Material Issue Biography

Belonging to the pop rock tradition of Tom Petty and Big Star, Material Issue arrived in the mid-80s from Chicago, Illinois, USA, to great critical fanfare. The band comprised songwriter Jim Ellison (James Walter Ellison, 18 April 1964, USA, d. 20 June 1996, Chicago, Illinois, USA; vocals/guitar, previously a member of fellow Chicago band Green), Fred Ansani (bass/vocals) and Michael Zeleneko (drums). Material Issue was a six-track mini-album, co-produced by Jeff Murphy of the Shoes. The promise was confirmed with the arrival of their first full-length album, released by Mercury Records, which illustrated Ellison’s flair for power pop composition; the songs recalled a golden age of US pop, with a focus on guys and girls that was both heartfelt and innocent. Further albums confirmed Ellison’s talent but failed to sell, and the band’s career ended in tragedy when he committed suicide in June 1996. The demos for Material Issue’s fourth album were released the following year, in a package that also featured the band’s eponymous debut.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.