YUNG WU – ” Shore Leave “

Posted: November 15, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the most overlooked and underrated albums to emerge from the Feelies universe, side project Yung Wu’s “Shore Leave” ranks highly in the group’s oeuvre, at least the equal of and in some ways superior to the three albums the Feelies released under their own name between 1985 and 1991. Yung Wu was led by singer/songwriter Dave Weckerman, who had been the drummer in the Feelies’ first lineup before being replaced by Anton Fier. Backed by Glenn Mercer and Bill Million on guitars (they also produced the album), John Baumgartner on keyboards, Brenda Sauter on bass, and Stanley Demeski on drums, Weckerman finds a midway point between the mellow, twangy rootiness of contemporaneous Feelies records like Only Life and the more tightly wound jangle of 1980’s Crazy Rhythms. Resulting songs like the title track, “Spinning,” and the quietly tense “Return to Zion” are archetypal examples of the Hoboken sound that was a mainstay of late-’80s college radio.

The album’s three covers — Neil Young’s “Powderfinger,” the Rolling Stones’ “Child of the Moon,” and “Big Day,” a Brian Eno song that originally appeared on Phil Manzanera’s solo album Diamond Head — were proudly uncool by 1987 terms, which of course only makes them cooler. Shore Leave was largely ignored at the time, selling fewer than 5,000 copies all told, but it’s a minor classic of ’80s jangle pop ripe for rediscovery.

When you’ve made one perfect record, why make another? “Shore Leave”, originally released in 1987, is Yung Wu’s sole long-player (though a covers album has circulated privately). It’s a jangle rock gem, filled with sparkling song writing, infectious rhythms and hook-laden melodies. But even though the band’s discography is brief, you know the sound: Yung Wu is basically the Feelies with percussionist Dave Weckerman stepping into the frontman role (and keyboardist John Baumgartner contributing as well). But it’s much more than just a Feelies footnote; freshly reissued this year with stellar remastering, Shore Leave is a necessary listen.

Although never released on CD at the time (in 1987, a lot of indies were still sticking exclusively to vinyl and cassettes), Shore Leave is one of many classic out of print albums on the Twin/Tone and Coyote labels now available on custom-burned CDs through the Twin/Tone website.

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