|the desert island classics story #2:|
Let's go back to Austin, Texas in the mid-eighties. The city's music scene is a crazy brew wild with experimentation. Some bands combine the sounds of surfing music with the blues, others try a little outlaw country with a touch of reggae. The leading band on the roots-pop meets punk front, however, is The Wild Seeds. Their leader, one Michael Hall, loves the sounds of 60s instrumental rock and the classic punkadelic bands. He has just finished his time in the Army and dabbles in music journalism for the time being.
But now it was time for him to do his own thing and get serious about starting a band. Paying their dues on the private party/University of Texas "circuits”, The Wild Seeds would soon discover that this lifestyle isn't a piece of cake financially - but they are determined to keep at it. 1984 sees the release of their first 6-track mini album with the somewhat optimistic title LIFE IS GRAND (Life in a Soul City). Hometown and some hipper European critics are loving it instantly and proclaim a new powerpop renaissance. BUT, symptomatically, due to distribution problems the album appears in record stores not until early 1985! So the band isn't able to benefit from the 1984 momentum on the sales front and ¾ of the membership is leaving already....
But this is Hall's brainchild and he is determined to keep it going. In spring of 1985 Hall finds new partners-in-crime to add to his own vocals, guitar and piano: Bo Solomon (vocals, guitar), Steve McCracken (bass, lap steel), Joey Shuffield (drums). Guys from Austin, Houston and St. Louis who had already shared their talents in the short-lived Austin combo Stand Ready. Hall soon senses a special chemistry working between them and continues to develop his own poetic genius, fuelled by an almost manic love for music - being able to put the twists and turns of everyday life into song lyrics. Michael Hall is coming up with true rock and roll poetry and The Wild Seeds are getting close to record their first proper album. The band's hip factor is further promoted by appearences at MTV's 'The Cutting Edge' show and the all-important New Music Seminar in NYC. They are mentioned favorably in Rolling Stone, Spin and even Newsweek.
BRAVE, CLEAN & REVERENT is finished soon thereafter but they are still lacking a proper record deal. The local Jungle Records offers their small services and soon excellent reviews are coming in from Billboard, Musician, BAM, CMJ and Cashbox magazines. Unfortunately, a major deal is not in sight for the band. But Michael Hall is not losing sleep over this. He is busy managing personal changes (Kris McKay and Paul Swift have joined the band) and he's on a roll. Results can be heard 1987: the band's second album MUD, LIES & SHAME is released on Jungle (later on Passport Records) in 1987. But the amount of financial mismanagement at the label's offices brings business to a halt in late 1988, and in the aftermath The Wild Seeds decide to call it a day.
BRAVE, CLEAN & REVERENT remains as the nucleus of the band's legacy and has defended its place among the all-time greatest post-punk/powerpop records of the eighties. Most of the former Wild Seeds members are still involved in the Austin music scene. Kris McKay released solo works on Arista and Shanachie, Joey Shuffield drums for Fastball and the mercurial Michael Hall has continued to develop as one of rock's most charismatic songwriters. Get ready to rediscover a classic rock and roll gem from Austin!!
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