This is very exciting – certainly to me. Yung Wu was a Feelies side project with one classic album, Shore Leave, on Steve Fallon’s Coyote Records in 1987, which I had, once upon a time. Bar/None Records, in conjunction with Coyote, is re-issuing this much sought-after, long out-of-print album on April 21, Record Store Day on LP, CD and digital download; this is the first appearance on CD or digital download. The album packaging features previously unseen photos and liner notes by Yung Wu frontman Dave Weckerman (Feelies percussionist).
Shore Leave saw Mr. Weckerman as lead singer and main songwriter backed by the rest of the Feelies, from The Good Earth album, which is the same line-up who still/currently perform as The Feelies): Glenn Mercer and Bill Million on guitars; Brenda Sauter on bass and Stan Demeski on drums. John Baumgartner from local legends Speed The Plough (and the Trypes) also joined them in the studio, playing keyboards. Yung Wu swaps The Feelies’ herky-jerkiness for a (more) pop sensibility.
The title track chimes along in a swirling, hypnotic fashion with a nicely taut rhythm and has a sweet melody, which makes this a perfect opener; all the elements of an instant pop classic are here; the keyboard embellishments add a nice and subtle touch. The dense feel of “The Empty Pool” is warm, while being slightly dramatic and slightly mysterious; “Spinning” does, indeed, have that Feelies vibe, but is punctuated by a quasi-country element in the twang of the guitar figures and “Big Day” is prime ’80’s college radio pop with deliciously delicate guitars and a catchy chorus. “Strange Little Man” again fits that quintessential ’80’s sound and if memory serves, it was played with some regularity on the old 106.3, WHTG from Eatontown, New Jersey – the only “alternative” (ecch) radio station at the time; the take on the old Stones’ classic “Child Of The Moon” (that’s the second album in about a month where I’ve reviewed an album with a version of this song) is stripped down and played with a gentility that gives the song an innocence and “Modern Farmer”, again, has that Feelies style of intensity but is a wildly happy, fast and upbeat piece that closes this collection in a perfect manner.
There are very few reissues that have excited me as of late, but this is one that gives me great joy – from the memory of when I first had the album but also at being reminded of how good this album is. If you like The Feelies and don’t know about this, you’re not a fan – and even if don’t know anything about The Feelies, you’ll love this album. It’ll give you joy, guaranteed.
Shore Leave will be released on Friday, April 20th, 2018 (in time for Record Store Day)