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American Death Ray switched on its sleazy, punk-damaged R&B hum in Memphis, TN, around 1998, when ex-'68 Comeback kid Nicholas Ray assembled it out of spare parts and expats from around town. Keyboardist Brendan Lee Spengler had been in the Comeback and Compulsive Gamblers, while drummer Rich Cook also played in the Reatards. At this point the band also featured bassist Jon Acosta and saxophonist Suzy Hawkins. Welcome to the Strange and Erotic World of the American Death Ray appeared in August 2001; it was followed a year later by Smash Radio Hits (2nd LP). Both LPs were issued via Sympathy for the Record Industry. By 2003 ADR featured Ray on vocals and guitar, bassist Harlan T. Bobo, and drummer Shane Callaway. That lineup released the economically named A New Commotion, a Delicate Tension (And the Exquisite Corpse of Mr. Jimmy) on Memphis indie Misprint in autumn 2003.