It’s not often I get to share a record that is ten years older than I am and at the same time call it new music, yet Mad Anthony are a very welcome source of confusion. Formed in the American mid-west in the 1970’s Mad Anthony were the trio of John K. Schwab, the late Larry Dotson, and Carl “Mad Anthony” Richards, who after making their name in the Ohio club scene decamped to California to record what was meant to be the demos that would signal their breakthrough moment. Sadly the record deal and world tour never came to be and the demos were largely lost to the annals of time. That was until the songs found their way to Ben Schwab, a musician with Drugdealer and Sylvie and crucially to this tale, the son of John K. Schwab, who after seven years of persuading, talked the band into finally introducing themselves to the world, with their nearly fifty-year-old debut album, The Lost Tapes. With the record set for release next year via Earth Libraries, today the band are premiering the first single from it, Rina.
Like all of The Lost Tapes, Rina has the crackling sound you’d expect from a vintage two-track recording, the band members gathering around a single microphone to perfect the signature 1970’s harmonies you’d bank on from a band who started off covering everyone from The Beatles to Crosby, Stills & Nash. What really shines though is the quality of the songwriting on show, although Schwab Sr. took some persuading of the fact, “I used to tell my son, ‘You can play all the hot licks, be the Eddie Van Halen of your neighborhood, but nothing will last as long as a good song,” Schwab says. “We didn’t have the ability to properly record in 1975, but Ben reminded me that it’s the quality of the songs that matters, not the recording“.
Built around warm piano chords, soaring harmonies and fluttering lead guitars, Rina tells the story of a romance between John and Rina, a girl he met when he was visiting Israel in the 1970s. The song seems to reflect on the importance of keeping the faith that love will come your way, even if others think you should just move on with your life, “left all by herself, a picture on the shelf, a man she’s never met but hopes to know”. It might be a few decades late but Benjamin was right to talk his father around, The Lost Tapes is a very special record, made all the better by the story and the love that went into bringing it to the world, as Benjamin puts it he’s, “really excited the world finally gets to hear this”, and you know what, I think they’re going to love it.