Sometimes People Forget
by David Chiu
Unless you are really hardcore into Eighties alternative rock, Translator may not ring some bells. That is the period from 1979 to 1986 which this San Francisco group emerged from – they’re kind of like the missing link between the punk/post-punk sound of Television and Jonathan Richman/Modern Lovers, and the jangly roots-rock of early R.E.M. It’s a real shame that Translator never had the chance to become popular (with the song “Everywhere I’m Not” the closest they’ll ever get to a possible accessible hit) – because their music is really good—it’s bare-bones, heartfelt passionate rock and roll. Fortunately, the quartet of Steve Barton, Bob Darlington, Larry Dekker and Dave Scheff reunited in recent years to record and perform live once again. Hopefully this latest set Sometimes People Forget will rekindle interest in Translator. It’s a compilation album of demo recordings – a majority of them previously unreleased – that taken at face value could be a studio album in own right because the performances sound nice and tight. Of course, the delightful “Everywhere I’m Not” is featured on the set, but there are some really full-throttled rockers and introspective material on this 22-track set: “Get Out” is a scathing political song, urging America to leave El Salvador (ironic how history repeat itself in these times); the hard rocking “Eraser” could have been something akin to Richard Hell and Voidoids; and “Inside My Mind” is such a pretty and reflective track with its Beatlesque melodies and vocal harmonies; and the catchy “I”ll Be Your Summer could have been a contender for airplay alongside “Everywhere I’m Not.” Sometimes People Forget is a wonderful introduction for people to get to know the band better and to delve into the studio albums. If Translator’s had emerged today, it certainly would fit into today’s indie rock landscape. It’s a reminder of how great underground American alternative rock was — even if MTV and commercial radio pretty much ignored it, which is frankly their loss.