It can be said that wherever the good spaceship the Velvet Underground touched down, weird bands started to spring out of the soil. The Velvets appeared in the Cleveland, OH, area no less than 14 times between 1968 and 1971, and by 1973, Cleveland's Mirrors were playing the local high-school dance and saloon circuit, with a sound reminiscent of the Velvets, but also throwing in a dash of humor, some hard-rocking post-psychedelic grooves, a nod to the progressive strain current at the time, and even some avant-garde musical experimentation.
Mirrors (without a "The") was founded by Jamie Klimek, a Cleveland-based songwriter and singer who had attended every one of the Velvets' Cleveland shows and is said to have recorded them from the audience. Reports vary as to when the band got started; some set the date as early as 1971, but Klimek states that it wasn't until April of 1973. The basic lineup consisted of guitarists Klimek and Jim Crook, bassist Craig Bell, and drummer Mike Weldon. In the spring of 1974 Bell went off to the military, and initially was replaced on bass with Paul Marotta, who had just moved up from Columbus. Marotta was recruited into Mirrors after setting up a remote recording session for them which, for various reasons, never got rolling. But Marotta is by nature a keyboard player, and the call went out to Jim Jones to take the bass chair in Mirrors. Although Bell rejoined briefly upon his return from the military, he soon drifted off to Mirrors' nemesis, Rocket from the Tombs, at which point Jones came back on bass until Mirrors played their last date at Case Western Reserve University on September 20, 1975. At their gigs, mostly held in bars, on college campuses, and at the occasional county fair, Mirrors alternated a healthy serving of originals (mostly written by Klimek) mixed in with cover songs by the likes of the Velvet Underground, the Kinks, the Troggs, and even the song "Baby's on Fire" by Brian Eno.
Given the poor state of documentation among freaked-out American bands of the post-1972 period, it is difficult to identify stylistic contemporaries that Mirrors may have had, although hypothetically they could've existed in the dozens if not the hundreds of groups. About the closest contemporary is Boston's the Modern Lovers, already on the brink of disbanding when Mirrors formed in April of 1973. But Mirrors were a completely different animal from their Boston-based cousins, with a much uglier and confrontational sound and style. The group might well have wound up in the atomic dustbin of post-psychedelic history were it not for their sole contemporary release, a too hot to handle 7" 45 on the Hearthan label, "Shirley" b/w "She Smiled Wild," recorded and issued in 1975. While the record garnered little attention at the time, the sheer sonic anarchy of "She Smiled Wild" was ultimately recognized as rather ahead of its time, and original copies of the record became regarded as precious and expensive collector's items.
In 2001 Mirrors prepared the comprehensive survey of their 1970s recordings on CD, Hands in My Pockets, issued by the U.K.-based Overground Records label. A reconfigured Mirrors recorded a second album's worth of material, entitled Another Nail in the Coffin, between 1986 and 1988 for the Resonance label in the Netherlands. Only a few copies of the recording were shipped before Resonance went under in 1989, but ROIR is slated to re-release this unnecessarily ultra-obscure recording in the summer of 2004. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis