Sunday, December 25, 2022 she's trying to push me down the stairs, that's why I don't think she cares.

You might want to think of this as a ninth day of Chanukah since I'm giving you an entire box set this week. Three disks containing the the first segment of this Wyoming trio's discography. Enjoy.

Disc 1/Disc 2/Disc 3

All* broken links restored!!


And it only took NINE YEARS!  That's right, it hasn't been since roughly 2013 or 2014 that every single download link on this page was functioning. I mentioned earlier in the month that I'd already restored just about everything from 2007 to 2013, and that the remainder might have to wait until the new year, but I was able to get it done, on the last night of Chanukah and Christmas no less. The big game changer for me was switching my file hoster to Mediafire, who won't let links expire for premium members.  No more spending an endless amount of time chasing after your requests. Everything should remain stable, but as my experience with past file hosters has shown, the rug can always get pulled out from under us, so keep your fingers crossed.  This was a massive month-long endeavor entailing file by file restoration - not an easy thing considering my upload speed pale to those of typical download speeds.  True, there may be no "new" content in this particular entry, but 2400+ links are live, active and waiting to take up residence on your phone or hard drive. As for the asterisk in the title bar, here are a few things that won't be returning:

  • About 20% or more of the expired links will not be revived due to the fact that many of the albums and singles I've shared for the past fifteen years have been officially reissued, primarily through vendors like Amazon Downloads, Bandcamp, and occasionally even as physical reissues. I consider these particular releases to be "back in print," and as such I have no intention of depriving any of the artists I discuss on these pages of their hard earned money. Yes, there's a lot missing as a result, but technically you don't have to deprive yourself of the music itself, since these recordings are commercially available again. In almost all instances I've provided a link directing you to the point of purchase.
  • Mystery Monday links - which were designed to be available for one week tops.  Miss a Mystery Monday, and you miss a lot, though so may make a return appearance.
  • the two or three song "samplers"  which I made available with a few dozen of the reviews I've done on here. There were very few of these to begin with, and for what it's worth I did refresh  links to a couple of them
Can't believe I finished the whole thing. Sorry for ignoring the majority of your request this year. I simply couldn't keep up, but I've had this idea in the pipeline for ages now. Truth be told there are a handful of links (maybe ten, if that) I couldn't restore, due to the loss of the source files, but even these may be replaced at some point. Finally, in a few instances, I placed the links in the comments section where noted. Not many of these either.  Thanks for your patience, and more importantly your readership and support. It keeps Wilfuly Obscure going.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

You work hard, you went hungry, now the taxman is out to get you!

You'd think there wouldn't be a whole lot left in the vault. Cheap Trick first threw the doors of their metaphorical clearinghouse in 1996 with the Sex, America, Cheap Trick box/book set that included it's fair shake of outtakes and scarcities. This was followed up by expanded reissues of their classic 1970s to early '80 albums. If that weren't enough, there was eventually a series of rarities collections, (The Epic Archives - that to a large extent were a rehash of b-sides and bonus tracks that had already been available for decades), and unless you're a CT fan that's been living under a rock for the last five years or so, there's been a slew of archival live albums flooding the market, with a good chunk of those being Record Store Day titles.  And just a few years ago I even did my part when I shared unreleased material surrounding the Next Position Please and One on One albums.

Believe it or not, there's more "unheard" CT music that the vast majority of folks haven't encountered. Perhaps not so much in the way of revelatory unreleased songs, but at the very least abandoned session takes, demos and such, which is what I have for you tonight, particularly centering around the early Epic Records years. 23 songs total including alternate studio versions and edits from the first five albums, with a few random covers the band tinkered with privately in the early days. Most interestingly, after decades of looking I was finally able to uncover a small allotment of tracks cut by Sick Man of Europe, a CT precursor band featuring Tom Petersson and Rick Nielsen, circa 1972. Once Robin Zander was added to the lineup in '73, this was when they officially evolved into Cheap Trick. Oddly enough, it sounds like Robin singing on the SMoE tracks, even though the timeline doesn't exactly mesh. Still, the Sick Man... songs (all three of them) point to the band's blooming power pop chops and impressed me even more than expected. Certainly worth the wait. My track list is accompanied by the years the songs are derived from. There were more All Shook Up outtakes I could have included, but considering some of those were pretty rank, it's easy to understand why they didn't make it onto the record. I like to think I did a decent job of cutting the wheat from the chaff and hope you find a few tidbits here you'll enjoy. 

1-5 & 7 - first album, In Color outtakes
6 - from "Bun E's" basement bootlegs
8-10 - Heaven Tonight outtakes
11-13 - Dream Police outtakes
14-18 - All Shook Up outtakes
19 & 20 - "Bun E's" basement covers
21-23 - Sick Man of Europe 1972 demos. 

01. Southern Girls [alt]
02. Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace [alt]
03. Taxman Mr Thief [alt]
04. I Dig Go Go Girls
05. Lovin' Money [alt]
06. Waitin' for the Man
07. Don't Lie to Me
08. California Man [alt]
09. Heaven Tonight [alt]
10. Surrender [remix]
11. It Must Be Love
12. Next Position Please [alt]
13. Dream Police [remix]
14. Everything Works If You Let It [alt 1]
15. Everything Works If You Let It [alt 2]
16. Machines Make Money
17. Merry-Go-Round
18. Stop This Game [alt]
19. Wild Horses
20. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
21. Sick Man of Europe - Beans
22. Sick Man of Europe - Hot Tomato
23. Sick Man of Europe - I'm a Surprise


Friday, December 23, 2022

Tommy Keene - mid-80s outtakes/demos

You might consider this to be a follow-up or sister post to a collection of Tommy Keene demos I shared all the way back in 2009, back when the man in question was still alive and well.  Why the long layover?  First, I didn't realize that more unreleased mid-80s material existed (it's not like anyone keeps me filled in on these things), and secondly, per the torrent I purloined these from earlier this year these songs have all been recently remastered.  Here's the story from my purview on the origination of these seventeen songs.

Tommy's first album, 1982's Strange Alliance was released roughly four years before his next one, 1986' Songs From the Film, which was also his major label debut. In the intervening years, a couple of EPs (Places That Are Gone and Back Again) broke the silence, but he had far more than a half dozen songs (or so) heating on the burner. In fact, his pockets were loaded with more than twenty, some of which found a home on the aforementioned EPs. 1984 and '85 were essentially Tommy Keene in the studio. Per some of the copy from my original '09 entry:

The album Songs From The Film was essentially recorded twice, first with T-Bone Burnett and Don Dixon producing, and then again, for the version that was ultimately released, with Geoff Emerick producing. Some of the Burnett/Dixon recordings were later released on the "Run Now" vinyl EP. Those tracks, plus a few more outtakes, were then included on the 1998 CD reissue of Songs From The Film.

Now, from the yonder Tommy Keene post mentioned above I was sharing five demos/outtakes from this era, when unbeknownst to me there were approximately four times as many songs laid down in the studio in preparation for Song From the Film.  The question I have, are these demos he recorded on his own, or if these are the Burnett/Dixon produced tracks that were ultimately scrapped?  They certainly could pass for rough album mixes at the very least. Moreover, the treatment of many of these songs bear more subtlety than what were ultimately released for public consumption. Not in an acoustic or li-fi sort of tenor, rather just a bit slighter and restrained, with perhaps less guitar bite. In fact, that's what I love about these versions. 

All of that comparative minutia aside, there's some phenomenal music here, some of the most compelling Tommy ever committed to tape including, "Listen to Me," "Safe in the Light" and "Drowning." There's nothing here that's less than sumptuously warm and melodic. Tommy Keene possessed a bona fide magic that so many of us took for granted over the course of his roughly 40 year career that can legitimately be termed as peerless. 

01. Back Again (Try)
02. I Fall Down Too
03. Stop
04. Save My Life
05. Safe in the Light
06. As Life Goes By
07. Drowning
08. Astronomy
09. Faith in Love (elec vers.)
10. The Story Ends
11. Run Now
12. We're Two
13. Nothing is Grey
14. Listen to Me
15. Gold Town
16. Call On Me
17. The Story Ends (2)

MP3  or  FLAC

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Room Nine - Voices.....of a Summers Day (1987, C'est La Mort)

I don't think I've talked about this one yet. Over the years, from what I've observed (namely, archived show flyers from '80s Seattle gigs and other historical ephemera) Room Nine were fixtures in the Emerald City club circuit, even if they didn't bear any discernible earmarks of  the soon-to-be-trademark sound their hometown would soon be renown for.  Combos like Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, and yes, Nirvana were all veritable startups at the time, but Room Nine operated on a less-than-parallel wavelength.

The Ron Rudzitis-helmed quartet were responsible for the lone LP I'm sharing tonight.  R/N were unlikely to have gotten any push from your typical Z-95 FM  spaces on the dial, rather I'd be willing to pony up more than a little dough that they were staples at college radio outposts, especially in/around Seattle. What few summations I've encountered on the band tend to play-up their "psych" sensibilities, yet I'm hearing barely a whiff of such likenesses. Instead, Room Nine were forward thinking, modern rock rats with a hankering for the milder strains of post-punk and indie. I'm willing to make loose comparisons to the Chameleons and the Cure at best - sans any gratuitous gloom, and most refreshingly, an absence of the attendant pretensions that accompany the scenes surrounding such ilk.

And who needs pretensions, or posturing, or heck, even the whole Batcave cosplay shtick when you have deep (just not too deep) and wholly affecting tunes, with just enough downcast mystique to keep things afloat?  Voices....of a Summers Day may not be a modern rock totem for the ages, but it houses a spate of fairly crucial tunes in the guise of "Sea Without a Shore," "1000 Years," and "Circus Floor," worthy of any mid-'80s left-of-the-dial mix tape. Michael Laton's clangy, faintly echoing guitar leads add just enough shading and sparseness to what R/N were attempting, and a tight rhythm section seals the proverbial deal with ease. The only anomaly I encountered on this disc is the uncharacteristically extroverted pop of "The Thorn," but if you ask me it's consoling to know these chaps were actually indulging in a little bit of fun amidst this record's persuasive melancholic hues.

A 1985 demo tape is the band's only other recorded legacy. The post-script for Room Nine largely begins and ends with Rod Rudzitis' future resume entry, as mouthpiece for the considerably more visible Love Battery, who after a commendable bouquet of releases on Sub Pop in the early '90s were inevitably teased by major label $$$, and didn't show much for themselves after that unfortunate career move soon petered out.  There might be other portals in the sharity blogosphere hosting R/N music, but the links below were taken from my own rip of the album.

01. Circus Floor
02. Revolving Door
03. Don't Look Back
04. Red Dog
05. 1000 Years
06. The Thorn
07. Mirage
08. Sea Without a Shore
09. White Summer

MP3  or  FLAC

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Muffs - Live on Air! 1993 & 1995.

In the early '90s, it felt like my cup was just starting to brim...but it hadn't runneth over just yet.  So let's see, there was plenty of crucial American indie rock to be had (Sebadoh, Superchunk, Treepeople), dream pop was at it's absolute zenith (My Bloody Valentine, Ride and the Lilys), not to mention the latest permeation of punk (Bad Religion, Dischord Records, etc) and don't even get me started on the geyser that was gushing out of the American northwest. Still, by 1992 I wasn't convinced that the Clinton years would rival (or even less probably, outdo) the musical output of the 1980s. Then, sometime in the spring or summer of 1993, a certain co-ed earworm from southern Cali named The Muffs burrowed it's way into my hairy noggin by virtue of their slammin' self-titled LP, and at that point I was sold on the notion that the '80s would in fact have a decade of equal significance adjacent to it.

With that pithy and analytical little intro out of the way what more can I tell you than you probably already know about one of the finest punk and roll aggregations to ever combust their way out of the City of Angels?  Seven albums, at least as many singles, soundtrack placements, multiple band  lineups, tours galore, and of course, one song used in a Fruitopia TV ad. Then, seemingly out of the blue, front-woman and focal point Kim Shattuck left us in 2019 after losing a private battle with ALS. What's left is a near-monumental legacy and body of song. 

I'm not sure if there's much that was left on the Muffs cutting room floor, with all the band's Warner Bros. output having recently been reissued an expanded. Dare I say a live album of some type somewhere down the line?  I don't pride myself on being a collector of their bootlegs, but I do have a couple items I'm sharing tonight. Hot on the heels of their aforementioned debut is a fairly lengthy in-studio performance from September 1993 on L.A.'s KXLU (during one of the the station's fund drives) featuring a generous thirteen tunes including a cover of The Saint's "Kissin' Cousins." Next is a similar setup circa 1995 in support of Blonder and Blonder on WDRE's Underground Lounge in Philly. Eleven tunes interspersed with amusing call-in interview queries.  Both of these sets are a blast with the Muffs requisite humor and full-volume aplomb firmly on display. I'm making them available in MP3 and FLAC. A big thanks to whomever taped these off the radio and went to the effort of digitizing them.

WXLU, Los Angeles 9/17/93
01. -intro-
02. I Don't Like You
03. New Love
04. Saying Goodbye
05. Lucky Guy
06. -thanks-
07. From Your Girl
08. Every Single Thing
09. Better Than Me
10. Kissin' Cousins
11. Another Day
12. -thanks-
13. Brand New Chevy
14. Big Mouth
15. Right In The Eye
16. I Need You
17. -closing comments-

MP3  or  FLAC

WDRE Underground Lounge, Philadelphia 5/23/95
01. Agony
02. Lucky Guy
03. Saying Goodbye
04. Sad Tomorrow
05. Bed Of Roses
06. -interview-
07. End It All
08. Oh Nina
09. Red Eyed Troll
10. Ethyl My Love
11. -tour dates-
12. New Love   
13. Big Mouth
14. -interview-

MP3  or  FLAC

Monday, December 19, 2022

The Keys - Unlocked (1981-1983) (2021, Flash Bang)

It never ceases to amaze me how far a record label will go to suppress or outright kill-off the memory of an artist formerly on their roster that stiffed (or more currently, one that's been "cancelled" due to public scorn or outrage).  Back in 1981, despite London's Keys releasing a gob-smackingly fantastic power pop album, produced by Joe Jackson no less, with backing by A&M Records, the four protagonists I'm about to introduce you to were so ill-promoted that even if the burgeoning new wave movement never transpired this band still probably wouldn't have caught a break. 

Whatever errors or missteps that were made concerning the band's one-and-done '81 LP, The Keys Album, the dozen songs absorbing it's grooves (not to mention a few primo b-sides) were in no way, shape or form a detriment. Admittedly, the Key's fusion of power pop with jangly and harmony-laden specks of Brit-invasion (some undeniable Beatle-isms to be certain) may have sounded dated when held up to the likes of A Flock of Seagulls or Gary Numan. But in place of state-of-the-art accoutrements Keys fans were bejeweled with out-and-out pristine three minute surges, including such flawless singles as "I Don't Wanna Cry," and "Greasy Money." Trouser Press magazine had this to impart:

This overlooked gem of a pop album was criminally ignored in England and never released in the States. The four Keys may wear their influences (mainly the Beatles and their producer, Joe Jackson) a bit too much on their sleeves — several of the songs sound unfortunately like outtakes from Joe’s Look Sharp! — but their knack for pretty melodies, close harmonies and intelligent lyrics make the overall sound original and fresh.

Ultimately, in the several decades that ensued after the band's tenure, the only arguments that befell The Keys Album revolved around it's sheer scarcity (primarily a UK import, with scant US copies pressed) and the fact that it never (to this day in fact) made the CD/digital migration, despite consistent requests from the small, but fervent fanbase the Keys accrued.  Ironically, the conversation was never really about whether additional material existed, but in 2021 devotees such as myself were in for a colossal treat. 

The Keys Unlocked (1981-1983) was a limited edition, vinyl-only proposition that was limited to 600 copies, and was said to have been "withdrawn" within a week due to "publishing issues," per Discogs.  I've seen two separate record labels credited with the album's release, Flash Bang, and Rollin Records, with only the later having an online presence, yet with no mention of this record whatsoever.  I managed to obtain files of the whole thing which I'm offering below in both MP3 and lossless FLAC.

One would assume the songs on Unlocked were demos written and recorded for a follow-up album that never was. The vast majority of what's here is evidence that The Keys Album was no one-off fluke, with the uber-melodic "Don't Do That" and "Confidence" ranking alongside the finest of the band's jaw-dropping first blush.  Sonically, the Keys' overarching inclinations on their second batch of songs were considerably richer an fuller, countering the often tinny and treble-ridden sound Joe Jackson was wont to emphasize. So much so that "I'm Not Satisfied" and "Tongue Tied" were muscular enough to compete on FM radio, had the Keys been fortunate to realize such a scenario. Nonetheless, there's still plenty of leaner songs on Unlocked that would have fit in like a glove on their debut. The Keys were simply a phenomenally talented and prodigious band whose songs rivaled The Records, Wreckless Eric, and arguably even Nick Lowe. It's a travesty that their catalog has been languishing on scarce, overpriced vinyl and not in an official digital medium, but I'm doing my damnedest to rectify that. Enjoy.

01. I Gotta Gun
02. Crying Out for Love
03. Who Bit Who
04. Tongue Tied
05. Girl Friday
06. Don't Do That
07. Confidence
08. Talk About Love
09. Daddy Was a Spy
10. Way With Words
11. I'm Not Satisfied
12. Ain't Got the Time

MP3  or  FLAC

Six supreme singles!

So I haven't assembled a bundle of Chanukah singles in about three years.  Why? Well, it's not for lack of content to share, rather it's a lot of work, and I just can't do it every year. But if it's 45s you're seeking this is your lucky year. Yep, it's another Wilfully Obscure dozen: six singles equaling twelve amazing sides of 7" wax culled from boxes containing hundreds of fair/decent/good records, but often times just a handful of exceptional specimens - and Chanukah is all about the exceptional. Download links in MP3 or lossless FLAC are available at the end of the post.

Ultra Cindy - Whirlwind/Rollercoaster 7" (1992, Praha)

I'm calling this one a do-over, because it is. I originally tackled this 45 in 2012, but the source vinyl was water/storage damaged and entailed an excruciating amount of surface noise as a result. I've since found far superior sounding versions of these amazing two songs of heady and heavy-handed dream pop. Ultra Cindy were Virginia denizens who not only had a keen ear for UK originators Ride and My Bloody Valentine, but less renown American prodigies Fudge and the Swirlies too.  An equally impressive full length, Mermaid's Parade was issued two years later. Better living through shoegaze!

River Roses - "Phoenix" + 2 7" (1986, Monsoon)

I've had no lack of interest in posting/sharing anything pertaining to Tuscon, AZ's River Roses, rather truth be told they've been pretty attentive to keeping their catalog available either physically or digitally. As such, this 45 will be the extent of what I have to offer from this coed-troupe, and if you're down with deft, ringing guitar pop with a sincere and earnest tack you'll soon discover R/R check off a myriad of boxes. This is one band that doesn't sound like an overproduced or tricked-out studio monstrosity of their era, and that must've been hella refreshing in the mid-80s. The a-side of my copy has a tiny scratch affecting the last rotation or two of "Phoenix," but you'll be happy to know you can buy the song, and the full album it's derived from here.

Slow Children Playing - My Pal God (And Other Tales Of Suburban Ennui)/Typo 7" (1994, Jiffy Boy) 

I lament bands that didn't stick around long enough to make it to the album stage, and I can certainly graft New Jersey's Slow Children Playing to end of that list. It's a fair assessment that these folks had their ears tuned into a lot of Chapel Hill, NC indie rock back in their epoch, and even when they don't scale to the heights of say, Superchunk, what SCP had going for them was still relatively superlative.  Besides this 45, the band is survived by a split single and contributions to numerous low-profile compilations. 

The Othermothers - Party Topics/Traveling in Circles 7" (1984, Chad)

And speaking of North Carolina, my understanding is that the Othermothers were regarded as the pinnacle of their local Greensboro scene. Judging from this 45, and a wonderful ep, No Place Like Home that I pitched ya'll way back in 2008, it's easy to discern why, given their aptitude for churning out edgy and often provocative songs. Here are two halfway-there-punk jams with a slightly cheeky demeanor. "Party Topics" would be rerecorded for the aforementioned subsequent No Place Like Home. My apologies for the choppy audio on this one. Should I come across a better copy I'll happily post an improved rip.

True Rumor - Iowa/Something More 7" (1986, True Music)

I can't recall how True Rumor made their way onto my retro-active sonar a few years ago, but I was impressed enough to connect with one of the former band members who was gracious and generous enough to send me a couple of original T/R albums, and even this early artifact.  Hailing from NJ, and not the Midwest as one would readily assume giving this 45's title, True Rumor specialized in uptempo, working-class guitar rock that straddled one foot in traditional AOR FM rock, with the other well situated in more thoughtful power pop environs. Even if they're not outright revelations, "Iowa" and it's flip-side, "Something More" gratify with ease.

New Flamingos - The Imposter/Talk of Love 7" (1984, Flamingo)

Akin to the Othermothers single I told you about, the New Flamingos are another prime example of  a band who's obscuro single I made a point of seeking out after imbibing one of their other records. In the case of N/F, that would be 1983's In the Pink. In the space of a year, this bygone Seattle foursome went from pedaling rootsy power pop to emulating none other than Declan Macmanus (that would be Elvis Costello to you, me and the rest of the general public) on this ace single.  "The Imposter" eases us into the Flamingos new motif with a tenor similar to E.C.'s "Alison," albeit the hook here isn't quite as memorable. "Talk of Love" packs considerably more thrust and bears enough telltale affectations to almost qualify as a My Aim is True outtake. Had a bit of a moral dilemma in deciding if I wanted to share this, as my copy of the single jumps in a couple spots near the end of "Talk of Love." I'm pretty certain my turntable isn't the issue, and the record itself has been cleaned, but in any event the band has posted their own unblemished rip of the tune on Soundcloud.  Cheers.

MP3  or  FLAC

Sunday, December 18, 2022

She held a bass guitar and she was playing in a band, and she stood just like Bill Wyman, now I am her biggest fan.

Welcome to the first night. It was long ago indeed.  So long in fact. that the album we're considering wasn't just merely released thirty years ago, rather closer to 37. Per the header, I didn't feel the need to spell out the name of the artist in question, as a quick scan of the sleeve to your below right tells you virtually everything you need to know about what you're in store for. 

Released in 2016 while Smithereens prime-mover Patrick Di Nizio was thankfully still with us, this limited edition two-fer CD, ironically didn't contain the original album mixes of Especially For You, or even remixes, rather 47 tracks of live material, demos, studio and session oddities surrounding their remarkable, and frankly classic 1986 debut. Back then, no one, presumably the band themselves, were focused on how the album would be regarded several decades later.  

EFY isn't consistently found hovering on top-ten desert-island lists, even amongst power pop aficionados, and for that matter it's most familiar songs ("Behind the "Wall of Sleep" and "Blood and Roses") aren't crowding out the likes of say, "How Soon is Now?" on classic-alternative radio, Spotify, etc. Yet the half million or so of us who got the Smithereens in the mid-80s, know there's absolutely no substitute in the world for records like Especially..., Green Thoughts, and 11.  

Containing no liner notes or credits, save for a detailed track list on the tray card, the anniversary edition of this compendium is divided into four fairly even quadrants - a live configuration of the album, followed up by a demo mock-up of EFY, leading into a second disc populated with live acoustic performances and a hodgepodge of alternate versions, more live takes and some occasional offbeat curios. Sure, this set is for the diehards, but recurring as the tracklist gets it's a testament to how well these dozen songs have held up so many years after the fact across different permutations, be they live, unplugged, in prototype form or otherwise.   

So what are the highlights here? The live bait takes the cake, most of which is plucked from shows relative to the Especially... era, with one exception, "Behind the Walls of Sleep" being taken from a '94 gig at the L.A. House of Blues. Though I never caught the band performing "Hand of Glory" in concert, I wish I had attended a few more Smithereens gigs based on the riveting version  presented here.  The demos portion isn't as consistently revelatory as I had hoped, but pretty much anywhere we luck out and get a track with vocals the results can be nearly as rewarding as the finished product. As for the instrumental demos, it's almost eerie not to hear Pat's voice, even though he was still alive and well at the time.

The brunt of the eight live acoustic numbers are culled from 1985 shows at Folk City in New York.  Given the lovelorn and romantic heft of DiNizio's prose fan favorites "Strangers When We Meet" and "Cigarette" work perfectly in a stripped down context as much as they do when blasted through Marshall stacks.  That still leaves us with fifteen miscellaneous nuggets filling up the remainder of disc two, albeit luckily with virtually no filler. I won't give too much away, but the outtake versions of "Blood and Roses" are fun, and in 2004 our Jersey heroes fired up the grill for a fresh taste of "White Castle Blues."  Click to enlarge the entire track-list above. BTW, the physical variant of Especially For You 1986-2016, 30th Anniversary is sold out.

One more thing.  I want to throw in a plug for the 'reens Lost Album, which just came down the pike a few months ago, unleashing for the first time a dozen songs tracked in 1993, when the band was between labels (Capitol and BMG).  Nothing from this session carried over to their 1994 album, A Date With the Smithereens, so it's Lost Album moniker is wholly sincere and apropos. Dare I say a first for supposed "lost albums?"


Friday, December 16, 2022

Watching the candles burn - the eight nights of Chanukah will be back before you know it!

"Seconds pass slowly, and years go flying by," so sayeth one of the many poetry gods I listen to (now if only he'd release his next damn album, but I digress).  2022 was no exception as one of those fly-by years, and with December (and occasionally late November based on the Hebrew calendar) comes a tradition I began in 2012 and have resuscitated annually ever since like clockwork. Starting this Sunday evening, the first night of Chanukah 2022, I invite you to join me for eight consecutive nights of my most bodacious and audacious shares of the year. Nothing really out of the ordinary this time - the usual spigot of un/under-released vinyl, bootlegs, live offerings and demos. 

You might be asking what initially motivated me to begin this tradition altogether.  For one, it gives me a convenient excuse to share several mind-blowing "gifts" instead of just one big reveal on Christmas.  Secondly, Chanukah represents personal relevance to me.  We all know you were envious of that kid down the block who had a yarmulke festooned to their head, who was given the privilege of lighting the menorah, and of course, reveling in eight glorious nights of presents.  Once again, I'm paying it forward.  Previous Chanukah entries have featured Wire, Velocity Girl, Jellyfish, Husker Du and Teenage Fanclub, but name recognition is hardly a guarantee.  As in past years, there will definitely be familiar faces, but also several entrants that have never garnered face-time on W/O.  Bear in mind that what's crucial and/or specal to my ears may not be of equal essence to yours, but kindly, try to humor me.

At the top of each Chanukah upload will be a thumbnail photo of a menorah, with the appropriate number of lit candles to denote each succeeding evening until all eight slots in the candelabra are occupied on the concluding night, coincidentally this year on Christmas day. Here are a few details to bear in mind:

  • Look for the first Chanukah posting this Sunday evening, and then for the remaining seven nights 'round supper time all next week. 
  • Mystery Monday will be taking a break this coming Monday (Dec. 19) so as not to disrupt or distract from the continuity of the eight consecutive nights of the holiday.
  • Some offerings will be made available in FLAC (in addition to standard MP3).
  • On an arguably related note, I'm in the throes of restoring fifteen years worth of dead download links. Go here and here for full details.
And as always, download responsibly.  Have fun (you will). 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Mighty Lemon Drops - Inside Out 1985-90 (2022, Cherry Red) - A peak inside the box.

Has it really been 34 years since a gaggle of us American teens/twenty-somethings were transfixed by The Mighty Lemon Drops music video for "Inside Out?"  For me anyway, it seems like it was merely yesterday, and even though I wasn't onto these leather-jacketed, Midlands UK denizens from the second their first album Happy Head dropped in 1986, I wouldn't haven't preferred any other introduction.  Sounding not unlike the hypothetical mixed-blood orphans of the Jesus and Mary Chain, Julian Cope and early Echo and the Bunnymen, the Paul Marsh-helmed quartet were included on the now seminal C86 compilation tape of the class of 1986 Brit indie hopefuls, yet ultimately they weren't defined by or tethered to that scene. 

Catching many a lucky break since their formation in 1985, MLD had the chops and songs to break out of England, and they did so quite handily with a legacy any band would be flabbergasted with. Inside Out is a new five disc box set that that surveys an in-depth assessment of virtually every scrap of material they laid down between 1985 and '90, with the centerpieces composed of remastered and expanded versions of their first three albums - Happy Head, World Without End, and Laughter

There were a handful of significant short-form releases (singles, etc) that preceded Happy Head which I'll address later, but as for their debut album, the MLD made their presence and intentions known amidst a confident, pounding and urgent mesh of jangle and distortion. In addition to proving their post-punk bona-fides on the Stephen Street-produced Happy Head, whatever psychedelic affectations the quartet wielded were at their apex here, and would never be quite as prominent again. At heart they were a pop band, but a tense and vigorous one at that with driving bashers including "The Other Side of You," "Take Me Up," and the title cut all leaving a trail of sweet and sour lemon peelings in their gritty wake.  I'd be remiss if I left out one of the band's signature pieces, "My Biggest Thrill," bearing a knockout chorus hook so effective that even the likes of Ian McCulloch could never dream of wrapping his pouty lips around it.  Happy Head may not have leveled the same sonic impact as say, Psychcocandy, but it's just about the closest these lads would ever come to honing the perfect record.  As for bonus content, this disk is rounded out by a bevy of contemporary b-sides and their debut EP, 1985's Like an Angel.

Shortly after it's release, Sire Records in the States quickly followed ...Head up with an eight-song mini album, Out of Hand in '87 with the emphasis being on early singles and live numbers.  While there are no complaints to be had about this holdover record in of itself, the songs that composed it are fragmented as bonus tracks across no less than three different CDs in this set. Shame shame. Needless to say I wish they had retained Out of Hand's original running order, but that's just about the only quibble I can take with Inside Out.

In 1988 the Lemon Drops delivered their not-so-difficult second album.  Indeed, World Without End didn't come close to 'breaking' them in the States but it did a hell of a lot to raise their profile.  Happy Head may have cast the mold, but World... was palpably sharper, focused, and considerably tauter.  The beauty is that none of these developments came at the expense of sacrificing their idealism. To reiterate, the album's key single, "Inside Out," is nothing short of a head turner, an embittered anthem of scorned love that drives it's point home not so much with indignant rage but seismic melody. Further in, "Hear Me Call" pitches the kind of angular sway that turns a merely good song into something phenomenal, and even when the going slides into something a tad routine, song-for-song World...unfurls yet another goldmine.  We're treated to no less than nine bonus cuts here, including most of the studio material on the aforementioned Out of Hand, plus a clutch of newer b-sides with the decent "Head on the Block" and a respectable run through of the Stones "Paint it Black" leaving the deepest impressions. 

What I'm about to posit might strike you as a strange (at the very least) analogy but here goes. Laughter was to the MLD, what the 'Black Album' was to Metallica - a solid 45° turn that altered the scope of Paul Marsh and Co's original penchant without squashing the band's overarching premise. Did the album's demonstrable radio-friendly tweaks irk early fans?  I really have no idea, as I wasn't tuned into the politics at the time, but Laughter undoubtedly took some getting used to.  The good: the Lemon Drops finally made a dent with the Yanks, thanks in part to relatively mainstream alt-rock radio embracing the likes of  "Into the Heart of Love" and "Where Do We Go From Heaven." The bad?  Horns simply don't suit the MLD.  These boys were no Style Council, and in the case of the especially egregious "Written in Fiction" the trumpets are outright overpowering, not to mention gaudy.  Perhaps so much so that a brass-less mix of the tune is featured as a bonus selection on the supplementary portion of Laughter.  With that out of the way, the 'hits' were considerably more tolerable, as were a pair of visceral album cuts, "The Heartbreak Thing" and "Second Time Around."  A lively, modernized cover of the Standells "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear" should have made the album proper, and not been relegated to a mere b-side. 

With the trifecta of the bands first batch of LPs out of the way that leaves two more discs in this set.  I suppose the band could have taken the obvious and easy way out and finish things off with the Lemon Drops fourth and fifth albums, Sound... and Ricochet, but instead they went all out and included two CDs worth of Happy Head and World Without End-era demos, radio sessions, and a pastiche of various live tracks. The first installment kicks off with their first demo tape, 1985's Some of My Best Friends Are Songs. Originally appearing on the now out-of-print Uptight early rarities collection, it's clear that the shadow of the Bunnymen loomed large over these eight nascent tunes, but while the Lemon Drops still had a lot of wood-shedding ahead of them they boasted a commendable foot in the door. Tackling the Velvets "There She Goes Again," made for a dandy punctuation mark at the end of this one. We're then treated to some vintage BBC sessions, a subsequent set of demos (wherein the band sounds doubly more confident) and an extract of selections from a 1986 performance at the London Astoria. 

The last CD concludes with largely more of the same, with an especially plush and warm sounding Manchester radio session circa 1988, another quick shot of demos, including "Hear Me Call," and the even more enticing, post punk-tinctured "World Without End," an outtake that never carried over to the album of it's own namesake. From there, there's about an album's worth of live cuts snatched from no less than three different gigs. The whole shebang is topped off with an extended mix of their signature piece "Inside Out." Inside Out (referring to the box set as a whole) is an ideal place for fans intrigued with the Lemon Drops video and radio hits of yore to delve in further to hear what they've missed over the past thirty years or so.  As for MLB completists who assume they already have everything, to a certain extent that's accurate, but the remastering is impeccably good, and who wouldn't want a catalog this potent conveniently gathered up in one tidy place?  

Inside Out is available direct from Cherry Red, Amazon, and hopefully a brick and mortar retailer near you.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Big News II: All* 2010-2013 broken links have been restored .

Actually, that should probably read all 2007-2013 links have been restored, because I tackled the first three years of this site about a week ago. For more details on what's going and what files aren't coming back please check out my post from December 4. One additional thing to point out - the Mystery Monday links aren't being revived, much like the titles that have become commercially available again.

Yes, this has been quite the project and I still have a ways to go.  Nonetheless, well over 1000 links are active again, and I've even updated a LOT of the post-2013 links. Hopefully the next time I post a follow-up regarding restored links should be when I have ALL links I intend to revive back up and running. Until then have at it!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Sometimes I wish that I was nine years old again.

From 1982. The first of four albums.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


The Swinging Madisons - s/t ep (1981, Select)

I'm not sure when, where, or even why I picked this one up. Certainly not because I like rockabilly, which was undoubtedly part and parcel of the Swinging Madisons DNA. But luckily this well coifed combo were also equal parts garage, pub and power pop.  Per the band's bio (click the hyperlink above) there's a lot of name-dropping going on, mentioning Bobby Rydell and the Cramps within the first three paragraphs alone. While the Madisons don't necessarily sound like a hybrid of those two, you're bound to hear intermittent glints of them and their like-minded aesthetics throughout this all-too-fleeting platter.

As it turns out, frontman Kristian Hoffman was also a member of The Mumps, whose recent anthology we dedicated some space to last year. At any rate, as far as the Madisons themselves were concerned, they only left us with this record, but they made it count.  The aforementioned bio goes into more detail than I ever could, so read it at your leisure if these tunes leave any kind of impression on you.

01. Hurdy Gurdy Man
02. Guilty White Liberal
03. Put Your Bra Back On
04. Volare
05. My Mediocre Dream


The Clean - Left by Soft tape (1981). In remembrance of Hamish Kilgour (1957-2022)

When the news went our earlier this week that The Clean's Hamish Kilgour was found deceased a few days after being reported missing, the ripples generated were nothing short of staggering.  As the drummer/vocalist alongside brother David Kilgour for the beloved Dunedin, NZ outfit, not to mention one of the flagship bands for Flying Nun Records, Hamish was remembered not merely for his role in The Clean, but just as consequentially his involvement in making a name for Kiwi-pop writ large, and perhaps more specifically the "Dunedin sound."

In indie circles, everyone has beloved city and even nation scenes. Though Kiwi-pop never broke mainstream in the States, thousands of punk and post-punk adherents clung to the music emanating from the isles due southeast of Australia. particularly that which was created in the last quarter of the twentieth century. While I wasn't a chronic follower of what was happening in the nation that was that much more down under I had my own contingent of favorites to vouch for - The Bats, Straitjacket Fits, Toy Love, and Bailter Space, the latter of which Hamish was part of an early lineup. So far as the Clean were concerned I never featured them on Wilfully Obscure, nor held an abundance of curiosity for, save for a times I caught a random song on college radio, or listened to the nicely packed, forty-some-odd song Anthology compendium.  In a nutshell, I never took the full scale plunge into The Clean, yet virtually every note I'd heard from the band was above satisfactory, if not well above.

A few years ago I must have been curious enough to do some excavating on the Clean, and in my pursuit I found files for a 1981 cassette album, Left By Soft, that even preceded another more renown tape, Oddities.  In studying track lists and such, a good number of tracks on Left By Soft carried over to Oddities, though I can't verify if the versions are one and the same. A few cuts, namely "Thumbs Off" and "Platypus" would soon land on subsequent singles. From what little I've been able to glean, this exceedingly scarce cassette is a comilation of early demos and live tracks, and while it doesn't quite illustrate the definitive Clean formula, the building blocks were present and would be taking shape in the not-too distant future. Btw,  I'm picking up on no shortage of Joy Division homage here, particularly the Peter Hook-ish bass lines, adding an intriguing layer of texture. Perhaps not the most crucial component in the overarching Clean cannon, the truly devoted will find Left By Soft to be a fascinating portal into the band's nascent meanderings. 

01. Thumbs Off
02. Getting Older
03. Oddity
04. Point That Thing
05. At the Bottom
06. Platypus
07. Point That Thing part 2
08. Count to Ten
09. Quickstep
10. Yesterday Was
11. I Don't Get You
12. Quickstep
13. Left by Jam 


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Seems like I'm always just a moment behind...

Four eps, many of them quite recent. 

**Please do not reveal artists in comments!** 


Big News: All* 2007-2009 (and then some) links have been restored with more to come!

This has been a long time coming folks.  For years anywhere between 80% to 90% of the download links on the these pages have expired. For the past five years I've taken up the Sisyphean role of restoring specific links that you've requested.  My attendance to fixing expired links in 2022 has been especially woeful. This hasn't really worked out, specifically because Zippyshare, my file-hoster of choice for nearly ten years will delete any file that hasn't been accessed in 30 days or longer. I've been playing an utterly pointless cat and mouse game forcing me to locate to a more permanent file hoster. I could have gone with Mega, but instead I decided to place my bests on another company with a solid reputation, MediaShare.  Though I have to pay out of pocket for the privilege (just under $4 USD a month) I'm assured the links will remain resident on their site for a year, and if I continue to renew my account annually possibly for several more years to come.

The idea is to revive as many of the dead links as possible - perhaps all of them except for a few categories which I'll explain below shortly. Since it's immensely time consuming to upload roughly 2500 files this is going to be a lengthy-ish endeavor, and if I decide to restore the entire enchilada I may not complete this task until sometime in January. For the past three weeks I've updated at least 750 broken links starting chronologically from the first year of Wilfully Obscure, 2007 all the way to the end of 2009. What's more. I've jumped ahead and updated hundreds of post-2009 links, many of which were based on your most demanded requests. In fact, I plan to begin updating 2010 (and beyond) era links as soon as later tonight.  

Here's where the asterisk comes in. About 20% or more of the expired links will not be returning due to the fact that many of the albums and singles I've shared for the past fifteen years have been officially reissued, primarily through vendors like Amazon Downloads, Bandcamp, and occasionally even as physical reissues. I consider these particular releases to be "back in print," and as such I have no intention of depriving any of the artists I discuss on these pages of their hard earned money. Yes, there's a lot missing on here, but technically you don't have to deprive yourself of the music itself, since these recordings are commercially available again. In almost all instances I've provided a link directing you to the point of purchase.  Also, the "samplers" of two or so songs that accompanied some of the earlier album reviews I did won't be coming back either.

As I've stated, if time allows I'm going to do my utmost to restore the vast majority of the expired links, but again this will take time. Since I don't always have an adequate amount of time to comb through the comments you, if there's a file you absolutely can't wait for, feel free to email me via the address stated in my user profile and I'll see what I can do to expedite your request. Otherwise, dig in to the archives and please be patient with the rest of this endeavor. I think it will be worth it. Thanks for your readership and support.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Jitterz - Over Here ep (1984, Nocopo)

Sorry for another sparse week in terms of posting goes, but I should have a big announcement to make later on Sunday that will make everyone very happy. Until then, consider The Jitterz, a bygone New Jersey proposition who had a penchant for snythy power pop/wave and a charming DIY aesthetic.  Some lightweight socio-political commentary certainly adds to the fun, but Over Here is just as likely make you groove as think.  This ep was preceded by another one. A single, "The World's Gone Mad" followed in '88, and apparently the band folded not long after that.

01. Better Off Without You
02. Ignorance is Bliss
03. Disco Gone Rock
04. America Goes Shopping
05. Where Did Our Parents Go Wrong
06. Bring on Another Week