Pressed For Time
Media Condition: M
Sleeve Condition: M
Genre: Rock, Power pop, Classic rock
Notes: RSD 2017 edition. Limited pressing of 1500 copies. Unopened–stickers on shrink wrap from previous retail environment.
If you like: the iconic power pop of Todd Rundgren, Big Star, Dwight Twilley Band, and even the early sound of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, you’re sure to fall hard and fast in love with Pressed For Time and, consequently, share in the frustration that this album did not have a proper release–one it very damn well deserved.
About: Born in Brooklyn in 1952, John Scoggins was bitten early and Zika-like by the Beatles-bug through the singles of his older sister; his condition, by the early ‘70s, showing zero signs of abating. After playing drums in and around on the street with local NYC garage groups, John, by the early ‘70s, not taking drugs and not interested in thirty-minute-renditions of ‘Dark Star,’ made his ends in occupations seemingly tailor-made for Raspberries or Bruce Springsteen lyrics: pumping gas during the day, hauling crates, amps and PA’s for various Long Island boogie and cover bands during the night.
Though credited solely to John Scoggins on the cover, Pressed For Time was actually the product of a five-piece ensemble called Ramparts, who played all the major haunts of the day–Max’s Kansas City, Great Gildersleeves, Bells Of Hell, My Father’s Place–and whose membership, John claimed, despite whatever their favored group might be at the time, could all agree that The Beatles were the best. Ramparts played as perennial openers for local glitter and street rock combos such as Stumblebunny and The Andrew Pearson Band among others. The band, however did also garner more high-profile shots such as being first on the bill for The Blues Project, Heart, and Neil Young & Crazy Horse at the Nassau Coliseum.
That said, The Ramparts crew would have done much better to ask a few more questions when an anonymous, accented voice offered them a contract on Tiger Lily Records over the phone based solely upon some demo recordings TLR label execs had supposedly heard at Master Sound Studios. “We weren't even there. I called Vinni up, and I said, ‘Oh my God, we got a contract over the phone!’”
A story much too long and sordid to tell here in depth and in its entirety; suffice it to say, Tiger Lily Records had more in common with waste management in their distribution system and mission statement than they did, say, with Jerry Wexler or Mo Ostin.
Unlike many others caught in the Tiger Lily drift-net, Scoggins and Ramparts were given considerable input and leeway, being allowed to choose the album title and oversee the record cover-shoot, with Scoggins, looking all-the-world like a Todd Rundgren stunt-double, playing an acoustic guitar surrounded, for some reason, by a circling throng of tan, naked nymphs.
Though given the nature of the situation, Pressed For Time was never going to be a break-out hit, Scoggins promoted the album as best he could when it was released in December 1976, sending out press copies with 8x10s and corrected credits, even garnering some airplay on Jim Kerr’s show on WPJL: New York’s then major AOR station.
What Tiger Lily did was nothing. The album went exactly where its financiers had hoped: nowhere. Pressed For Time became a number-one loss-leader.
The fate of Pressed For Time as a write-off would be sad even if the album was only mediocre. That Shaw was not kidding at all in his brief description elevates Pressed For Time into the realm of the truly tragic. Of the album’s ten tracks, there is only one wasted moment, a joke cowpoke country song (‘She’s Long, She’s Tall’) which Scoggins himself described as an unfortunate live favorite that he didn’t even want to record.*via C.W. Makamson & Dave C. Keady (via liner notes)
Why it’s worth your time: Oh what the musical landscape could’ve (and should’ve) looked like with more John Scoggins in the mix...this notion has always exhorted me into writing a much too lengthy essay on how wonderful this album is–but I’ll refrain and let you have a listen for yourself.
I discovered Pressed For Time on a list of the greatest power pop albums of all time (in the company of my favorites Todd Rundgren and Big Star) compiled on a niche music blog in the early 2010s. I was intrigued, but I was a teenager and paying hundreds of dollars for an obscure Tiger Lily pressing was not an option. So I forgot about it. At least, until 2017. That’s when it was reissued for Record Store Day. I was ecstatic. It’s not often that a first listen feels so revolutionary–I simply knew that what I was hearing was a cut above.
To classify what was done with this inimitable album as tragic is no understatement. The Ramparts and Scoggins really deserved so much better (and a real record deal). Thankfully, it seems as if Scoggins is still writing wonderful songs, listen here.
A favorite track: We’ll Always Be