The recordings of the San Francisco rock group SVT are set to be reissued on vinyl for the first time in the modern era. The band’s lineup included bassist Jack Casady, a 1996 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with Jefferson Airplane, and a founding member of Hot Tuna. Always Comes Back: The Authorized Recordings by SVT is released as a double-vinyl LP by Liberation Hall on June 3.
“The late 1970s and early 1980s were an explosive and exciting period for music and the San Francisco scene was no exception,” recalls Casady in the liner notes for Always Comes Back. “I had been playing constantly from 1965-’72 as Jefferson Airplane, continuing on as Hot Tuna through 1977. Hot Tuna took a bit of a break and SVT was born of this period.”
Originally gigging in 1978 as the Jack Casady Band, Casady alongside guitarist/vocalist Brian Marnell, keyboardist Nick Buck (also of Hot Tuna), and drummer Bill Gibson (Huey Lewis & the News) rebranded themselves as SVT the following year. The name came from Casady’s bass rig, the Ampeg Super Vaccum Tube. A self-released debut single, “New Year”/”Wanna See You Cry,” arrived on red vinyl in January 1979.
Additional studio time was booked to record more material. A demo cassette featuring the group’s “Heart of Stone” caught the attention of a pair of radio deejays on local station KSAN-FM. “When I was in college,” recalls Howie Klein, “I booked the Jefferson Airplane to play a concert at Stony Brook and got to know Jack way back then. Fast forward a dozen years or so and Chris Knab brought this cassette with the song ‘Heart of Stone’ to our late-night radio show. I remember that we played it three times in one night.”
It was during this period that SVT earned its reputation as a tight, urgent, and LOUD rock ‘n’ roll unit. In October 1979, “Heart of Stone”/”The Last Word” would become one of the first singles released by 415 Records, the label launched by Klein and Knab. “Heart of Stone” signaled the departure of Gibson and the arrival in 1980 of new drummer Paul Zahl (Yanks, Tuxedomoon, Roky Erickson).
With Zahl on board, SVT released the seven-song Extended Play EP on 415 Records and successfully toured both the west and east coasts and the UK. The following year’s No Regrets, the group’s debut album for short-lived label Mutiny Shadow International, featured eleven originals by Marnell and found SVT slimmed down to a power trio of Marnell, Casady and Zahl. In his review for All Music Guide, writer Richard Foss called No Regrets “an appealing blast of West Coast new wave, with good songs played with blistering intensity.” Despite the quality of the material, the group would split shortly after its release. Any hopes for a reunion were dashed in 1983 when Marnell died of long-term health complications.
Always Comes Back: The Authorized Recordings now compiles all the band’s original run of recordings in one place. The double-vinyl LP also includes a trio of previously unreleased recordings by the Jack Casady Band that were not included on last year’s CD release of Always Comes Back, including “Sex Attraction,” a live show favorite, and “Snow Gorilla,” an instrumental tour de force featuring Casady’s innovative melodic bass playing.
“SVT was a special place and time,” said Buck. “We came together quickly, we had camaraderie and a singular vision. We wanted to ROCK.”
SVT – Always Comes Back: The Authorized Recordings (Lib-5054)
FORMAT: Black double-vinyl LP
TRACKLIST: 1. Bleeding Hearts | 2. Waiting for You | 3. No Regrets (Marnell, Kobrofsky) | 4. Money Street | 5. Love Blind | 6. North Beach | 7. What I Don’t Like | 8. Secret | 9. Too Late | 10. You Don’t Rock| 11. Price of Sex | 12. I Can See (N. Buck) | 13. Red Blue Jeans (J. Rhodes, B. Davis) | 14. Always Come Back | 15. I Walk the Line (J. Cash)| 16. Modern Living (N. Buck) | 17. Down at the Beach | 18. New Year | 19. Wanna See You Cry | 20. Heart of Stone | 21. The Last Word | 22. Snow Gorilla (N. Buck) * | 23. Sex Attraction (N. Buck) * | 24. How Could You Ever *
All songs written by Brian Marnell except as noted
* Previously unreleased bonus track by the Jack Casady Band