Michael Yonkers Band - Microminiature Love

by Laurence Schiffman Rating:10 Release Date:

The Album that Refuses to Die.

Originally ready for release in 1968, rescued in a limited vinyl pressing by De Stijl records in 2002, and finally released on CD by Sub Pop in 2003, "Microminature Love" by the Michael Yonkers Band is now being recovered from the Old Album Retirement Home and touted as a nearly lost classic of Psychedelic Rock. There is a famous quote about the late 60's: Anyone who remembers them, wasn't there. I have no memory of Michael Yonkers, but I well recall the music of that period and the, shall we say, methods intended to achieve auditory bliss.

The album pushes the envelope of what was passing as psychedelic music in the late 60's; and deserves kudos for what undoubtedly influenced musicians who followed. It also unfortunately suffers a bit from a sense of self-importance and somber intensity that typifies many of the recordings of that period. It should be remembered that this was the time of the War in Vietnam which influenced many artists. Yonkers' feelings are clear in the lyrics and music of “Boy in the Sandbox” which resolves and dissolves into a chaos of pure noise.

You've got to love the jangly twangy distorted guitar sounds, and the primitive production; but there is a sameness to the sound after a while. It doesn't help that Mr. Yonkers sounds a bit like Zacherle (look him up, boys and girls) and that the music sounds like it was recorded in his bathroom.

Let's make it clear that no one listened to Psychedelic music truly believing that the lyrics would provide enlightenment after the drugs wore off. Banality is more the rule of the day:

1492 is now

Please don't ask me why or how

People are the same

People are the same

(from “Jasontown”)

or

Raise so sun can roast your head

Mold is thriving on your bread

Rats are drinking up your wine

People fat and feeling fine

(from “Microminiature Love”)

 

Understand that Lyrics are the last thing I come to in a song. I have to be sucked in by catchy hooks, memorable melodies, and emotional performance; and the album is chock full of these. I even became sort of nostalgic for the ping-pong stereophonic gimmickry of bouncing from one channel to another. In 1968 this was almost de rigeur.

I wasn't nearly so thrilled by the tribute/cloning of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze guitar riff on “My House”. The problem isn't the similarity of the pattern; but that Yonkers isn't remotely in the same league as Hendrix as a guitarist. In fairness, no one else was either.

Bands from the late sixties were almost obligated to pay tribute to the Blues; and psychedelic bands were required to include a long drum solo, some say to allow the other band members to leave the stage to replenish the drugs that might we wearing off. The Yonkers' band, attempting to satisfy at least the first requirement, plays “Scam Jam Blues” that has energy but few decent chops.

So, is “Microminature Love” an interesting historical relic of a long distant irrelevant period of music, or is it an eminently listenable album that still resonates nearly 50 years after it was released? Choose the latter. It has its flaws, but it is wonderfully fun to hear and a tribute to an artist who I understand is nearly as old as I am and still working despite some significant physical setbacks. The album deserves a clear 4 out of 5 stars without any need for 1968's mood enhancers.

 

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • No comments found