Friday, December 8, 2023

File under Windbreakers: Bobby Sutliff - What I Wanted Wasn't What I Found: Home demos (1986)

In a nutshell, when singer/songwriter Bobby Sutliff passed away after a battle with cancer on August 29, 2022, the world in general didn't know what they lost, because frankly, the world in general wasn't aware of his presence in the first place. Nonetheless, I know he's not a stranger to a lot of you reading this, but just as a backgrounder for the uninitiated, I'm going to source some details from a piece I originally penned for the reissue of Bobby's 1987 album Only Ghosts Remain.

Making his bow in the early '80s from the somewhat unlikely locale of Jackson, MS as half of the songwriting quotient of the Windbreakers, Bobby, partnered with Tim Lee, would be responsible for three memorable albums of collegiate guitar pop (Terminal (1985), Run (1986) and A Different Sort (1987), not to mention a handful of preceding EPs. The Windbreakers were something of a staple on left-of-the-dial radio outlets, and were a decent live draw, but they didn't come close to breaching the mainstream.  To fans of jangle-laden indie rock coming remotely from the same environs as R.E.M. (and maybe less so the Dream Syndicate) the band was a breath of fresh air. Almost immediately subsequent to several of the aforementioned albums, Bobby pursued solo endeavors resulting in five albums between 1987 and one posthumously released earlier this year, Bob Sings and Plays

As for the music concerning tonight's presentation, What I Wanted Wasn't What Found was not my creation, and in fact I have no source to credit the actual curator, so to whomever assembled this (possibly Bobby himself?), gracias. Despite it's purported recording date of 1986, none of the songs here wound up on his first proper album, Only Ghosts Remain, making the bulk of these compositions unique to this collection. Given these dozen and a half songs were likely committed to a four or eight track machine, sonically there's an organic, lo-fi bent to them. While certainly not buttoned-down, so to speak, Bobby doesn't engage in anything particularly sloppy either. The overarching vibe is akin to an early Mitch Easter of Don Dixon production, and while perhaps not as seminal as, R.E.M. or the dB's there's a plenty of charm and roughhewn warmth to revel in. Highlights include but aren't limited to jangly, engaging morsels like "Cold Cold Rain," "Call Your Name," not to mention the hazy psych tinctures (a la Rain Parade) employed on "Don't Come Here At Night."  Amongst a bevy of stimulating originals is a rewarding spin on the Flamin' Groovies masterstroke "I Can't Hide."  Though it may lack the continuity of a proper album, What I Wanted... is nonetheless a font of inspired, homegrown songcraft that will be a major find for both aficionados of the Windbreakers, and fans of guitarsy, indie pop emanating from the southeast circa the mid-80s. 

01. Our Little War
02. One Thing True
03. Quinn Street
04. Cold Cold Rain
05. I Thought You Knew
06. I Remember
07. I Can't Hide
08. What I Wanted Wasn't What I Found
09. Call Your Name
10. Wedding Bells
11. Too Much in Time
12. Our Little War
13. Being Chased by a Ghost
14. Don't Come Here at Night
15. I'm Moving On
16. I Want You, I Need You
17. Same Way Tomorrow
18. Small Town Romance


FiveGunsWest said...

Super cool!

Josef Kloiber said...

Thank you !

M-----l said...

I haven't listened to these demos yet, but my copy of Bob Sings and Plays just arrived in the mail. I found out about it here, so thanks for that.

REP1974 said...

Thanks for sharing this, I just discovered Bob and the Windbreakers via Bandcamp.
I also found out that he lived in the town that I'm currently staying until his death.
I am looking forward to hearing this