I’ve always had a soft spot for the self-titled Vigil record, which I first heard via Hi-Fi Hillary. The album has made the blog circuits before, and is notorious for being the first rock album to have been recorded and mixed digitally. It was released on Chrysalis records in 1987, and while a vinyl pressing of the LP and the I Am Waiting 12” can be easily found for a few bucks (I have bought/passed out several copies among friends and DJs in the scene), the CD is much more scarce, fetching between $40-60 bucks whenever it pops up. The album is a hybrid of catchy new wave hooks and post-punk guitars, a bit of grit beneath the gloss. I’ve always dug it.
However, before Vigil there was Here Today, who formed in Baltimore in 1983 (see also The Mission, Immortal, and The Unknown for more flagship acts of Baltimore’s fertile post-punk scene). They recorded just one 3-track 12” in 1983, before courting major label interest from CBS. Without swapping band members, they changed their name to Vigil and began work on their debut record in 1984. However, the A&R rep who signed the band departed CBS, and the band agreed to a buyout in order to sign with Chrysalis records. This entire process took three years, and the band were soon dropped after contributing a song to the Nightmare on Elm Street 4 soundtrack, but the title track of this 12” survived the test of time, with a re-recorded version appearing on the Vigil LP. The Here Today version of the track is leaner, meaner, and darker, and the two b-sides are exclusive to this release. While ‘Whistle’ is still the standout, the other tracks are enjoyable. ”In the Maze” is a slow, bass driven dirge that picks up mid-way through, while “Del Centro 86/99″ is a futuristic themed track that sounds like a hybrid of Devo and Bauhaus’ more spastic tracks (“Kamikaze Dive”).
Meanwhile, Vigil recorded a second album after leaving Chrysalis, which was self-released on cassette in the late 1980s. There are plans to reissue the first Vigil album in 2014, so perhaps the second album and other assorted rarities will see the light of day. You can find Vigil here on Facebook for any future updates.
Here Today- Whistle In the Yard 12”
1. Whistle In the Yard
2. Del Centro 86/89
3. In the Maze
Jo Connor has also uploaded a bunch of live Vigil clips from 1986. Click here to check out his youtube page. I also remember seeing an official video for the re-recorded version of “Whistle in the Yard,” but it must have been removed. I’ll link it here if I ever come across it again!