Finally Seeing the Reflection: Mirrors

Mirrors - Cleveland's pre-punk

I’ve always heard that writers should write what they know about. If I followed that rule, I would never write. Up until a few weeks ago I had heard of Cleveland band Mirrors, but I don’t think I had ever heard them. That’s probably pretty lame considering I grew up just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Granted, the band’s heyday, if you could call it that, was from 1971 to 1976. I was alive, but had not yet begun to form lasting memories, and it was way before the start my musical obsession years. Sure, I was exposed to a lot of what was happening in Cleveland. We would get the Plain Dealer newspaper, could pick up all the Cleveland radio and television stations and we’d make the drive up for various things like visiting relatives, the zoo, the lake, or some random sporting event. When I got the point where I could actually tune a radio, it was usually at 100.7, WMMS. WMMS played what today would be considered classic rock, but in their early days they went a bit deeper and didn’t just play the ‘hits’. It was considered the ‘cool’ radio station back then, but you could listen all day and you would never hear any of the pre-punk bands that Cleveland seem to produce like steel back in the 70’s. If the local radio station didn’t recognize the uncut diamonds in its own backyard, it’s not too surprising then that the city’s rich history of bands that pushed the musical envelope in the mid to late 70’s, never seemed to get much recognition anywhere else either. The City was littered with bands like Rocket from the Tombs, Dead Boys, Pere Ubu, Electric Eels, Pagans and Mirrors. Some of these bands never even made it into a recording studio (Rocket from the Tombs) while others only ever put out a few singles like Electric Eels and Mirrors.Of course Pere Ubu did gain some fame, but little fortune and the Dead Boys only really gained infamy.  Unfortunately,  most of these bands from that time period are relegated to the dusty stacks of record collectors and music critics.

I’m not about to attempt to give you a history of the Cleveland pre-punk scene, you can read Rock ‘n Roll and the Cleveland Connection by Deanna Adams for that. What I will do is tell you that for the first time ever in one place and on vinyl are nearly all of Mirror’s recordings from the 70’s, including the A and B side (Shirley b/w She Smiled Wild) to their first single put on Dave Thomas’ (Pere Ubu) Hearthen label. Violet Times has gotten all of the recordings from 74-75 remastered and pressed to vinyl in a limited run of 700 copies.  A few years back ROIR put out a compilation of Mirrors songs called Another Nail in the Coffin, but these were re-recordings of the songs by the 80’s incarnation of the band. There’s an old anecdote about the Velvet Underground selling a very small number of their debut record back in 1967, but everyone that bought a copy was inspired to start a band. Mirrors like their contemporaries the Modern Lovers over in Boston definitely fall into that category. Apparenlty the band would include in their live set a song called Sweet Sister Ray described by Mirrors front man Jamie Klimek as a 40 minute noise jam, that was intended to be the sequel to the VU’s Sister Ray. The songs on this reissue display a certain VU quality, and although they were recorded over 30 years ago,  sound like they could have been made today. Yeah, I know you hear people say that kind of stuff all the time, but the way the band probably recorded the songs adhere to the lo-fi aesthetics of so many bands putting records out on labels like Hozac, Siltbreeze, Woodsist or Captured Tracks today. Time may have passed Mirrors by, but thanks to Violet Times putting out Something That Would Never Do, we can finally catch up with them.

mp3: Mirrors – Shirley

mp3: Mirrors – She Smiled Wild

Both songs are from Something That Would Never Do, you can buy it here.


  1. Ben · June 11, 2009

    It was Brian Eno who said that about everyone who bought the VU album formed a band. Sterling Morrison said (and I’m going to paraphrase) that if ‘the VU had an heir then it was the Modern Lovers’.

  2. Toby · June 11, 2009

    Thanks Ben, for the life of me I couldn’t remember who said that about the VU.

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