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The Vulgar Boatmen were formed in Florida in 1982 by Robert Ray
(a professor at the University of Florida) and
three of his students, including Walter Salas-Humara.
After they had released two cassettes, Ray met Indiana-resident
(and former Gizmos)
Dale "Kirkland" Lawrence and the band became a more serious affair.
Ispired by the folk-rock revival of nearby Georgia, the duo
of Ray and Lawrence
began writing soulful tunes and singing of domestic joys, a style that
descended straight from Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.
You And Your Sister (Record Collect, 1989) contains such
melodic gems as Margaret Says and Change The World All Around,
rather straightforward melodies propelled by an unusually creative rhythm
section. But more influential on future generations will be the simple
stories of everyday life
(Mary Jane and the six-minute Drive Somewhere) crooned
with earnest vocals, that predate the boom of alt-country.
The soul of the band was torn between the naif pop and the country-rock
Salas-Humara had already moved to New York and formed the
Please Panic (Caroline, 1992) has more
memorable refrains (I'm Not Stuck On You, Allison Says), but
the songwriters truly shine in the plaintive ballads (Don't Mention It,
You're The One,
You Don't Love Me Yet, We Can Figure This Out).
With Ray and Lawrence distracted by other jobs, the band languished for a
few years. Opposite Sex (East West, 1995) mark a decent return
(When We Walk, Shake, In A Minute).