Monday, December 5th, 2005
This Rough Magic
Taunton, Massachussetts’ Wheat never got big enough for a lost album story to take on mythic proportions, but the unreleased version of their last album (so far) Per Second, Per Second, Per Second Every Second certainly attained minor Holy Grail status for me over the last couple years. For those unfamiliar with the Wheat story, check out this post and get up to speed. Anyway, thanks to one of my readers, I recently came into possession of the mastered version of the album that was originally to be released by Nude Records before they went belly up, allowing me the opportunity to finally compare and contrast the two versions instead of just imagining what the original record was like.
What’s interesting is that the Nude version (henceforth referred to as PS-N of the album isn’t THAT far removed from the officially-released Aware version (now dubbed PS-A). My analogy would be it’s the same guy, but forced to stand up straight, comb his hair and have his clothes dry-cleaned and pressed. And while it looks good on him, you can see he’s itching to let it all hang loose again. Even if the Nude version had come out as originally intended, there would surely have still been fans who would have complained about the slick production values. Some of the differences are subtle, like replacing grainy synth sounds with proper pianos or whatnot, and some differences are more pronounced like the all-new anthemic chorus in “Closer To Mercury”. The quirky vocals that defined the original “Hey So Long (Ohio)” were redone completely and offbeat numbers like “We Will Rock” were dropped completely. Being able to compare the two records is particularly interesting in that you can practically see the list of “notes” that the A&R guys handed Wheat after signing them, but it also puts PS-A in a kinder light because you can see how much of the band’s shift in sound was theirs and theirs alone. But all in all, I think I prefer the Nude version. What can I say? I like the rough edges.
But you know, I probably wouldn’t have been so vocal about my distaste for PS-A when it was released if it had simply omitted the re-recorded version of “Don’t I Hold You”. I can accept retconning in comic books and TV shows, but not beloved pop music moments. The glossed-up version of that perfect song felt more like a slap in the face to old Wheat fans than any extra major label buff and shine… But that’s all in the past now. The “everyday i said a prayer for kathy and made a one inch square – 2006” message that appeared on their homepage recently gives hope that Wheat’s hiatus will be over sooner rather than later. In the meantime, Ricky Brennan has just released Elate, the debut EP from his new/other band Duresse, the whole of which is streamable off their website.
I’ve taken the liberty of ripping a couple tracks from PS-A and posting them alongside the PS-N versions that Wheat has posted on the audio page of their website, so you too can comparison shop, and there’s also a live show archive here.
As I mentioned in this week’s MP3 Of The Week blurb, So Much Silence has been working overtime converting radio sessions to friendlier MP3 format. His latest feat was converting the NPR stream of last week’s Calexico and Iron & Wine show in DC. Check out his posts for Calexico’s set, Iron & Wine’s set and both acts together.
One of the tracks from the new Trespassers William album Having topped this weekend’s edition of Anti-Hit List. Though the album isn’t out till February 28, John Sakamoto included an all-too brief clip in his podcast of the same list. The TW clip starts around the 12:30 mark. PS, John – Trespassers William are now proudly based out of Seattle.
np – Explosions In The Sky / The Rescue