is onto maybe three discs, cuz it's 50 songs. Or you could manually divide it into fairly equal parts of, say, 16, 16, and 18. Although some of the sets are three-songers, hence an uneven CD. Oh, the many options. I haven't burned it myself (but should, huh?) so I am really of no help. I'll stop talking now.

At August 28, 2006 10:17 AM, Blogger tad said...

wow, this is fantastic! love your site by the way

At August 28, 2006 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it bad that i'm most impressed that you have the complete PJ christmas single collection?

once again-great post!

At August 28, 2006 10:29 AM, Blogger heather said...

kristen - yay! someone else who thinks that is as cool as i do!

Sometimes I just take them all out and look at them.

At August 28, 2006 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy God! will you marry me??? I mean thanks Heather, great post... I'm from Peru (yep.. faraway) and Sub Pop it's one of my favorite labels ever, so listen all this songs it's like a dream. THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!
But the way: sorry for my english, I know it's not perfect but don't blame me, at least I try :P

At August 28, 2006 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mudhoney / Green River changed my life back in the day!!!!

At August 28, 2006 4:21 PM, Blogger heather said...

So much of the Sub Pop roster kind of changed my life.

At August 28, 2006 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heather, I think 3 discs it is. I can't wait. Thanks again.

Oh, and I can't believe you have ALL the XMas singles. I like the second one when Ed isn't shy, he's pissed.

At August 29, 2006 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. Sometimes I feel alone in my longing for the Sub Pop catalog to show up on emusic.

If anyone has ripped the Hazel 7" with the song Jilted, you can be my BFF...

At August 29, 2006 9:51 PM, Blogger joe said...

ditto to all of the above accolades... truly is one of the best posts eva

At August 30, 2006 8:59 AM, Blogger Rinjo Njori said...

This made my month. What a present...



At September 01, 2006 1:46 PM, Blogger raul said...

I echo everyone else by saying Holy crap! (I actually said it out loud as I scrolled down... and seeing the big zip file at the end I think my exact words were, "Heather I worship you." I was a member of the club and had most of the records, which I treasured, but my house was robbed and i lost them all. So this was a sonic reuinon of sorts. Great post. My ears are happy.

At September 02, 2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!!

At September 03, 2006 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



I have that ticket to join to Sub Pop Club, but I don't know if it's applicable to people that aren't from US

greetings from Mexico =P

At September 11, 2006 5:16 PM, Blogger heather said...

A, I downright laughed out loud at that, and the image in my mind of you, juggling a bunch of beers in my honor. What a fantastic idea. Wish I could join you.

At September 13, 2006 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man, did I really miss this? I really wanted that Ron Sexsmith song.

At September 14, 2006 12:45 AM, Blogger heather said...

I didn't take em down! Maybe it is a server problem - Retry later?

At September 14, 2006 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are like an anthropolgist who found an ancient Egyptian treasure from which we all benefit. Great find!

I thought I was never going to be able to find the album art to the DCfC song "Underwater".

At September 18, 2006 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are awesome.


At October 17, 2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Bradly O. said...

Like the Jet Plane version...

In 1986-87 The band I played guitar in: "The Masterbeats" covered "Leaving On A Jet Plane" it was on a demo tape. We played it live a gazillion times.

It was a thrashed up version...we did stuff like that. We covered "My World is Empty With Out You" and a few other cheesy 60's pop tunes in a high thrash, 'Mats manner.

This was in Minneapolis in the day. 7th Street Entry, Williams Pub, the Union, Fernandos, Uptown Bar & Grill.

got a bunch junk for free DL here:


Still thrashing...I guess...

At October 29, 2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

awwww...the songs are gone? :(

At November 02, 2006 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

another sort of anonymos "awwww" since the songs are gone...forever? i hope not. please, would you upload them again?

At January 11, 2007 9:28 AM, Blogger DMc said...

Hey there, just discovered the site, nice stuff.

I hate to be anal, but the version of Nirvana's Love Buzz you have on here isn't actually the one from the single. The single version had a sound collage as an intro. I've been looking for that version forever, but haven't had any luck.


At January 11, 2007 9:50 AM, Blogger heather said...

Thanks, DM. I actually knew that but can't find the original either. If anyone finds it, I will gladly replace the mp3 here with the correct one. Thanks again for pointing it out -

At February 02, 2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might be going mad, but I seem to remember a Sub Pop singles club 7" by Mercury Rev... on one side, 'If You Want Me To Stay' by Sly Stone, on the other a song called something like 'The Left Handed Raygun Of Paul Sharits'... or did I dream it?

At February 04, 2007 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was a member of the singles club for years, and still have all my singles. if you need that molly's lips one i'll send you a copy. great post!

At February 05, 2007 5:22 AM, Blogger heather said...

Yes please aj!!!

At February 16, 2007 8:49 PM, Blogger gretchen said...

If you like the Get Up Kids, you should check out the Paper Chase...they've got an awesome sound unlike any other. Check them out at www.thepaperchase.net and see their full tour schedule as well as s ome clips of their tunes!

At May 10, 2007 12:42 AM, Blogger j said...

Thank you...

At July 22, 2007 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have the Rapeman edition of sub pop singles club? I've been looking for it forever. Also, thanks for posting these

At October 18, 2007 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The zip file rocks. Thanks for the great post.

At January 15, 2008 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have few more singles that aren't here..e.g.: les thugs, TAD/Pussy Galore, Lazy Cowgirls, Rapeman, Lonely Moans, Dwarves, Honeymoon Killers, The Gories, Royal Trux, Smells Like Sauced Sausages, Rocket from the crypt, Didjits, Lou Barlow, Kinski + 7inch version of Love Buzz

At January 17, 2008 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on share the wealth...

Can you post a link or forward to someone else to host?

At May 29, 2008 6:28 PM, Blogger Notice said...

Killer post - here's a link to the original Nirvana Love Buzz Vinyl Single. Hope you dig it! Check out my blog over at http://blewharvest.blogspot.com/


At July 12, 2008 4:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I loved this post. I just wanted to let you know Sub Pop is starting up the club again. Kind of as a 20 anniversary thing.
Here's the link


At September 07, 2008 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

At October 11, 2008 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exelente trabajo de investigacion, me encanta. Que estes bien!!!!

At November 07, 2008 11:17 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Heather is teh tits.

At November 28, 2008 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The links are broken!

Please restore it as soon as possible because it's a public service! hehehe


At December 23, 2008 6:50 AM, Blogger wardo said...

Been looking for the Spencer songs fro a while now -- opening the ZIP as I type!

At December 29, 2008 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the zip file. Much appreciated.

Does anyone have the Black Mountain mp3's from the 2008 sub pop singles club?

Austin,T X


Post a Comment

<< Home

Stats tracked by StatCounter