Jim Woerhle / Michael Yonkers

Borders of My Mind

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Recorded in mono in a home studio in 1973 and released in 1974, Borders of My Mind is a raw, informal collaboration between singer/songwriter/guitarist Michael Yonkers with his pre-Microminiature Love bandmate Jim Woerhle. These intimate recordings follow the more acoustic-oriented material in Yonkers' catalog. Acoustic guitar and piano are the only accompanying instruments to the vocals and roughshod harmonies presented on these sessions captured by a quarter-inch, reel-to-reel tape recorder and single bidirectional ribbon microphone. There is a warm, irreverent rapport shared between the pair, with plenty of laughter. Check the old cowboy-style-cum-psychedelic-folk of the title track, where they crack each other up almost uncontrollably at the song's end. The melody on "Story Book Kind of Madness" is indebted to Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush." "Elaine" is a tender pop song with the singers accompanied by piano and guitar, and nods to Brian Wilson's more lovelorn moments, while "Wagner" and "Monkey's Tail" are pleasurable yet slight guitar/piano instrumentals. "Emily" is tender and haunting. A finished version would have been right at home on the dark, moody Goodby Sunball cut a year earlier. The track suggests the influence of early Tim Buckley. "Lovely Lady Companion" is a spacy ballad that stretches out over eight minutes, but doesn't overstay its welcome. "Standing in the Doorway" commences with laughter, but quickly moves into darker terrain. It too might have been a welcome addition to either Goodby Sunball or Grimwood (the latter recorded in 1969, but not released until 1974). Not everything here works: "Place Called Home" and "Goin' Home" recall the folk revival with input from the psych era with mixed results. "Lonely Children" sounds like a prototype for a rock & roll song, and "Smile Awhile for Me" never quite gets to a formal idea of what it actually wishes to be. Borders of My Mind does hold real appeal as a fascinating "lost" document that reveals the songwriting and recording process at work. [This set and 1972's Michael Lee Yonkers were re-released by Drag City in 2014. They follow in the series the label began in cooperation with Galactic Zoo in 2010 with the reissue of 1977's Lovely Gold.]

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