Michael Yonkers Band-Microminiature Love (1968/2003)
"Just when you figured that every worthwhile rock nugget from the late sixties had already been searched out and unearthed, along comes "Microminature Love" by The Michael Yonkers Band, a previously-unreleased, heretofore-unknown masterpiece from 1968. I could tell you that this disc marries Velvet Undergroundish melodies with odd Sonic Youth-like tunings & guitar experimentation and Link Wray/Sonics garage-bluesrock blamblam ... but such descriptions still wouldn't do it justice, because Yonkers is far more original than any hybridization of other styles. He is sui generis. This disc makes me want to grab people by the lapel and scream "YOU MUST HEAR THIS!"
Here's the story in brief: Yonkers and his band recorded the first seven songs on the disc for a proposed album to be released on Sire Records, but the album was shelved. These songs were, incredably, recorded in a single hour in a small Minnesota studio. The sound is rough, but listenable and the performances are great. The six "bonus cuts" were recorded in 1969 in Yonkers basement, and are more experimental in nature. Since then Yonkers has continued to be active in music, despite indifference to his music and a near-fatal industrial accident in 1970 that has left him a semi-invalid to this day.
Yonker's songwriting is strong- he can hold his own against any contemporary you might name. His riffs are minimalistic, but not simplistic.His lyrics are also top-notch, dealing in complex symbolism yet complete with snappy lines.
"Jasontown" which opens the disc is the most accessable track, with a pleasant folky strum which turns dischordant by verse's end. The title track is pinned to a heavy bloozrawk riff that wouldn't be out of place in a Cream jam, but Yonkers' quavering voice and avant-tuned riffage keep the song miles away from any 60s cliche. "Puppeting" sports a catchy riff and psychologically astute lyrics. "Smile Awhile" is a pounding rocker that Sonic Youth oughta cover.
Two of the best songs deal with war, as Vietnam was obviously on any young American's mind at the time. "Kill The Enemy" deals with the feelings of a young man being asked to kill. A flag-draped "God" sardonically assures the young man that if he survives combat, that he will then be "old enough to vote". In "Boy In The Sandbox" layers of imagery tell a story of loss in the Vietnam war(a boy playing with a toy soldier, the same boy as a young man buried in an ememy battleground, his widow holding the toy soldier as she reads his last letter). I may have made this sound melodramatic and sappy, but it's not: it's frightening, powerful and intense (plus it ends with a guitar distortion/tremolo/echo splooge that would make Jimi scratch his head in wonderment)."
This album is fucking nuts considering the time period, sound, experimentation, and so on. How this album went unreleased for 35 years is beyond me. Rejoice in the internet age, fair travelers Smile for a while
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