Michael Yonkers

Michael Lee Yonkers

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Recorded in 1972 and not released until 1974, Michael Lee Yonkers is the singer/songwriter and guitarist's "country" album. Containing 13 tracks, the set credits him with playing, singing, producing, and engineering in his home studio, though there are uncredited others on backing vocals and in the studio audience to simulate a live gig. Growing up in Minnesota, Yonkers was certainly exposed to an abundance of country radio and its musical tradition. While his rock and folk records reflect different sides of his musical persona with a consistency that provides a definite signature, Michael Lee Yonkers is perhaps his most outside recording. Most if not all of these songs are either send-ups or emulations. The opener, "An Easy Goin' Country Guy," features the swinging country rockabilly of Webb Pierce with satirically stereotyped lyrics (think the Stonewall Jackson's trucker songs) and great guitar effects. "My Sally" is a melancholy narrative love song à la the Louvin Brothers -- until the last chorus, where Yonkers just turns it all upside down lyrically. "The Nice Boy" emulates the Everly Brothers' early years while decoding the meaning of "Wake Up Little Susie." "Funboots" is pure psychobilly, a demented love song that weaves together folk melodies and Leon Payne's warped sense of humor. "Furnace Springs" combines the yodel of Jimmie Rodgers, the square dance style of Uncle Dave Macon, and Charlie Feathers' spacy rockabilly. "Donald Wheeler" is a Johnny Cash-esque narrative tragedy, with biting social satire disguised as a morality tale. "She Can Cry Her Tears Alone" is dark, rambling, bluesy country & western. Closer "Come A Long" weaves together Hank Snow's style of inclusive storytelling and Ferlin Husky's sense of swagger. Of all the albums in Yonkers' catalog, Michael Lee Yonkers is easily the most bizarre, but it's also among the most compelling. His reverence for the tradition is obvious even as his rebellion against the culture it represents is prevalent. [This set was re-released by Drag City/Galactic Zoo along with Borders of My Mind by Yonkers and Jim Woerhle. They're part of a series of home studio-recorded offerings that began with the reissue of Lovely Gold in 2010.]

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