Beau O'Reilly's "100 Reasons to buy the Maestro Subgum Box Set"
100 Reasons Why You Should Buy, Be Interested in, Investigate, the Maestro Subgum and the Whole Box!
by Beau O'Reilly
1. No Matter Who You Are You Have Never Heard All Of These Songs
2. JIGGLE THE CONSTABLE The sound is great, rescued from the poor mastering job of the original vinyl pressing by Leigh and Jon at Uvulittle. As good as LOST LOST LOST is, and it is, JIGGLE is more cohesive and charming.
3. JIGGLE Here Bob’s trumpet, with Blair shadowing him on baritone like a happy puppy. He swings and plays more Dixieland then rock n’ roll.
4. MORE JIGGLE: The Jenny songs, “Simone” and “Skit Skit Skat” rock, the lyrics spin stories and she leads the vocal charge with such ease. And the piano drum horn groove of these tracks; we had played them a lot before recording them, and it shows.
5. MORE JIGGLE: Bob’s “Face” song is so cool and surprising, Bob’s driving acoustic guitar against Blair’s tuba, the pared-down weary lyric, Colm and Jenny’s tight harmony.
6. Ned and guest Randy Farr’s percussion throughout the disc.
7. Colm’s sly lead vocal on “Nookieland.”
8. Bryn Magnus’s tremendously funny lyrics to “Nookieland.”
9. The momentum and group cohesion of “Life Outta Whack”
10. MISTY MOUNTAIN — Kate sings this great!!! And the band guests, particularly Eddie Carlson on bass, thicken the arrangement without weighing it down.
11. The vocal coda, which repeats and repeats: “And If There’s a Tunnel Inside of Me,” to end Beau and Miki’s “4 Steps.” Survivor triumphant .
12. The blunt strange truth of Beau and Miki’s “Love is Dead.”
13. Colm’s original cover art, which transfers well to disc size. Jiggle is the bomb.
14. The Box set — The Box Itself, how it feels, the way it opens...
15. The packaging, lovingly put together by Jon Hain, using old Colm gig posters, photos and interesting liner notes from yours truly and Jon Hain, and a history of the band from Ned O’Reilly.
16. DIAMONDS IN THE DUMPSTER The original tapes were in bad shape, edits had aged and deteriorated, again restored amazingly by Leigh and Jon.
17. The songs. The set is delightful and at, times, grand. The great song “We’re All Smiles” has Beau, Kate and Jenny each taking a verse for the first time, a cool Miki tune and a great horn-like bass line from Steve Hashimoto.
18. STUFF AWAY struts and swings ominous with cool bass and drums, Beau and Ned O’s twin vocals, Jenny’s flute and producer James Bond’s sax.
19. THE JUDY GARLAND SONG is a fine vocal from me and Joe Huppert on piano, tracking each other through a great Greg Brown story, with Pat Fleming’s mood beauty guitar.
20. Kate’s leads on Joe’s French song and Hashimoto’s bass on “Life Atonal.”
21. Ned’s lead vocal (so bass!) on BOMBS ALONG THE SEINE and the choral vocal there, how well James recorded that.
22. COME ON PETE is Colm’s sweet kid lead against Jenny’s sweet lady lead.
23. Ned’s lyrical turns on UPWARDLY MOBILE, Joe Huppert’s piano throughout.
24. If you are like me you have forgotten how wild and satisfying STORMIN’ AND A FEVER and HOT OLD WADDA are, or maybe you never knew because your roommate’s boom box stretched the tape, but here it is and it is something. We always called them “the double amazement tapes” and recorded them all in one big swoop. It starts with “Davey,” Bob’s multiple trumpets and Jenny’s lead vocal, Blair’s tuba pumping the bass line, so good.
25. Side One of STORMIN’ AND A FEVER rocked. Ned’s drums drive the art songs: “Trouble,” “Bobby,” “Oilslick.”
26. BOTTLE UP BABY is us at our most raw and experimental — the group vocals are rocking now.
27. Miki leads DOGGY with such good cheer
28. STORMIN’ Side Two is ripe with great ballads. See: me and Miki’s “Jeanie.”
29. Ditto HABIT IS HUNGER, the first song me and Mr. Greenberg wrote together.
30. Jenny’s CIRCUMSTANCES. “Man tit, no shit”!!! Which features some great body percussion from Ned.
31. OH MY GOD IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL with everybody going a capella and “Funny Little Love,” Kate’s best recorded lead and Bob’s trumpet playing off of her, “Goddam the Empty Sky,” which is emotionally massive, an anthem for all us existentialists; the sweetness of “Old Man Moon,” the odd pop yearning of “Planets and Stars.” This side I would play at any “Best of Maestro” set! Michael Greenberg really comes out here as a songwriter and a player.
32. HOT OLD WADDA Side One is us in our most cabaret song mode. Ned plays a lot of percussion and the piano leads the way, the great “Jane Says,” and “Love Never Showed Up” from Jenny and Bryn, character-driven songs “Operatic Obsession,” “What Did He Do,” “Turnin Wheel” “Ape Date,” — with Colm’s I-am-sixteen-and-I-give-a-shit-out-of-the-corner-of-my-mouth vocal — Bob’s “123” and “Gotta Lotta Love” — so funny! — Jenny’s feisty, irreverent “Cherub in the Alley” and “The Hard On Song,” Blair’s gentle vocal on “Sweat An Inch.” Hot Old Wadda is one great song after another.
33. A SOFT FIST IN A HARD PLACE Okay, okay, fess up: who are the three people who actually knew about this when it came out? Or the other seven who actually listened to it later? What you have been missing is the soundtrack to our musical, “Careening Is a Skill.” The best things about it? Jenny’s melodies throughout, Paul Amandes’s vocal arrangements, James Bond’s wonderful recordings of the choral stuff — no overdubs! — and the vocal performance of that chorus (which is mostly Ned, Jenny, Kate, Julie Jordan, my brother Beano, and a bit of me), Jenny and Michael Greenberg teaming up as songwriters with “Ate Her Life” and “Better Off Dead,” my and Jenny’s lyrical play throughout. There are lots of nice musical surprises: the strings and Jenny’s flute, James Bond’s horn touches, Eddie Balchowsky and Miki’s three-handed piano improv coming out of “Ate Her Life.” Some of my and Jenny’s oddest songwriting together: “Give You Have,” “Lips Of the Abyss,” the original versions of “Careening,” “Darkness,” and “Davey,” all staples in our live shows... There are some cringes — the strings shriek at one another here and there, and I would love to redo all my vocal entrances... But this is cool and rare.
34. THE RARES DISC Very hard for me not to put this at the top of the list. Some unevenness of sounds because of wide range of source recordings. Turn up the bass and ride the volume a bit — it’ll make the whole disc sound better. Don’t let me shove everything out of the way and put Rares at the top of the reasons to buy this, but I am listening to it constantly, just so you know. The fact of all this unreleased stuff returning to my mythical turntable is amazing.
35. MORE RARES: The 70’s version of the band — me, my sister Cecilie and the pianist Kit Keasey (who wrote “Turnin Wheel” and “Job With the Mob”) — are represented by two songs. “Burn The Money,” with cool harmonies and whimsical language over a driving piano figure, is in many ways The Maestro Thing that would always stay with us; “Nights the Wind” is me and Cec singing Brother Ned’s song, with Kit’s piano playing off of our old pal Court Dorsey’s harmonica. Me and Cec really singing together here! Recorded by Jeff Levy, my sound pal from the Juicy John Pink’s days. Kit was a great pianist and she sounds good here. There are about twenty more songs in the archives from this era... “Burn the Money” was a staple through the next version of the band.
36. MORE RARES: The rock n’ roll post-Kit and Cec version of the band is represented here by a handful of songs. “I’m Not Like Anybody Else,” us at our most smirky anarchist strutting selves, Lefty popping off and each of the players taking a turn...
37. I’M THE DISEASE and AUTOMATE ME, our rock n’ roll single. The band drives: Larry’s bass, Bernie’s guitar, John Herndon’s drums; this was a formidable band live and me and Ned sing great together.
38. RARES makes a big jump here: “Animal Energy” and “Kissamee” are both horn-driven songs from the Mark Holman-on-trombone and Bob-on-trumpet era of the band. These songs come from the Iron Horse Tape in ’92. The horns were always good, but Mark’s trombone made parts soar, with Bob playing at his best. Beau (me) sings the lead on “Energy,” Colm on “Kissamee.” This period is when the three-vocal attack with Jenny was at its most idiosyncratic and inventive.
39. EAT THE BEAUTY is all three of us here, as opposed to the Don’t Flirt version, where Jenny takes the lead throughout. Ned and Miki had been playing together for about five years at this point, and they are really in sync. The horns smoke. These tracks are all live.
40. LILI GRACE Great Bryn lyric on “Lili.” Bryn Magnus was our secret weapon: lyrical arcane poetical twisty images, usually set to Jenny’s music. See any Bryn-Jenny song — “Jane Says,” “Prairie Night,” “Prayers for the Undoing of Spells.” One of my favorite writers, Mr. Magnus. Whatever he’s writing, he should send it to Jenny to set to music. Special special special! Hearing all these songs in the Box reminds me why.
41. BLUE One of Jenny’s great songs from this period. The band is stretching its jazz chops here, Mark Messing’s bassoon off of Jenny’s flute. “Blue” is a great song and there are even better versions, post-horns, in the archives where Jenny alone, vocally moody and heartbreaking, really leans into the flute. That’s the version I listen to, and if you own the Box you can access the archives and listen to it too.
42. LEFT LUNG COLLAPSED is a rare one. Mr. Greenberg and I never wrote a better song, and Colm sings the hell out of it. Cool horn part.
43. CAGE TO BLISS into THE DOG is a straight take, no overdubs. “The Dog” is restored to its proper place, yapping at the end of “Cage,” which remains one of my favorite pieces of work as a writer — ‘cause it’s true and a pop song, ‘cause it uses “Gotta structure, gotta system, a cage to keep my bliss in” as a chorus and gets away with it.
44. SPENCER SUNDEL Spencer recorded all of the just-mentioned tracks and most of At the Warthog Museum. He was a master at on-the-spot mixes, usually done in mono, direct to DAT. I can always tell a Spencer recording. The balance of horns, off-lead and multi-lead vocals morphing into backing vocal parts, the invisible bass sounds that he found with the lower keys of Miki’s piano off of Ned’s bass drum. Sundel was a card-carrying member of the band and toured and recorded with us most of our last 4 years together. He rarely played — that’s his Armageddon guitar on “Seven” — but he made us sound good. Particularly hard when you have multiple lead singers who keep shifting on stage.
45. RARES’s final live tracks are after Colm, Spencer and the horns left: demo rehearsals of “Your Dreams Are Bleeding Over Into Mine,” “Lover Moon,” “Wake Up on the Floor,” with the instrumental trio of Ned, Michael and bassist Liz Payne. Michael plays with great freedom and relaxation, some jazz-like stretching here. Ned always wanted to play with a bass player, and with Liz we got that. Most of the vocals were just me and Jenny, less composed, more like siblings singing off of each other. Colm always said this was his favorite period of the band.
46. The last two live songs are actually from The Betsy Years, a band that Ned, Colm, Liz, and sometimes Spencer had. The tracks are both Maestro recordings, though, with Colm tearing up “Wall of Youth” by Jenny, and “Jeanie” by me and Michael; Michael sits in here, and the songs were recorded at a Maestro show. It’s a chance to kick it with Colm, the Clem of the Bogs, so...
47. STICKY TICKY LIQUID The remix, from Fot Records, “Sticky Ticky” is that great synchrony of Ned’s body percussion, Jenny’s lead and Bob and Colm’s harmonies, with the rest of us fluttering around... The remix is fun, reverby.
48. AT THE WARTHOG MUSEUM If you were a Maestro fan, you have this record. Seventeen songs, three quarters of it live. All of those were recorded by Spencer Sundel. This is my favorite Maestro record. The remastering brings out some nice detail. Even the four studio tracks, which felt like a compromise at the time, feel great here. Rick Barnes recorded the studio stuff and we mixed with him — we always mixed with the engineer, learning on our feet, insisting on consensus. The whole thing catches the band at its prime.
49. MORE WARTHOG MUSEUM First, the design and cover stuff. This is the one where we felt cocky. ‘You want to know what we are doing? This is what we are doing!’ All clever and smart and risky. From Bob’s anagram respelling of our band’s name for the title to Colm’s fish cover. So, the songs...
50. HEY JACK God, this was a wonderful time to be a writer... All of the writers in this band were good lyricists, and we pushed and cheered each other on to make songs that tickled and investigated the odd ways that people have with each other. “Jack” starts with Lefty’s germanesque greeting, then in comes this great little drum figure with horns and flutes. The multi-lead singer that was always a part of the Maestro sound, the harmonies swinging in with this three-voice distinction that me and Jen and Colm really perfected on this record here, Bob always coming up with a harmony part that bridged the gaps, and the way the horns swing back and forth, and Bob’s trumpet break and then Mark’s “I stumbled into a phone booth, beg pardon,” indeed.
51. MISTER MUCKRACKER One of my favorite songs to sing along with, even though I don’t sing a note here and never have done it live. Colm’s matter-of-fact, mournful reporting vocals, and Bob and Jenny’s clever vocal parts. Miki’s first ominous chords and restraint throughout the song. Michael played electric piano on most of this record, which can often be a limitation for a piano player, but on this record Miki finds all the rhythmic support edges to the instrument, rarely taking solos, in favor of letting the horns shine...
52. STICKY TICKY LIQUID Go on and check those drawers, “CHECK IT CHECK IT!” Jenny’s paean to the joys of menstruation, all joyfully belted out with her all male band mates. That Jenny-Ned-Bob-Colm percussive a capella thing... Us at our most happy.
53. LATE NIGHT MARY Horns drive — Mark Holman on trombone, which means it was great. Colm storms through the verses and delivers the chorus like the pro he had become, drums and piano in the groove. From the Iron Horse Tape, live of course. “Under late night covers she’ll go looking for lovers, soon she’ll be sneaking back home...” Me and Mr. Greenberg, writing together like a glove and a fist at this point.
54. CONSTANT ERECTION An odd song, even by my standards. Kinda truthful though, and funny, truthful and funny.
55. MADMAN ON THE BUS Jenny hates this song, even though she added one line: “She shouts in Latin, conjugating her disgust,” which is a great line that I would never write. My line was, “She shouts in Latin, finger pops her pus,” which is so good I ought to build something out of it, like a moldy shed or a log cabin. Bob plays cool guitar, and Mark does both horns with a soprano sax solo that’s almost pop. Good, hooky music from Mr. Greenberg. I later would sing all the verses in Hidden Chronicles shows with Mr. Greenberg, but here we take turns, and we are having a good old time doing so.
56. AMAZY GRACE I love this song, singing falsetto off Jenny and Colm, especially the chorus: “Amazy Grace was sweet, she recognized her own name.” Listen next time for the story. Jenny stories are always beautiful, weirdly touching in their vulnerable search for grace — this is one of those!
57. LAZINESS AND IGNORANCE Horns’ night out on this one, Bob and Mark really stretching. I sing it alone as I always did; in the Joe Tech-Larry Jones days, it sometimes stretched to 20 minutes, with me falling over backwards to end the set... BAH BA BAAAAHHH!!! This is a Greg Brown song, and it’s actually “Ignorance and Laziness.” My bad, I fucked up the title years ago. I have really studied this as a piece of writing a few times, with the thought of writing something comparable, but I can’t do it. It’s one of the ones where my hat is off to Greg and it’s staying off... You’ll find more Lazinesses in the archives if you buy the box. They were all different.
58. TATTOOS ARE HOW YOU TELL So, Bob Jacobson is such a funny man, and his songs... We always cleared things out to make room for a new one. Bob sings it like a Cheshire cat.
59. WHY? Jenny: “Sell it boys...” A bad-girl-slacker tale of sloth and indolence, with Jenny and the horns working off each other like they are on a hot date in a boxing ring.
60. BLUE DEVIL Miki and John Shaw lyrics, back and forth leads from Colm and Jenny, a very hooky song.
61. PRAIRIE NIGHT This is a Bryn Magnus lyric. One of the great things about Maestro, besides having three terrific lyricists in the band, is that we worked regularly with Bryn Magnus and John Starrs, who both could write like a dream on lots of different topics. It’s because of Michael Greenberg and Jenny Magnus that their work was turned into songs, so I don’t get to pat myself on the back, but I dig it. P.S.: I defy you to think of another band that has three good lyricists as good as me and Bob and Jenny. And don’t even talk to me about the Beatles, because Ringo was so far ahead of the rest of them that they never would have made it without him.
62. LAST GASP Pretty much a Miki lyric. A pretty good one, too.
63. FAT RED MELON One of the few songs that me and Bob wrote together. Does anybody have a bootleg copy of “Where’s My Tracheotomy Tube”? We’ve been looking for that one. I wrote the words. It was always a big soaring triumphant chorus live and the recording catches that , and Bob played pretty cool guitar on it.
64. WHAT CAN BE WANTED Jenny, again: “Sell it boys...” A bad-girl-slacker tale of hunger and desire, with Jenny and the horns working off each other like they are on a hot date in a boxing ring. Yup.
65. TROUBLE I think the only song I ever participated in that was written like this. Me, Jenny, Bryn, and our roommate Rachel X Weisman , each wrote a verse, sitting around on a Sunday night. Jenny sang it to the rest of the band, and everybody just made up the tune on the spot.
66. As good as you think LOST LOST LOST is if you’re a Maestro fan, it’s probably that and better. It was built around some of our older tunes, as well as some of the things we were writing that month, so it has this complete feel to it, and this new burst of energy feel at the same time. Well recorded and mixed.
67. YOU’RE A DANDY / STINK Weird-ass medley that nobody ever wants to play anymore, I guess ‘cause it’s hard. The horns drive, Jenny tears it up, the rest of us not far behind.
68. BAMBOO GURU When Colm was a little kid, say 10 or 11, he made a fake album cover for a fake band that he had with his friends in grammar school. It was a beautiful cover. One of the song titles was “Bamboo Guru.” I wrote the words, off of the title, in one sitting. And it’s the closest I’ve ever come to having really something to say about God-with-a-big-G. The Bamboo Guru would often appear in our live concerts, with Lefty describing him as this tiny little being that could hop into your inner ear. I’ve never heard anyone sing it except Colm, who sang it so great that I wouldn’t even try.
69. LOVE ELEVATOR At this period it was really great for me, the challenge of writing lyrics to songs that would then be sung by other members of the band. “Love Elevator” I wrote for Kate to sing, but the story came from Ned the drummer’s sadness over breaking up with a girlfriend while working room service at a fancy hotel. Lovely melody from Mr. Greenberg.
70. EARLY NUNNLY Usually makes it on everybody’s list of favorite Maestro Subgum songs. “Above and below, above and below, Early Nunnly knew he knew what only a few could know...” It’s on my 200 Favorites list (See Chicago Arts Journal, Issue 1).
1. RAINY DAY Oh man, is this a good song. I wrote it in a doorway, completely soaked by the rain. I walked over to Miki’s house and he sat down and figured out chords to it.
72. LULLABY FROM A WEIRD PLACE I believe that this is officially a Jenny and Miki song, although I always think of it as a Jenny song. Jenny wrote it after seeing a sad play across the street at another theater. And Stephanie Rearick from Uvulittle used to do it in her shows. It’s not on my 200 Favorites list, because everything can’t be.
73. RISING LIKE STEAM Written the day after our friend Eddie Balchowsky hopped or fell in front of a train.Its his story . I really can’t talk about this song, except to say that if you’re a songwriter and you only get to write one with a collaborator that you’re really writing well with, this is the one. Break my heart, baby.
74. THAT’S SOME SERIOUS This song is such a flip from “Rising Like Steam.” It’s a caper song about robbing a hotdog stand, which I never really did, but probably should have. It’s hooky as hell, too. In the early days of Crooked Mouth, we often did this song. If you have a band, you should do it too.
75. MICKY TAKES THE WHEEL Mr. Greenberg had such a distinctive way of playing — the Miki bounce, we called it — that sometimes in those days he would just take off. “micky takes the wheel” is just him taking off in the studio, without any of us realizing he was doing it.
76. DOWNTOWN Written by the great Greg Brown. I just sang it on Saturday night. I’ve been singing it off and on for 30 years, sometimes with Colm, sometimes with my brother Ned. It’s one of the 4 or 5 songs I do that people always ask for, and goddamit I didn’t write a word or a note. In the archives there’s an earlier, much more rock n’ roll recording of it with the Larry Jones-Joe Tech version of the band.
77. CHAOS AND RUIN This is a John Shaw song. John was quite a songwriter in his own right, and had a band with Kate called the Wild Onion Rhythm Babies. When we were making the album we really wanted another Kate lead, and this was the one. A beautiful song.
78. PONY TAIL Written by the great Bob Jacobson. I just sang it on Saturday night. I’ve been singing it off and on for 20 years. It’s one of the 4 or 5 songs I do that people always ask for. And goddamnit I didn’t write a word or a note. Yup.
79. SEVEN Written by me and Joe Tech Huppert in the early days of the rock and roll version of the band. We played it often then, recorded it at Acme, but it wasn’t until this version of the band that the song really found its way. Spencer recorded the electric guitar part on the night the bombs started falling in the first Iraq war. The song has all that dread, fear, survival.
80. SOONER OR LATER Jenny’s big Armageddon song of the period. She’s running like hell, with something chasing after her, and the rest of us are just trying to keep up.
81. RUBBER HOSE This is the one I wrote with Greenberg specifically for Jenny to sing. It’s a love song about people who are losers in this life, never get any, but get sucked up through a rubber hose into the infinite, where they get it on nightly.
82. PRAYERS FOR THE UNDOING OF SPELLS Bryn wrote this as a closing song of a play by the same name that we did, Jenny wrote the music and sang it. It’s as good as anything we ever did, and it’s on my list of 200 Favorites (CAJ Issue 1).
83. You can join the DON’T FLIRT controversy! So, Jenny Magnus, one of the principal writers of this album, declares this to be our best work; Michael Greenberg finds it almost unlistenable, says he can never get through the whole album; Jon Hain, the curator of this project, finds the digital quality of the sound worrisome; Beau wishes that he had re-done the vocals. He sounds beat up and tired (he was, I guess); the band was losing members rapidly: Bob, Spencer, Mark and Colm all left pretty much together (although Colm continued to be there, often doing sound, singing his parts loudly from the soundboard). Jeremy Manier, the rarely-mentioned member of the band who played cello and bass (quite well, usually), was fired by Michael in a fit of pique for the classic reason a guy gets fired from a band, “musical differences,” and replaced by Liz Payne on bass for our final run. So, what gives with this album, musically?
84. CAREENING IS A SKILL still has Bob, Mark and Colm. The song often started the shows then; it’s fast and careening here, great. Ned, Michael, and Jenny all in the pocket.
85. DUST AND SELF DISGUST has everyone too, with a frenetic and frightening lead vocal from Colm. Some of my darkest writing, and a horn throwdown.
86. Jenny’s harmonies often replace the group’s — compare “Eat the Beauty” here with the one on Rares. This is when Jenny really perfected her style of stacking harmony on harmonies. She still likes to record like this.
87. THE NO SONG dates back to before I met Jenny. We put it in Bryn’s play The Weirdly Sisters, and here Jenny sings it with Jeremy playing a walking bass line on cello, Ned echoing the “No, like Yoko” vocal line. This was before anybody thought Yoko was cool for any reason… Jenny knew, though.
88. HERMAPHRODITE An even earlier Jenny song, and even simpler. Jenny always liked working with Ned — they were both percussionists and were interested in being sparse here. Both of these Jenny songs are on my 200 Favorites list (Chicago Arts Journal, Issue 1). Colm plays piano here, a rare moment.
89. CRAWLING TOWARDS YOU Everybody always figured me for these feelings ‘cause I sang it and was ravaged by heartbreak daily at this time, but really Mr. Greenberg wrote most of it. I wrote the biblical verse. One of my good vocals. The horns kick, break your fucking heart if you listen too closely.
90. What I find on repeated listening back is that my tired and sort of beaten vocals work on some things and not on others. On RATS COME OUT IN THE WATER, it seems right, and this song is so huge that a strong vocal might even overwhelm it. It lays the lyrics out clearly, and the moodiness of the arrangement.
91. On the other hand, WOMEN WEAR THEIR DRESSES OUT is still one of my favorite songs from this era, and I still perform it all the time because I think my vocal sucks on this recording. If you listen to it too, you can have an opinion, or you can come to one of my current shows, and I’ll be happy to sing it for you.
92. FLIM FLAM LOVER Great vocal from me, yay me.
93. DEATH RAG is where I really notice the loss of Colm vocally. It’s Ned the drummer who does the third vocal part, but I dig this arrangement, with Jenny taking part of the lead and me taking the rest of it. I love this song, and still do it live every time I get a chance. Probably one of the 4 or 5 best things that Mr. Greenberg and I did together, writing-wise.
94. This probably feels grotesquely maniacal, and it is. If you listen to all of this, you can tell me how I could’ve done this part of it better. You’re invited to have an opinion, even a strong opinion, and that’s what I call opportunity.
95. ORACULAR VERNACULAR is great. The bass clarinet on it, which I believe is Ken Vandermark, really rocks, as it does on “Johnny Craze.” The rhythm section is really tight on both of these songs, and Jenny is having a good time. What’s not to like?
96. HENRY, HANK, AND JUNE is the best work from the forgotten man, Jeremy Manier, on the cello. I often think about this song, and have tried to recreate it as a whole play a couple of times. There’s a good, clear story line, and my vocal does not suck.
97. DREAMT WE WERE I sure do like it when me and Jenny sing the “Don’t misplace me, please” part, ‘cause it’s so vulnerable. And the dreams, which are the main part of the verse, were all real. And Mr. Greenberg did a nice setting on the piano.
98. LEFTY LUDES and the spoken sections on At the Warthog Museum are all built out of Lefty improvised monologues. They’re snatches, really, mostly done by Ned, the drummer, where he would take a bit and play with it in the studio. I never loved these, but now listening back I think they are nice snapshots of not just the Lefty language but of sound experiments of that era — tape loops, random radio sounds intermixed — edited with a nice restraint by Ned. Still, I felt then and feel now like the longer Lefty monologues were really the piece of art, but they never seemed to fit onto the musical records. If you buy the box set, it gives you access to the archives, where you can hear those long monologues for yourself, and you can decide.
99. The 30 or so live shows in the archives really show the range of the band, from its earliest days to its conclusions. In some ways it’s a much better way to experience Maestro Subgum and the Whole than the albums ever were. And when you buy the box set, you can hear that for yourself.
100. There’s at least a whole album of unreleased stuff, studio-wise and live-wise, that I think should be in every home in America, including “Watermelon,” which we recorded for Ponk, and “Private Joke,” which me and Colm sang and we gave to Ponk for a compilation. And a number of unreleased Michael and Beau songs, in demo forms. And “Hundred Bucks a Pop,” by Jeff Kowalkowski, that me and Jenny and Jeff recorded in the last official version of Maestro Subgum, which was a trio. As well as a genuine pile of stuff from the Kit and Beau and Cecilie sessions in Madison, that was never put out in any form. Plus some early rockin’ versions of “Downtown” and “Eat This,” recorded at Acme Studios, with the Larry Jones, Joe Tech, and Ned O’Reilly version of the band. If you buy this box set, this will help me in urging Jon Hain to release more.
So, what are you waiting for?