When you think of alternative-rock music from the ’80s, you don’t necessarily think of bands like The Cucumbers. They weren’t dark and mysterious. They were fun and funky. It almost seemed like all the other alt-rock bands of that time were taking their musical cues from R.E.M. and the Velvet Underground, but The Cucumbers didn’t get the memo, and were looking more to The B-52’s.
Still, they were widely regarded as one of the best Hoboken bands of the era, and got signed to Profile Records — not a major label, but a big-time indie that was most famous for releasing groundbreaking Run-DMC albums. They toured nationally, and even appeared on MTV’s “120 Minutes” (see clip below).
Before Profile, though, they were on another label, the Jersey-based Fake Doom, and they have just released remastered, digital versions of their recordings of that era as an album titled The Fake Doom Years (1983-1986). It includes their 1983 EP The Cucumbers and 1985 album Who Betrays Me … And Other Happier Songs, plus their 1986 single “All Shook Up” (an offbeat cover of the Elvis Presley hit) and two previously unreleased tracks. For information, visit thecucumbers.net or cdbaby.com.
The band’s Fake Doom years preceded the CD era, so these recordings were previously released only on vinyl. “Ever off the trend, instead of releasing new music on vinyl, we are making old vinyl-only releases available in the digital format,” said frontwoman Deena Shoshkes in a press release.
The Cucumbers — singer-guitarists Shoshkes and Jon Fried, bassist John Williams and drummer Yuergen Renner — will reunite for one night only, for an 8 p.m. May 13 concert at Rent Party concert series at The Woodland in Maplewood. Bern & the Brights and The Thousand Pities will also perform; visit rentpartylive.com.
The Cucumbers’ deal with Profile didn’t last past the ’80s, but the band continued to record and perform live sporadically into the ’90s and early 2000s. Shoshkes and Fried, who are married and now live in Millburn, still sometimes perform as a duo, using the Cucumbers name. Shoshkes has also released music under her own name and with Deena & the Laughing Boys and the children’s rock band Over the Moon, and co-hosts the Saturday Afternoon Song Swap series, and Fried writes fiction (visit jonfried.net for information about that).