REVIEWED: Billboard
Those Were Different Times

"Indies Provide Crucial Documentation of Music Past"

Just a few years after the Goons adapted their extremist '60s roots to their own style, some groups in Cleveland adopted many of the same sources to their ends. The best known was Pere Ubu; the forgotten legacy of three of Ubu's contemporaries - Mirrors, the Electric Eels and the Styrenes - has been dug up and lavishly packaged on a new set, "Those Were Different Times," on St. Louis' Scat Records.

While the three bands shared members in their oft-rotating lineups, all espoused wildly differing sounds. mirrors, fronted by guitarist Jamie Klimek, favored a spare, velvet Underground-derived style. The Styrenes, which included Klimek and keyboardist Paul Moratta, were a more arty tuneful unit. And the deliberately - nay, extravagantly - offensive Electric Eels were art- terror incarnate;  the band was known to play a gas powered lawnmower onstage, while de facto leader John Morton sometimes performed with large wrenches duct-taped to his clothing.

"Those Were Different Times" - which is being issued as a limited set of three 10-inch LPs or a single CD, with an opulent photo book bound with bolts - collects vintage 1973 - 76 studio and live recordings by all three acts. For fans of '70s Cleveland experimentalism, which has been documented in scattershot fashion over the last few years, the collection is a necessary concordance to the Eels and Styrenes compilations released in 1991 by Homestead Records, and those intrigued by the lone Mirror's track on last year's Pere Ubu boxed set will find plenty to sink their teeth into.

Chris Morris July 5, 1997

Those Were Different Times

It's a little hard to realize just how important '70s underground bands like the Mirrors, the Electric Eels and the Styrenes really were to today's underground music scene. It sounds like a typically adventurous title for a retrospective, but Those Were Different Times indeed: In the years 1973-1976, the period from which these previously-unreleased recordings date, there was no industry pipeline, no indie label farm teams, no tailor-made marketing plans, no savvy promoters or hustling, power-brokering lawyers. Coming up in the same Cleveland underground scene that spawned the broadly-appreciated Pere Ubu, these three band shared members and made their own little scene.  In literal endorsement of the popular alternative rock truisms, almost all of them were present when the Velvet underground played La Cave. There's a little section at the end of the liner notes called "What Happened After 1976" that details what the future held for each major player in these three bands. What they should have included was, "punk rock happened, alternative happened, indie rock happened grunge happened, etc.," because really, everything that's happened since owes some kind of debt to this music. 

James Lien August 18,1997 Vol 51 No. 7 Issue 534

REVIEWED: Rolling Stone on the edge
Those Were Different Times

RAW POWER: If you thought the '96 PereUbu box set was heavy '70s-Ohio-punk homework, brace yourself for Those Were Different Times (Scat, CD or triple 10 inch set), 29 newly excavated tracks by MIRRORS, the ELECTRIC EELS and the STYRENES, an incestuous troika of pre-Ubu terrorists who were post-punk before punk even happened. The pneumatic assault of Mirrors and the Eels bears the long, deep mark of the Velvet Underground and shows the length to which Clevelanders went to make the VU's noise their own.

David Fricke June 26,1997

REVIEWED: Entertainment Weekly
Those Were Different Times

These 29 tracks from three defunct Cleveland bands document a scene that was so far underground few suspected its existence. Recorded at a time (1972 - 76) when taking cues from the Velvet Underground earned derision instead of status points, these songs presage punk, new wave, and lo-fi with dead on accuracy. Recommended to those who love the sound of bombed-out bohemians at play B+

TS July 18, 1997
REVIEWED: the village VOICE
Those Were Different Times

Cleveland Rocks Northern Ohio's Never-Ending Punk Story

The Electric Eels hardly ever played gigs (only six in their life-span), but on June 15, 1973, they taped a rehearsal - now available on Those Were Different Times a collection of stage/studio/cellar outtakes by the Eels and two related '70's Cleveland bands, the Mirrors and Styrenes - including a song that goes "You crummy fags / I'd blow your head off for a dollar." I doubt the lyrics are meant to be taken at face value, given that the all-male Eels were known for slow-dancing together at blue-collar bars until the natives got restless. And also given that the most blatant common denominator uniting northern Ohio's lisping and whining, cattily audacious underground for the going-on-25 years since has been its origins in early '70s glam-rock fagdom............................... Not as inept as legend pretends, the Eels on Different Times (which overlaps 1991's God Says Fuck You retrospective not one iota) just plain wreck the place, spastic and snotty and miraculously tuneful while contents dislodge during shipment. Their infamous and allegedly ironic hate-language-and-response dirge "Spin Age Blasters" - "I see a nigger!" "He sees a nigger!" "Out in the audience I see a nigger!" - inspired, Eel/Mirror/Styrene Paul Marotta has insisted, by "racist bullshit literature" at the American Nazi Party Headquarters in Cleveland, is absolute antisocial provocation as a life force - whether you approve or not.

Chuck Eddy July 8, 1997