Certain General is an American post-punk band formed in 1980 by Parker Dulany, Phil Gammage, Marcy Saddy, and Russell Berke. By 1981 and 1982 the band was performing in East Coast venues and colleges from Canada to Texas. Early shows found them sharing the stage with fellow New York and Boston bands such as DNA, Bush Tetras, Liquid Liquid, Mission of Burma, Raybeats, and Swans. Their prominence grew as their presence was increasingly felt within the downtown scene and the band found themselves at various times serving as the house band at both CBGBs and Danceteria, venues that are both now gone, but nonetheless remain legendary for the pivotal role they played in the club scene at the time. Certain General were almost synonymous with that scene, becoming ubiquitous hosts at such other venues as the Mudd Club, the Peppermint Lounge, The Rat, 9:30 Club, and downtown's Hoboken, NJ annex, Maxwell's. They would remain staples of this scene for several years.
In 1982, the group signed with the New York independent record label Labor Records and recorded their debut, 'Holiday of Love'. The five-song EP was produced by Peter Holsapple of the The dB's and mixed by Michael Gira of fellow Labor Records label mates Swans. In 1983, original bassist Berke would depart to be replaced by roadie and all-around funster, Joe Lupo, and the band would begin work on recording their first proper album. During this time, Certain General would catch the attention of British music journalist Kris Needs, who championed the band and later served as their host during their first UK visit. At the suggestion of Needs, 'Far Away in America' (1984) was conceived as a collaboration of sorts and the LP was shared with another New York band, friends and musical colleagues Band of Outsiders. Independently released on SourMash Records in April 1984, it featured two live and two studio recordings by each band. The two groups furthered the co-op approach and toured together in the spring and summer of 1984 in both the United States and the United Kingdom to promote the record. Highlights of the UK dates included shows at Alice in Wonderland (where in his typical exuberance Dulany smashed his hand through the asbestos ceiling) and the Batcave in London, as well as the Hacienda (with James) in Manchester. The album, coupled with their New York and London performances, would also draw the attention of Chris Parry and his London-based Fiction Publishing. This coincided with a change in management, when the band signed on with Ruth Polsky (the booking agent for New York clubs Hurrah and Danceteria) and her agency, Blind Dates Management. They also began work with the new French record label L'Invitation au Suicide (I.A.S. Records) and made plans to license a newly recorded second LP to the label.
The band leveraged the Parry relationship and agreed to appear in support of The Cure, who were already signed to Fiction, at New York's Beacon Theater on November 14, an appearance that would be a 1984 highlight. Fans of both bands would maintain that since there was some common ground in the respective sounds of the two bands at that time, the pairing certainly made sense from a musical standpoint. However, their respective positions in the musical pantheon of the day was another issue indeed. Certain General's innate hunger to perform and desire to move forward would serve them well in the context, which became something of a pattern for the band. Rising to the opportunity presented by the Beacon gig, by all accounts the band certainly delivered. Self-financed from earnings saved from performances at New York's Danceteria, 'November's Heat' was released in France in November 1984 by I.A.S. Records.
Although the next two years saw the band tour and make television appearances in France several times, within the United States, the group's profile remained primarily underground as they continued to perform mainly on the East Coast. To a large degree this was due to internal differences as to where they should appear: tours on the West Coast and in the South failed to materialize not because the opportunities did not present themselves, but rather, because internal strife prevented follow through. However, their reach on the eastern seaboard can be neither ignored nor discounted and their cultural influence was by no means limited to New York. Whether it was due to one of their regular jaunts at the Paradise Club in Boston or City Gardens in Trenton, with a stop at the East Side Club in Philly on their way to 688 in Atlanta, aside from being merely heard in some of the top clubs of the time, they made their presence known and their impact felt.
The bands with whom Certain General appeared in the early- and mid-eighties is a veritable list of many of the top independent rock bands of the era: Green on Red, Rain Parade, Mission of Burma, Gun Club, Oingo Boingo, New Order, Rank and File, The Rezillos, The Bongos, The Nails, Gang of Four, R.E.M., The Sisters of Mercy, Way of the West, Medium Medium, and Raybeats. In the context of playing as the opener, Certain General built a much-deserved reputation for surpassing those they were supporting. While successful in France, 'November's Heat' was not released in the United States until 2000, rather odd considering that the band was covered widely, especially by the much-respected UK music press.
1985 saw more personnel changes as Sprague Hollander replaced original guitarist Phil Gammage. In France, I.A.S. Records released the band's next recording project prior to its completion, in fear that they would lose the group to a major label. This "bootleg" would become the infamous 'These Are the Days' and would still somehow win great praise from the press despite the glaring inconsistencies of an unfinished work. In response to the copyright infringement of the record by I.A.S., Ruth Polsky released a finished single by the band ('Will You / Bad Way') on her own New York-based label, S.U.S.S. Records. This success was overshadowed by tragedy when Ruth was killed in a horrific car accident that left her pinned beneath a yellow cab in the doorway of The Limelight club, a converted church in New York, as the band performed there in September 1986. The band would not learn of Polsky's death until the following morning. After a memorial show for Polsky with New Order and Karen Finley at the Roxy in New York and the second of two tours with New Order, Certain General slowly retreated to Paris to convalesce and reorganize.
After again touring France in 1987, Certain General signed to the prestigious French label, Barclay Records (Jacques Brel, Noir Desir) and recorded 'Cabin Fever'. The LP included their best selling single to date, "I Lose Myself". Based on the success of 'Cabin Fever' and the attention it garnered in French press, the group continued to tour and perform in France. In 1990, Barclay Records issued the album 'Jacklighter', produced by Fred Maher, Gavin Mackillop, and Lloyd Cole. It featured Lloyd and fellow Commotion Blair Cowen on the single "Baby Are You Rich?". The single fared well, but the group was dropped from Barclay in 1992. Following the release of 'Jacklighter' the band entered a period of hiatus until the late nineties while its various members pursued other projects.
In 1999, original guitarist Gammage rejoined the band and the group's original line-up re-united to record 'Signals from the Source' in the CBGB's basement studio for Hilly Kristal's CBGB Records. Genya Ravan (The Dead Boys) produced the record. 'These Are the Days' was officially released on France's Fantastica Label and the group played a nationwide tour of France, co-headlining with fellow New Yorkers The Fleshtones. In 2000, Fantastica released the Arnaud Dieterlen-produced 'Closer to the Sun', which was recorded in Paris during the 1999 tour.
On May 21, 2010, Certain General released their first collection of new material since 'Closer to the Sun', released in 2000. The new 13-song CD, entitled 'Stolen Car', is composed of 12 new songs written by the band plus a remake of their 1982 recording “Hello My God”. Featuring original band members Parker Dulany (lead vocals, bass) and Phil Gammage (guitar) along with longtime drummer Kevin Tooley, 'Stolen Car' continues the band's tendency toward expansive and exploratory rock sounds. Produced by Tooley at his Concept Studios in New York, 'Stolen Car' includes contributions from sax session musician Robert Aaron, a veteran of recordings by David Bowie, James White, and Al Jarreau, among many others. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA]