I don’t intend to turn this column into a discography of alternate sleeves but there are a few more notable examples that I’d like to hit upon before dropping the topic and moving on to more fun things. I’m just going to pick up where I left off last time, in the saddest depths of nerd hell. Let’s look at some more sleeves, shall we?

Last Sons of Krypton “Atom Bomb” +3 (Decay 1996)

Last Sons of Krypton’s debut is one of those records that perfectly capture the feeling of what it is like to be a kid, out of touch with your peers, and stuck in the middle of nowhere. This is, for many of us, what defined punk rock, at least for a period of our lives. “Atom Bomb” was pressed in two editions of 300 copies, first on the band’s own Decay Records, then a couple of years later by Rerun Records. In any form it is a must-own, but for collector scum, Decay is the way to go.

Band members had access to a photocopier so the Decay business model was to press up the records and then deal with making sleeves as they went along. This was typically done in small batches as orders came in, thus opening the door for a myriad of variants. Others have been rumored, some of which most certainly exist as mock-ups, but the list below seems to be the extent of the sleeves that were actually duplicated for distribution.

Last Sons of Krypton - Atom Bomb

The standard sleeve, which accompanied most copies and was reused for the reissue, has a photo of the band squeezed onto a couch in a messy room. I should note that the band befriended an incredible duo of photographers, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, whose portraits of LSOK are among my favorite band photos. More importantly, they reinforce the sense of suburban ennui while establishing a series of iconic images. (These along with stories of the underage drunken escapades, a cache of stellar unreleased material, and the MRR cover—or at least one band member’s infatuation with it—have helped shape their legacy). Astute observers will note how, curiously, the slip of paper on which the song titles were written is folded over on the bottom corner. It’s an endearing bit of graphic design, even more so that it was not fixed on the reissue. Well, welcome to the most minute sleeve variation that I’ve ever purposefully tracked down. The first copies that were run off featured unfolded titles. At some point after that, the sleeve must have been tussled, corner folded over and never fixed, and all subsequent copies printed as such. Wow. I’d feel even more shamed but after figuring this one out all my friends had to run out and round up both copies too.

Last Sons of Krypton - Atom Bomb - fold variants Last Sons of Krypton - Atom Bomb - last 30

At least one batch was shipped to Busy Kids Distro in Austin with a new sleeve design in which the band was posed against a brick wall. Whoever manned the copier couldn’t find their scissors on the day these were done and they all seem to have the right side ripped to size. This one is tough to find, but the most elusive sleeve has another Shimon & Lindemann shot of the band standing in front of a car in a Big Lots parking lot. This sleeve was likely never sold but a few copies were made and recently turned up in the collection of a band member. At some point, the band moved to Florida where, apparently, the last 80-100 copies sold without sleeves. For good measure the last 30 copies were labeled as such and numbered.

Last Sons of Krypton -Atom Bomb Mk. II

Satans “Get Off My Back” +3 (Existential Vacuum 1994)
Cool and easy to find, this Satans EP is an underrated ripper worth grabbing. 200 of the 1000 pressed were on blue vinyl but the ambitious collector should hold out for the alternate sleeve. These were printed up to accompany the 15 test presses and given to friends of the band/label. The twist is that my copy is paired with a blue vinyl record and numbered out of 16 copies. No one can remember why or if there are more like it.

Satans - Get off My Back

Splash Four “Funbangers” EP (Royal 1995)
Oh, hey, no story here, but all of the Splash Four records are fantastic, this one especially. 100 copies had an alternate silk-screened sleeve designed by Olaf Ladousse. It’s a beauty!

Splash Four - Funbangers

The Knotts one-sided 7” (Star Time 1998)
Down in Tucson, Fells drummer Rob Alper and some friends honed in on the Rip Off sound. House-party garage, it may not have been transcendent but it’s still a good time. In line with the Rip Off aesthetic, the band pressed up a pair of one-sided singles. This one has at least three dif sleeves, all numbered out of 200.

Knotts - one-sided single

King Louie the 69th & the Harahan Crack Combo “Jailbait” c/w “Little Girl” (1992)
It’s pretty remarkable that this 45 came out 18 years ago. Louie’s still at it, of course, prolific and full of hits. The Harahan Crack Combo was one of his earlier projects, and on this single they have a skuzzy ballad with a Fifties rocknroll vibe, piano and all. I believe the story is that 200 were pressed by the band to be released on their Viscosity Breakdown Records. The song titles were written on the labels and the record was housed in a green sleeve. At some point, the remainder of the press (presumably more than half since these pop up far more often) was sold to Goner Records. A yellow sleeve with a similar jailbait aesthetic was thrown together, a Goner catalog number was assigned, labels were stamped with the Goner name (or left blank) and the 45 was given a new life. There have been rumors of a repress, so let’s hope for one more go ‘round soon.

King Louie the 69th & the Harahan Crack Combo - Jailbait
King Louie the 69th & the Harahan Crack Combo - Jailbait - label variations

Reatards “Get Out of Our Way” (Blahll! 1998)
This needs no introduction, obviously. The second Reatards 7” was released on the overlooked Jackson, MS, label Blahll! Records, which had a handful of releases, all very good. This one disappeared quickly and has always been tough to find. A couple of years later, Contaminated helped out by doing a small repress of 100 copies (since the vinyl is identical and the original batch seemed so elusive, I wonder if this was actually a repress or newly discovered copies from the original batch?). Contaminated had a little fun with the sleeves and there are slight variations among them. A crude reproduction of the original artwork (labeled “repress” on the back) glued into a pocket sleeve; some xerox photos taped onto the white sleeve for a pseudo-printed inner look. Another has an entirely different sleeve with a live shot of Jay; I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of these with a red-ink “blood splatter” as well. Another sleeve, the “Bummer Bitch” version, was apparently a proposed and rejected design back in the day. The label has sold a couple of copies of the record on eBay, which have included a reproduction of this design, but as far as I know it was never actually produced or sold with copies of the record.

Reatards - Get Out of Our Way - Blahll! press
Reatards - Get Out of Our Way - Contaminated press

Reatards “Your So Lewd” (Empty 1999)
“Your So Lewd” followed up the Blahll! single and may well be the Reatards’ finest recorded moment. Some funny stuff going on with their label led to an amusing sleeve variation. Along the way, a once united Empty Records had a split between co-owners, each operating independently in their countries (USA and Germany) as Empty Records. Around the time of this release, the German Empty won a court case that granted them use of the label’s logo and name (or some such outcome). What’s important for this story is that the victor ended up with a box of Empty USA releases which were then fitted with modified sleeves as the “bootleg series.” These copies also have a small skull and crossbones sticker on the labels covering the US label’s catalog number, which I always thought was a nice touch.

Reatards - Your So Lewd - front Reatards - Your So Lewd - bootleg label
Reatards - Your So Lewd - backs

Fags “My Boyfriend is a Janitor” EP (Westside 1996)
Michigan! I’ve got a soft spot for this noisy teen garage hardcore record. It does seem like there was an especially great scene of angry teens making music in the area, no? Two sleeves, and I’ve got no clue what the story is with either, but I recommend you get them both.

Fags - My Boyfriend Is A Janitor

Epileptix “Self Hate” EP (Rebel Rumble Fish 1997)
Like the Fags, Epileptix were from the suburbs of Detroit. They released a handful of records fueled by anger at posers and themselves, and inspired by Killed By Death compilations (this was the beginning of the second [?] wave of KBD’s influence on bands and it was rarely done better than here). 50 copies of the record had full color Xerox copies; the rest were split between black & white copies on yellow or white paper (with the album title colored in with red marker). You probably know already that they were fronted by a young Timmy V, who’d go on to Clone Defects, Human Eye, and others.

Epileptix - Self Hate - color front Epileptix - Self Hate - color back
Epileptix - Self Hate - b&w variants

Distractors “Shithouse Crazy” EP (Cheap Date 1998)
I keep trying to push the Distractors on y’all and no one seems to care. My love knows no bounds, so I’ll keep going. Their “Shithouse Crazy” EP on SF’s Cheap Date records had 50 copies with an inverted black & white color scheme on the sleeve. These were sold via mailorder and given to folks who might care. Don’t you care?

Bonus material: Label-head RW also notes, “Even MORE fascinatingly, there is a variation on my repress of the debut 45 as well. I pressed 300 of those, the first 200 of which were one-sided paste-on sleeves, reproducing just the band shot of the original art. I got lazy after selling all of those, so the last 100 copies are just a xerox of the original (also xerox) artwork, both sides.”

Distractors - Shithouse Crazy

And that concludes this wild ride. Still plenty more sleeves out there (a couple variations of the Baseball Furies’ “Greatest Rock-n-roll Record Ever!” not to mention the Rat City Records test press sleeves or the three versions of Fall-Outs “This is Mine” or Life’s Blood “Lord Jesus” sleeve or...) but this column has dedicated enough inches to the topic. Many thanks to JR, AA, RR, RW, and anyone else who had a hand in helping me piece together this info or finding records for my collection.

When I’m not procrastinating doing stuff for Terminal-Boredom, I’m probably putting off updates to the following sites: No Stages, Track The Nubees, Sex Bomb, and Frat Cars.

To catch up on past Cheap Rewards go here.

Get in touch:
Dave Hyde
PO Box 301
Brewster, NY 10509
E-mail: cheaprewards-at-gmail.com