Monday, July 16, 2012

Wolfie - Necessary Sailing tape (1997)

I may not have been the biggest Wolfie fan in the world, but during their existence it sure felt like it at times.  With only a handful of fellow fans (ok, make that only one fellow fan) in my neck of the woods, I would have craved social networking sites had they been operational at the turn of the millennium.  Not that I was totally starved for info on the quartet, merely I was a little lost in the wilderness, with my flashlight being their 1998 debut, Awful Mess Mystery.  Brandishing a healthy dollop of Weezer-crunch plus chirpy Casios and organs, Wolfie had their crush-inducing schtick all snuggled up in twee yet sassy subtext.  With the exception of drummer R.J. Porter, vocal duties were divied up between axe-wrangler Mike Downey, Amanda Lyons on keys, and Joe Ziemba handling bass.  It was the latter two of that arrangement who garnered most of the attention, as they were a couple throughout their tenure in Wolfie, ultimately marrying and divorcing in the '00s if I have my facts straight.  Awful Mess... was followed up by two more full lengths, 1999's Where's Wolfie, and Talk Dark Hill arriving two years later, amongst a handful of short-form releases and compilation appearances.  Unfortunately, I don't have a comprehensive Wolfie website to send you to, but the first two albums are still available through Parasol

Ironically, I found out about the 1997 Necessary Sailing cassette from a fairly comprehensive band website that has inexplicably been removed from the web.  The irony doubles as that website was introduced only around the era of the last Wolfie record, Tall Dark Hill, where I posthumously learned of this thirteen song cassette-only album that preceded all of the band's other releases.  The kicker?  It was limited to a startlingly meager 50 copies (or was it 75)?  The prospect of this scarce recording fascinated me to no end, and I very much wanted to add it to my collection.  The odds of fulfilling that ambition were pretty nil, thought to my good fortune, by the middle of the 'Dubya' era, Mike Downey had established a website, which featured no small amount of podcasts of his solo recordings (predominantly four-track stuff from what I recall)...and one featuring the entire Necessary Sailing tape.  I was finally able to lay ears on it, albeit in one long contiguous track.  My desire for an original copy never quite waned however, and when I added this particular title to a "want list" on the blog last December, who came through for me other than Mike himself, who informed me he had an extra copy and I would soon be the grateful and lucky recipient.

Judging by a quick Google query today, Mike's website has been shuttered, and with it all of the aforementioned podcasts.  Since this was such a holy-grail find, I wanted to share it en masse, despite it not being the most representative Wolfie recording (the most notable circumstance being the apparent absence of Amanda Lyons in the lineup at this particular juncture in their career).  This rip was taken from my original tape with all the tracks properly separated.  This nascent and modest reel of lo-fi goodness may pale in comparison to Wolfie's sturdier vinyl and CD releases that would soon come in it's wake, but it's a worthwhile listen for established customers.  Fans of early Eric's Trip and the like would equally be advised to jump aboard.  A big, big thanks to Mike for his generosity.  If you're reading this, I owe you one big time!

01. Noids
02. On Your Way
03. Suspension Catchs
04. Let's Say We Forgot About It
05. Life Saver Socks
06. On Cinder Blocks Looking In
07. Pinecar Derby
08. VFW
09. Looks Fine on the Ledge
10. A Dumb Life
11. Silent Autumn Parks
12. The Long Drive Back
13. Graph Chaser


burntoutsavannahs said...

hey thanks man. i totally forgot all about this band. they were one of my guilty pleasures back in the late nineties/early 2ooo's since i was one of those gravity/ebullition kids. i dig yr blog by the way duder.

spavid said...

Something tells me you weren't the only h/c kd with a weakness for Wolfie! Nothing to be ashamed of.

mike downey said...

Hi David,
Mike from Wolfie here. I was more than happy to send you the tape! I am a big fan of your blog and I knew you'd do justice in preserving it in digital format.

My website which you mentioned did in fact bite the dust, but I preserved it all at and the full Wolfie discog is at for anyone interested.


mike downey said...

oop, the wolfie discog i mentioned isn't quite complete. it is only up until I left the band. There was the Tall Dark Hill cd on March Records and a Monkees comp I remember....and maybe some other nuggets if you dig deep enough.

RJ said...

This tape is very rare indeed! I was in the band and seemed to have lost my copy somewhere along the way. Thank you for the nice post.

spavid said...

Thanks for commenting Mike, RJ! I still have your email addy Mike. Meant to write you to alert you about this. I appreciate the updated link. This tape means a lot to me, and I feel privileged to own an original. Please pass this link (and my gratitude) along to Joe as well. Cheers, and thanks again.

crimsonsamurai said...
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Jeffrey Howard said...

Oh wow. I've never heard this. This makes me happy to listen to.

Nate Fernald said...

Just came across this. Wolfie is one of my all-time favorite bands. And Mike and Joe's new bands are really amazing too (Shy Mirrors, Taken By Savages and Beaujolais are some of the best records I've bought in the past few years!). Any chance you have any Wolfie 7"s in the pipeline for posting?

spavid said...

I'll see if I can get some Wolfie vinyl up soon.