Formed in 2001, the Duchess of Saigon were Mary and Richard. Two artists, they met at UC Davis, started seeing each other and then formed a band. Though Richard had been in a handful of Sacramento bands (Rick & the Young Rogues, Sir & the Young Men), Duchess was Mary's first band. She was handed the drum duties...and good thing, too! Because she was unencumbered by formal lessons, Mary developed a unique drumming style in which she would keep the beat with her feet and play the melody with her hands. The unconventional approach to percussion, as well as her ethereal backing vocals, gave Richard's VU-influenced garage-pop songs an excellent twist. Byron Coley of The Wire likened them to the Carpenters if played by the Shaggs.
The first time I saw Duchess of Saigon, they were horrible. Just a goddamn mess of a band. However, the second time, six months later, they convinced me they were the best band in town and I hurriedly asked them if I could put out a record. That record is Easter Queen. We pressed 300, it finally went out of print. Another Sacramento label, Plastic Idol, put out their second seven inch. It is as good as the first.
The Duchess were working on an album, but recording and equipment problems kept dragging the project on. Mary, frustrated with her drumming, lost interest and quit. About a year later, both Mary and Richard picked up and moved to Florida and then to Detroit. Fall of 2010, I was going through the S.S. archives and came upon a tape from the 2005 abandoned album sessions. Wow! Time has been very, very good to the Duchess of Saigon! I bumped into Richard when he was visiting Sacramento and proposed to put out a limited pressing of unreleased Duchess songs. He said, "Go for it!" and here it is!
This limited edition contains 16 songs culled from sessions recorded by Chris Woodhouse from 2002 to 2005, every one of them as good as anything on the Duchess of Saigon's two aforementioned EPs. Sleeve designed and screened by S.S. (SS058)
300 pressed. Down to less than 30.
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