Music freaks world-wide know now know Michael Yonkers as one of the most exciting sounds in psychedelia. However, although Michael Yonkers has been making music since the early 1960s, until the release of Microminiature Love by DeStijl Records in 2002, he was a relatively obscure figure in the Minneapolis music scene. That might have been different if Sire Records would have released his psych classic Microminiature Love in 1968, as planned, but that was not to be. Shelved for decades, the world – or a small handful of the world – got to hear folk offerings like Grimwood.
Things changed when Clint Simonson of Destijl stumbled on one of Michael’s records – Border of My Mind – in the late 90s. Brothers Jim & Mike Blaha also lucked their way into Michael Yonkers world by a chance encounter with a 7” put out by Get Hip Records. All three set off to find this fascinating musician…and they did. While Simonson heard, fell in love with, and finally released Microminiature Love, the Blaha brothers and their band The Blind Shake chanced into a jam session with Yonkers. That jam was to lead to a fantastic collaboration by Michael Yonkers with the Blind Shake entitled Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons.
Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons is not only a great collection of punk-induced psychedelia, as heavy as anything can be without sludging to death; it was also the best thing Yonkers had done since Microminiature Love, and a high point of the Blind Shake. A few years later Yonkers and the Shake got together for a brief split/collaborative album on Learning Curve Records. Good stuff but not quite as powerful as the two aforementioned monsters. Now comes Period, Michael Yonkers and the Blind Shake’s first full album together since Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons and their best yet.
Like Yonkers and the Shake’s previous work, Period is tuneful and heavy and punk and psychedelic, but there is also something more. The album has an energy which is dark but not sinister. Yonkers’ lyrics are intense, even painful, but his voice is strong. The swirl of sound created by his homemade guitar is other worldly, and when woven into the guitar/baritone guitar/drum throb and punch created by the Blind Shake, Period is nothing less than great. Seriously, after six straight months of listening to Period, I think it is a classics of heavy weirdness – a melding of Von Lmo’s Future Language, High Rise II, and Monoshock’s Walk to the Fire. Period is even worthy of a listen next to Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum. Yeah, it is a pretty good record. Vinyl copies of Period are housed in a Stoughton “old style” tip-on sleeve.
Released: January 4, 2012
Michael Yonkers / Lovely Gold - 4050897
Unreleased Michael Yonkers tunes from 1977.
Released: July 26, 2010
Michael Yonkers / Goodby Sunball - 4050896
Secret Seven Records is proud to release the first ever reissue of the lost psych-folk LP ‘Goodby Sunball’ by cult favorite, Michael Yonkers. Privately released in 1974, ‘Goodby Sunball’ was recorded at Yonkers’ home studio a few years after ‘Microminature Love’ and just before ‘Lovely Gold’. Remastered from the original LP by Ben Tuttle.
Limited to 500 copies.
“The music for ‘Goodby Sunball’ was written during the recovery period following serious spine surgery. The surgery had not gone well, i was laid up for months, and had to learn to walk again. So, the music was written using an acoustic guitar, while laying in bed. When i was able to be up and around more, i started recording the songs…a little at a time.It took about 7 months. i recorded the tracks in the little studio i had in my place. It was all recorded on two-channel, tube type machines (back and forth between machines). The vocals were done in the bathroom, to give an expanded sound.” – Michael Yonkers
Side One: Goodby Sunball / Tell Me Of Love / The Day Of Jubilee / Angel Of The Snow / The Swamp Of Love / Anne Is My Lassie / Another Day / Morning Of Love / Someone Like You
Side Two: Early Wakin’ Morning / Strange And Lonely Land / Oh Can You Tell Me / Time Honored Love / Goodby Sunball
Released: July 26, 2010
Michael Yonkers / Grimwood - SBL-76056
When considering Grimwood, it’d be a mistake to not also give thought to Microminiature Love. Recorded in ‘68 for Sire, MML languished unreleased until the spring of 2002, when we unearthed it swank on wax (later reissued as a Sub Pop CD). Called the greatest psych record of the 60s by more than a few, it’s no stretch to say that had it materialized, it would’ve altered the lay of the land. Though for various reasons still unclear, the deal fell apart and the band split. Perhaps this was the first in a seemingly endless series of cruel blows for Yonkers. He retreated, and recorded Grimwood.
As is said all too often about all too many recs, this is intensely private music. While not immediately recognizable as possessing the radical visionary qualities as MML, there is nevertheless a miracle at work. Usually there is a distance between singer / song. Here the distance is completely revoked. There is an immediate, definite coinciding between Yonkers and his Grimwood.
Yonkers suffered a debilitating back injury in a warehouse accident in ‘71 when a half-ton of scrap metal fell on him. He had strong allergic reactions to a chemical that was injected into his spinal cord in ’73, and he almost gave up the ghost. That caused a serious, life long condition called adhesive arachnoiditis. For awhile he retired from music. Though recorded in ’69, Yonkers privately released Grimwood in ’74, along with 3 other recs: Goodby Sunball (recorded in ’71), Michael Lee Yonkers (’72) and a duo with Jim Woehrle (‘73), Borders of My Mind. If they sold at all, they sold horribly. There is a photo inside Sub Pop’s MML CD of yonkers throwing copies of Grimwood up in the air, as they’d seemingly become disposable, as well as a heavy burden to lug around. Enterprising rec collectors have had a run on Grimwood for some time and it’s been impossible to affordably obtain. So here it is, remastered, digitized and priced for the people…
Released: September 11, 2007
Michael Yonkers / Microminiature Love - SP508
Originally recorded in 1968 and slated for release on Sire Records, Microminiature Love languished unreleased until unearthed and issued by De Stijl Records as a limited, vinyl-only pressing in 2002. Our friends at Aquarius Records had the following to say about the original vinyl release:
“An obscure late-sixties ahead-of-his-time visionary gets his due with this LP reissue. Yonkers’ stuff was like nothing anyone had heard back then (or even now really): fucked-up garage psych with dementedly genius lyrics and crazy acid-fried guitar. Yonkers, a legendary Minneapolis-area figure, built his own effects pedals, cut his Fender Telecaster down to a plank, and played like no one else ever. I’m at a loss of words on how to describe this. It’s sort of like a fusion of stripped down Black Sabbath, The Troggs, Pere Ubu, and The Cramps??”
The July 22, 2003 CD reissue includes six bonus tracks not found on that first pressing of the LP.
Microminiature Love: finally back on vinyl!
Sub Pop’s Aug. 16, 2011 vinyl reissue will present the album in its original 7-song version. And, all six of the bonus tracks from the CD will be available in the download that comes with this LP. Proceeds from the sales of this LP reissue will benefit the Andy Kotowicz Family Foundation.
Released: 2003-07-22 (CD), 2003-07-22 (MP3s), 2011-08-16 (LP)