The Sleepers broke up at least once before their first show on Christmas Day 1977 at Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco’s center of the underground universe. While intensely unpredictable singer Ricky Williams played in other bands such as Crime and Toiling Midgets, The Sleepers were on their own rock ’n’ roll planet—somewhere between punk, post-punk and psychedelic. As Joe Carducci wrote in Rock and the Pop Narcotic, “The Sleepers were an awesome powerhouse live. They were an appropriate refinement of The Stooges, and what Joy Division might have developed into had they the balls.”
1981’s Painless Nights is their only album. In fact, it is one of the few full-length LPs to come out of San Francisco during this era. From the opening tracks “When Can I Fly?” and “Walk Away” (featuring Alex Gibson and Tom Recchion of BPeople), Painless Nights captures The Sleepers’ fluid and volatile sound. Guitarist Michael Belfer’s (Tuxedomoon) lo-fi textures and incisive riffs serve as the perfect counterpoint to Williams’s improvisational lyrics. Perhaps if the band had not broken up for the last time soon after its release, this amazing record would be even more known today.
This first-time reissue comes from the original analog source and features a new insert with liner notes by Carducci and includes a digital download card.