A somewhat mysterious but eminently worthwhile quartet from Indianapolis, IN, Anonymous was active in the mid- to late '70s but sounded like they came from a decade earlier. The group's acknowledged antecedents were the Beatles and the Byrds, but from such familiar trappings, Anonymous created a richly textured version of classic psychedelia that both adheres to and ignores the common precepts of the genre. The mellow, wide-ranging but never aimless results sound like a cross between a far more structured version of Quicksilver Messenger Service and an American equivalent of the fluid, jazz-tinged progressive rock of Curved Air.
Anonymous' roots were in the '60s garage scene. Singer/guitarist Ron Matelic and drummer Jon Medvescek had played in the Indianapolis psych-poppers Sir Winston and the Commons (whose two singles were reissued on a vinyl EP by Sundazed in 1999) in the mid-'60s. Matelic and Medvescek continued playing together after that band broke up, eventually adding Marsha Rollings on vocals and Glenn Weaver on bass and second guitar. At first, the quartet simply jammed at their homes on Sunday afternoons, but when Matelic was offered a recording contract by the archly named Milwaukee indie A Major Label in 1976, he drafted his friends into rehearsals, eventually recording the album Inside the Shadow under the randomly chosen name Anonymous over the course of two weekends.
Anonymous was originally considered simply a studio project by its principals, but some months after the release of Inside the Shadow, Matelic and Medvescek decided to begin rehearsals for live dates. Justin Garriot joined the band as a second guitarist at this point, and Greg Reynolds replaced Weaver on bass. Although the group initially continued under the name Anonymous, when Garriot and Rollings left the band, the remaining trio changed their name to J. Rider after a song on Inside the Shadow.
J. Rider played live around the Indianapolis area for a couple of years before going into the studio for what Matelic initially considered a demo session to possibly spur major-label attention. The results were eventually released by the same label who had put out Inside the Shadow under the title No Longer Anonymous.
Although J. Rider split after the 1979 release of No Longer Anonymous, the two albums' popularity slowly grew by word of mouth in the worldwide psychedelic underground. A Major Label reissued Inside the Shadow in 1981 as a self-titled record with a garishly colored sleeve drawing of an underwear-clad woman on a striped couch, apparently to make it look like a new wave album. Both Inside the Shadow and No Longer Anonymous were bootlegged several times before the Indianapolis reissue label Aether Records released both albums on a single CD, with liner notes by Matelic, in 2001. ~ Stewart Mason