There's a famous rock and roll legend of questionable origin that goes something like this: one day in early 1967, during the recording of what was to be Gene Vincent's self titled album, Gene and most of his band were shanghaied on some interstate with car trouble, and failed to notify the studio that they would not be able to make the recording date. An enigmatic young band called The Seeds happened to be in town, and seized the opportunity. The band entered the studio in Gene's place, and before the engineers and studio hacks knew what had happened, the tape was rolling and The Seeds had effectively commandeered the session. The band left with a reel of music that has been described by the ludicrously few who've heard it as 'obscenely great' rock and roll.
This story, along with the now well-worn tale of Jandek's note-for-note cover of Between The Buttons, might be the only things to adequately prepare you for Second Attention, the new album by Wooden Wand & The Sky High Band.
Recorded live and on vintage equipment in San Francisco, California, Second Attention is a declaration of righteous swagger. The pan-coastal band - representing California, the Midwest, The South and New York City - spent two weeks holed up in a modified two story house with nothing but three reels of tape, a bunch of instruments and copious amounts of drugs and booze. This album is the result of that time.
Possessed with the heart and soul of Neils both Hagerty and Young, Wooden Wand leads the band - featuring members of Skygreen Leopards, The Vanishing Voice and Davenport - through eleven rollicking tunes that recall such cracked masterpieces as Tonight's The Night and Mendocino. Wand has become somewhat well known in certain circles for his surreal lyrical imagery, an uppity blend as informed by Robyn Hitchcock as by the Zimmer Man himself, and on Second Attention, he spares no detail, whether discussing the pitfalls of the American idealist, sneakily tossing in references to Alexander Jodorowsky films, or weighing in on Stanley Burroughs' controversial guide to fasting, The Master Cleanser. But to what do we owe this newfound barbarism, this unhinged performance that has no precedent on any of Wand's previous sides? Is it the rubber-legged and starry eyed band that's to blame for leading our fearless narrator into the dark rock and roll abyss? Or perhaps it was the surroundings themselves that caused the mostly urbane Wand to rebel against the distinctly beauteous and pastoral? Maybe the whole godforsaken gang just spent too much time listening to - and possible misinterpreting - Songs of Love and Hate?
No matter. There is beauty in the periphery but more in the small details. Second Attention is where East truly meets West. Where the shimmer suddenly gets grimmer. Sunshine meets grease. It will likely be remembered as the album that remains after any and all 'movements' inevitably move on.
Or, perhaps more to the point - to paraphrase the late, great Townes Van Zandt - don't let the sunshine fool ya, motherfucker.
released 22 August 2006
Wooden Wand Jehovah
Steven J Taveniere
Satya Sai Kali Jehovah
DM Seidel, Brent Cole, David Tarica, and Mono Ospovat
some songs recorded by
at Pink Gazelle Studios, SF, pre-Winter 2005
sone songs recorded by
at Emandee, Brookln, NY, Christmas 2005
Love & Thanks: Slim Moon, Keith Wood, Aaron Rosenblum, Cory Rayborn, Donovan Quinn, Joshua Bloom, Regina Greene, John Olson, James and Spencer, Religious Knifes, Akron/Family, Michael Gira, Theresa Behnen, Jack and Lori Rose, Clint Simonson, Ingrid Renan, Andrew and Thurston, Heidi Diehl, Lucas Crane, Pete Nolan, and The Gozzel