MICHAEL YONKERS – Michael Lee Yonkers LP

Album: Michael Lee Yonkers

Artist: Michael Yonkers

Label: Drag City

Release Date: January 21, 2014

Michael Yonkers 1-21

www.dragcity.com

BY RON HART

Just when you thought your own job prospects might be in the toilet during these uncertain times for the middle class, consider the career of underground AOR legend Michael Yonkers.

After being picked up by Sire Records in 1968 for the release of his now-seminal noise rock opus Microminiature Love, Seymour Stein’s yesmen inexplicably shelved the record, where it wallowed in cold storage for over two decades before it was liberated by De Stijl Records and, later, Sub Pop. Any dreams of basking under the marquee moon were dashed as the ‘60s morphed into the ‘70s for Yonkers; he retreated back to civilian life, taking a job hauling scrap metal and operating a forklift inside of an unheated century-old warehouse.

But blue collar life did not quell the artist’s passion for creation. And absorbing his co-workers’ penchant for playing country music on the job, he home-recorded the outstanding Michael Lee Yonkers over the course of 1971 and 1972. Channeling Our Mother the Mountain by Townes Van Zandt and Glen Shirley’s eponymous jailhouse masterpiece, Yonkers eschewed his arsenal of homemade effects pedals and primitive electronic gadgetry entirely in favor of such rustic ditties as the “Subterranean Homesick Blues”-esque “An Easy Goin Country Guy” and “Mrs. Jennings Fruit Fly Farm”, which was taped live at a kid’s birthday party.

Drag City has done it once again in the lovingly crafted way by which they have reissued Michael Lee Yonkers on vinyl, updating its sound for the modern age while restoring the aesthetics of the original album art to capture the integrity of its humble beginnings. And even though it’s aged over 40 years, Yonkers’ ragged interpretation of country music sounds positively at home in a playlist betwixt Bon Iver and the Felice Brothers.

DOWNLOAD: “An Easy Goin Country Guy”, “Mrs. Jennings Fruit Fly Farm”

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