Monday, March 5, 2012
Michael Yonkers with The Blind Shake 'Period'
Michael Yonkers has been making music under the radar for 50 years in his home town of Minneapolis. Starting out strong his first album ‘Microminiature Love’ was recorded and initially set to be released on Sire 1968, for reasons that still remain unclear the piece was shelved. Yonkers recorded seven songs reflecting the psychedelic garage sounds of the time with traces of music that made impression in his formative years like Trashmen and Link Wray. Discouraged by Sire's reaction to 'Microminiature Love' the group disbanded that same year and Yonkers retreated to his family home where he began recording in the basement. Experimenting with synths, tape loops and his now famous home-made theramin Yonkers song-writing experienced a shift playing out Pentangle inspired loner-folk songs that would become second album 'Grimwood', a complete polar opposite to his debut. In retrospect rejection from Sire benefited Yonkers as he could enjoy flexibility in writing music that perhaps working for a bigwig label may not have afforded him. As a result going through his catalogue offers one surprise after the next with Yonkers tirelessly exploring different avenues of rock, blues and folk.
A few years after this album was recorded Yonkers suffered an accident while working in a warehouse that would leave him rendered in debilitating pain for the rest of his life. In 1971 a wall of computer equipment fell on him breaking his back. While in hospital further complications arose when Yonkers had an allergic reaction to the dye that was injected into his spine for use in an xray. To this day he continues to receive treatment to help with mobility and alleviate discomfort including dance-therapy, yet reading articles on Yonkers one common factor threads through pieces written on him; he is not defeated by the accident, he would rather talk about the next song he's going to write.
De Stijl reissued 'Microminiature Love' with 6 bonus tracks and 'Grimwood' a few years back catapulting Michael Yonkers virtually unheard of catalogue into the underground limelight. Drag City followed suit unearthing previously unreleased album 'Lovely Gold' originally recorded in 1977 on a "tube tape", a home-made device Yonkers built out of discarded machine parts. In the midst of these albums surfacing Michael Yonkers began playing with local band The Blind Shake and a simple jamming session turned into 2007 album 'Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons'. S-S Records have put out follow up album for Michael Yonkers with The Blind Shake adding to the now historic and well loved Yonkers musical cannon. 'Period' is a psychedelic blues record tinged with the 60s garage rock from his roots, filled with pounders sounding comparatively meaner and more dense -- recommended for anyone who likes Psandwich. With so many worthy labels supporting him, now, is the perfect time to get stuck into Michael Yonkers' records.
More reading, links to hear songs and mail order can be found here --
De Stijl Drag City
Michael Yonkers "Puppeting" from 'Microminiature Love'