Dinosaurs (1986)

Dinosaurs album cover art

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1. Every Day Is A Christmas Day   (4:43)     MP3   lyrics chords
2. Cutting the Past Down to Size   (3:45)     MP3   lyrics chords
3. I've Got It All   (3:11)     MP3   lyrics chords
4. Dinosaurs   (4:27)     MP3   lyrics chords
5. Original Sin   (3:41)     MP3   lyrics chords
6. Leaning   (2:32)     MP3   lyrics chords
7. Open the Door   (6:12)     MP3   lyrics
8. Love and Power   (2:11)     MP3   lyrics chords
9. Vertigo I [brief keyboard passage by Matt Lanius]   (0:17)     MP3  
10. Pay-Pay-Pay   (2:43)     MP3   lyrics chords
11. Vertigo II [brief keyboard passage by Matt Lanius]   (0:17)     MP3  
12. Bye Bye SDI   (3:53)     MP3   lyrics chords
13. Postlude: Corral and Fudge [keyboard improv by Matt Lanius]   (0:59)
(based on "Original Sin")
14. Open the Door [guide track + drums]   (5:11)     MP3   lyrics
15. Bye Bye SDI [guide track + drums]   (3:32)     MP3   lyrics chords

Total time:   48:12


# title musicians / singers
1. Every Day Is A Christmas Day EARL: vocal, guitar, keyboards [and bass?]
CHRISTINE LAUNEY: backup vocal
SUSAN PIERCE: backup vocal
CATHERINE SNAITH: backup vocal
  [a.k.a. Leah Catherine Launey]
"JOHNNY" WELLS: backup vocal
Dinosaurs was my first recording project to feature a significant number of guests. Using the mixing board I had bought during my stint with WHAT4, I had recently been doing live sound for local bands and produced a few demos. So when it came time to do my own project, I knew how to mix sound and I had some friends that I could call on for help. James was the drummer for local speed-metal band Chaos Horde. I had produced their demo. I knew Catherine and "Johnny" from their band the ParalElles. I had been their soundman for a time. For this backup vocal session, they brought Catherine's sister Christine and their friend Susan. Christine, who I had never met before, turned out to have the prettiest voice. She had sung in local stage musicals. In addition to singing on this song and "Open the Door," Catherine also loaned me the synthesizer that I used on this project. I believe it was a Juno. The ParalElles broke up shortly afterward, so this may have been the last time "Johnny" and Catherine worked together.
2. Cutting the Past Down to Size EARL: vocal, guitar, piano, bass
"JOHNNY" WELLS: lead guitar
I had been reading some books about relationships, and I learned that it can be problematic when someone is emotionally stuck in the past or stuck in the future. This was my song about being stuck in the past. "Open the Door" was about being stuck in the future ("turning old and grey, waiting for a perfect day"). I was also going to write a song about being stuck in the present, but never got around to it.
3. I've Got It All EARL: vocal, guitars, xylophone, tambourine
Paul and James were both from Chaos Horde. Written at the height of Reagan-era yuppie-mania, this song contains some of my favorite satirical lyrics: "I'm in law school. I'm in med school. I'll be both a doctor and lawyer with pull. And if my patients never recoup, I'll represent their malpractice suits." Reportedly Susan Pierce's husband, a lawyer, was offended by the lyrics. My response: If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.
4. Dinosaurs EARL: vocal, guitar, synthesizers, bass
A song about the tendency of women to marry "up" in social status, and men wanting to marry beauty, which makes life hard for poor guys and plain girls.
5. Original Sin EARL: vocal
MATT LANIUS: keyboard
This was done in a live session. It was my one and only experience singing with keyboard player, probably the closest I'll ever come to doing caberet.
6. Leaning EARL: vocal, guitars, xylophone, bass
I think what I was trying to say in this song is that to have a successful love relationship, each partner must be happy within themselves, you can't look to someone else to make you happy.
7. Open the Door EARL: vocal, guitar, xylophone, bass
MEREDITH CHINN: flute, piccolo
CATHERINE SNAITH: backup vocal (1st verse)
  [a.k.a. Leah Catherine Launey]
"JOHNNY" WELLS: backup vocal (1st verse)
SUSAN PIERCE: backup vocal (2nd verse)
CHRISTINE LAUNEY: backup vocal (2nd verse)
MIGNON LEEFLANG: backup vocal (3rd verse)
CAROLYN COCO: backup vocal (3rd verse)
This song was based around a simple repeating bass line, which left a lot of space for some kind of solo instrument to weave in and out. At first I was unsure what instrument that would be. By chance, Meredith, who was working at a local record store, mentioned that she played flute and would be glad to play on one of my recordings if I wanted. This turned out to be just what the song needed. In keeping with the concept of the lyrics, in which the protagonist is a guy who has been letting good opportunities pass him by, I had six different girls sing the phrase "open the door." Their voices appear on the recording in the order that is shown above.
8. Love and Power EARL: vocal, guitars, bass
I probably got this song idea from listening to Dr. Susan Forward's pop psychology radio show. She used to say that a man who abuses a woman is not in love with her but is merely trying to maintain power over her.
9. Vertigo I MATT LANIUS: keyboard
I think I asked Matt do the keyboard instrumental bits for the simple reason that I had figured out that side two was going to be too short!
10. Pay-Pay-Pay EARL: vocal, guitars, bass, maracas
11. Vertigo II MATT LANIUS: keyboard
12. Bye Bye SDI EARL: vocal, guitars, bass
"SDI" was Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, the missile defense technology more popularly known as "Star Wars." The main problem, critics said, was that there was no practical way to test the system, and yet it had to work perfectly the first time the US was attacked. The song points out that even if a tiny percentage of Soviet warheads got through, it would be enough to cause nuclear winter. The heavy "electric" guitar is in fact the same acoustic 12-string that I used on all my other recordings, but played through a Gallien-Krueger amp that I borrowed from "Johnny" Wells. I had earlier recorded all the guitar tracks using a cheap practice amp, and was unhappy with the sound, so I rerecorded everything with the G-K amp. If not for the use of that amp and Catherine's synthesizer, Dinosaurs would have sounded pretty bad. The guitar notes at the end of the song are a quote of the melody from "Original Sin."
13. Postlude: Corral and Fudge MATT LANIUS: keyboard
This is Matt's improv on my song "Original Sin." He suggested the title. He said it was a kind of in-joke for people who know classical music, a pun on "chorale and fugue."
14. Open the Door
[guide track + drums]
EARL: vocal, guitar
Here are two of the guitar-plus-vocal recordings that James played along with when he recorded his drum parts. The next step in the process (using a 4-track tape deck) was to record bass and guitar over the guide tracks, and mix those tracks for the basic instrumental backing. But I liked how this early version sounded, so before I recorded over the guide tracks I did a rough mix, a kind of pre-production souvenir. Incidentally, "Bye Bye SDI" was originally intended to have a "tribal" sound, with tom-toms, maracas and recorders. It wasn't until later that I decided to use heavy electric guitar instead. You can get a sense of the "tribal" feel in this recording.
15. Bye Bye SDI
[guide track + drums]
Engineered and mixed by Electric Earl.
Recorded October-December 1986.

The original cassette version of this album had track #1-5 on side one, and #6-13 on side two.

Although I had been performing under the stage name Electric Earl since 1983, I continued to use my full legal name on recordings for several more years. This was the first album I released under my stage name.

All words and music by Earl P. Reinhalter, except:
* "Vertigo I" and "Vertigo II" by Matt Lanius.
* "Postlude: Corral and Fudge" by Matt Lanius, based on Earl's song "Original Sin."

This recording of "Every Day Is A Christmas Day" also appeared on Secret Songs (1989) and Tra La La (1993).



This page established: March 8, 2009
Last updated: February 22, 2024

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