Hugo Largo
January 13, 2022 1:39 PM   Subscribe

One of the most atmospheric bands of the late 1980s, Hugo Largo had a sound anchored by two bass guitars embellished with violin and the incredible voice of Mimi Goese. It was also the most direct link between Michael Stipe and Brian Eno (until Stephen Colbert, anyway).
posted by rikschell (19 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Great post! I was supposed to make a Hugo Largo episode of my latest show, but Mimi demurred and I never quite closed the loop with Tim. That being said, Michael Stipe made a nice mention of them in his episode. (We'll be putting up Hugo Largo's 1980s KCRW live sessions pretty soon.)
posted by mykescipark at 2:07 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this! I love discovering music like this. Got a cd of Mettle coming now. Oddly enough some of it sounds like something Adrian Belew would have done on a solo album. Hauntingly beautiful.
posted by cybrcamper at 2:26 PM on January 13

I bought an LP in 1990 at a used record store in Bowling Green Ohio that was clips from Mettle with Brian Eno blathering on about how much he liked them. I assembled a bunch of his comments into a really great annoying incoming message for my dorm room answering machine. "It's hard, and tough, and thrilling, it's a sort of picture of street-level harshness, but exciting. It makes you dance. That's a new feeling."
posted by rikschell at 2:32 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Very kind to my psyche, with unexpected drifts.
posted by Oyéah at 3:08 PM on January 13

rikschell, this is amazing. Thanks for posting this. Somehow this band escaped my notice.

(I also have a very specific memory of visiting a used record store in Bowling Green, albeit 15 years later than yours.)
posted by mean square error at 3:20 PM on January 13

Thanks for posting this. I listened to the Drum EP to death but for some reason never followed up on them.
posted by gamera at 3:27 PM on January 13

Second Skin is one of the greatest songs—and greatest performances—of all time. I discovered it when I was fairly young and, for a long time, it hit an emotional nerve for me that nothing else came close to. One of those weird experiences of glimpsing an important part of yourself through a weird and narrow porthole.
posted by rorgy at 3:54 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I had completely forgotten about them. Such a great band!
posted by misterpatrick at 3:58 PM on January 13

Great band, thanks for the post. We used to listen to, uh whatever record had "Grow Wild" on it everyday, in my share house in 1989 or so.

Trivia: one of the band members, I read, became an A&R guy, and signed Hootie and The Blowfish.
posted by thelonius at 5:17 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Just when I thought today wouldn't hold any surprises -- here's Hugo Largo on MF. Wow. Well done, rikschell! Pretty sure I still have hearing loss from repeat LOUD listens of Grow Wild, Second Skin and Fancy. Friend back in the day was at that '87 Hoboken show and was blown away. I already had the Drum CD and was reproached for it; only indie industry people were supposed to know about them, apparently.

Here's some more history on the band from Louderthanwar.

Mimi Goese has a solo album, Soak. She also did a tremendous cover of I Put a Spell on You.
posted by vers at 6:31 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I've never had indie cred before (except my roommate owned Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer before GBV got big). Finally my obsessive collecting from 1988-1993 of REM rarities and REM adjacent projects pays off!
posted by rikschell at 7:02 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

I somehow taped off the TV a show they did at the ICA in London - some of it's on YouTube in bits ( Scream Tall, Turtle Song), rushed out to buy the album the next day, as was the fashion in those days, and went back out a few days later to buy it on CD, as I had a very strong sense that I'd play it a lot and wanted it on a more resilient medium. And lo it came to pass. Drum has no drums on it. Mettle is definitely not metal.

It was around the time I started buying new music again (I'd run away from 80s jangle and clang and taken refuge in Steely Dan and old progressive rock), and is tangled in my head with The Trinity Sessions by Cowboy Junkies and the first Sugarcubes album, just before Three Feet High and Rising, and Dolittle.

I'm surprised they're not better known - I'd rank it alongside Colossal Youth by Young Marble Giants.

Also, two bass players, how often do you see that. Ornette Coleman had three when I saw him, but that's Ornette.
posted by Grangousier at 3:40 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]

I bought Mettle shortly after its release - on cassette - on the strength of a rave review (in Time Out magazine, if I'm not mistaken): 'that sounds amazing!', I thought, only to be crestfallen when I realised I'd spent some of my very limited funds on something I didn't like at all. For me, their name is indelibly linked to the folly of not trying before buying. I'm glad though that many do remember them fondly!
posted by misteraitch at 4:01 AM on January 14

I saw them in a tiny club in Connecticut in the late 80s. There were about 15 of us in the audience. It was sublime. This is one from my youth that I return to frequently when I need to feel good.
posted by archimago at 4:16 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]

two bass guitars embellished with violin

I know very well the condition of rock bar PAs and sound engineers in the late 80's Southeast, and I bet these folks have some bad war stories.
posted by thelonius at 7:44 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

Thank you for this. Very much aligns with my tastes/interests. Just picked up Mimi Goese's Soak on Bandcamp after hearing her cover of "Black Hole Sun."
posted by the sobsister at 7:56 AM on January 14

I recognize the name Hugo Largo because of Piero Scaruffi, a music critic from the 90s and 00s internet era whose tastes are fairly unique. All of his "top of the decade" album charts contain bands that a reasonably pop-music-literate person will find new to them... anyway, here's his top albums of the 80s, where this one ranks an 8/10 (and he hardly ranks anything above 7!). I think it was his Dream Pop list where I saw Hugo Largo.
posted by sylvanshine at 9:58 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]

Weird to have Hugo Largo pop up two times this week, after not hearing much about them for decades! Previous mention was this video featuring them and Robyn Hitchcock (interviewed separately, I'm afraid), posted in a Hitchcock Facebook group I belong to.
posted by carrienation at 8:42 AM on January 15

Kingston, NY-based band Shana Falana does a fantastic cover version of "Second Skin."
posted by General Zubon at 8:47 AM on January 21

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