Baxter (whose concept predated the White Stripes by twenty years). Meanwhile, lead guitarist and singer Glenn Mercer hooked up with a local Haledon group called The Trypes. Consisting of high school chums Marc Francia, John Baumgartner, Toni Paruta, and Elbrus Kelemet, the fledgling band had just been performing for their own amusement until Glenn joined them on drums. Their droning, mesmerizing soundscapes soon earned them gigs at the legendary Hoboken club Maxwells and a rave review in the then-so-crucial New York Rocker. Eventually, after having to relinquish his borrowed drums, Glenn returned to his proper instrument and Dave was recruited to pound the skins. With a broader pallette of sound, the Trypes now began to rehearse and perform in the New York metro area.
A Sunday night residency at the Haledon Peanut Gallery began to draw larger local crowds and the interest of other bands as well, who also wanted to be part of the Sunday night series, now dubbed Music For Neighbors. The Trypes would gather every Sunday and rehearse until showtime. During breaks at the rehearsals, the members would often switch instruments and Dave began to warble some well-known rock classics while Glenn or Elbrus played drums. As a result, Yung Wu was born. (The origin of the band's name remains a mystery.) Yung Wu's public performance debut was in August of 1982 at the Peanut Gallery, opening for The Trypes.
The lineup that night consisted of John Baumgartner on keyboards, Marc Francia and Glenn on guitars, and a hastily summoned Stanley Demeski on drums. During the set, Dave attempted some additional rhythm guitar on his white Vox Phantom, which promptly went out of tune and remained a prop for the show's duration. In addition to Dave's original songs, the band played Heroin by the Velvet Underground and the Eric Burdon/Animals psychedelic-era opus Sky Pilot. As ragged as a tape of the show reveals, the rather large crowd was vastly entertained. In mid-1983, Glenn and Bill decided to perform again as the Feelies.
Stanley Demeski was recruited to replace the unavailable Anton Fier and Brenda Sauter took over on bass for Keith, who had retired from music. Dave resumed his role as percussionist with the band. As a result, all future performances of Yung Wu featured this lineup, with the addition of John Baumgartner on keyboards. Weckerman could now retire his defective Vox guitar.
Many club and college frat party shows followed, including well-received performances at Maxwells and several shows at the legendary Folk City in New York city that resulted in a glowing review in the New York Times. By 1986 Maxwells owner Steve Fallon had begun his own record label, Coyote Records. Fallon felt that Yung Wu was ready to record a full-length LP, just as The Feelies had done earlier in the year when The Good Earth became one of Coyote's first releases. The recording took place during a two-week period in the late summer of 1987 at Hoboken's downtown Water Music Studio. Eight Weckerman originals were put on tape, as well as three cover songs to fill out the disc, including The Rolling Stones' Child Of The Moon, Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera's catchy travelogue of Peru, Big Day, and Neil Young's ominous Powderfinger. Coincidently, the record (whose cover sported Chinese sailors harvesting seaweed in the 1950s) was released in October of 1987 during the week of the great stock market crash.
The LP received favorable reviews in the alternative rock press and was even acclaimed by the New Musical Express in England, which had always been rather cool toward much underground music from America. Looking back now, several of the songs seem to prophetically predict events and headlines from the year to follow. The song Shore Leave concerns the issue of gays in the military, Return To Zion foresaw the spread of middle eastern-spawned terrorism, and The Empty Pool dealt with a shadow government and its super-surveilance of citizens. Another track, Strange Little Man, addressed the twilight of American prosperity. The band continued to perform live whenever possible, but shows were few and far between due to the Feelies' busy schedule at the time. The band played its last show in 1990 at Maxwells, opening for ex-Husker Du guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould.
The end came for Yung Wu and The Feelies when Bill Million suddenly left the music business and moved to Florida in 1991. Mercer and Weckerman continued to record and perform together in the back-to-basics band Wake Ooloo throughout much of the 90s, releasing three records before disbanding. In December of 2001, a slightly modified Yung Wu was reunited to perform with Yo La Tengo at their Hanukkah series at Maxwells, with James McNew of Yo La Tengo filling in on bass, along with Francia, Baumgartner, Paruta, Demeski, and Mercer. The entire Shore Leave LP was performed and the band played the Beatles' It's All Too Much as an encore in recognition of the recently departed George Harrison. In the summer of 2007, Glenn released his first solo record, Wheels In Motion, a project that reunited him with five former Feelies. A DVD of a surreal 1987 performance of Yung Wu at the Hoboken train station also became available.
As a result, Dave and Glenn decided to record new Wu material. So far, two new originals have been completed (which would have made a rather good 45 RPM single if we stilled lived in 1965). Further recording is anticipated until a full-length CD is completed. Stay tuned. from the yung wu myspace page Read more on Last.fm.
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