Friday, February 24, 2006

The man who loved music

Play it: Essential Scott McCaughey
The only reason I'm still playing music is because I get along with people...I know for sure that I wouldn't be in R.E.M. except for the fact that I'm a fun person to hang out with and have a drink with. That's my biggest qualification over my musicianly skills.
- Scott McCaughey
Rhapsody just added three Young Fresh Fellows albums... couple that with the recent release of The Minus 5's s/t release and you suddenly have a plethora of releases from McCaughey to choose from. The YFF and Minus 5 frontman has been a Seattle music scene fixture since the early 80's, both as popular musican/singer and as columnist for local music rag, The Rocket. After connecting later with Peter Buck, McCaughey not only had him playing in his side project, The Minus 5, but also booking shows for his wife's rock club, The Crocodile.

The Young Fresh Fellows were everyone's favorite party band, often getting compared to The Replacements. Paul Westerberg was a fan and even had them play at his wedding. Westerberg, NRBQ and They Might Be Giants all were name-dropping them, and while it was flattering, it did little for album sales. Their album The Men Who Loved Music (Play it) was a top-to-bottom masterpiece of fun rock. It almost even garnered them a hit (college radio airplay, anyway) with "Amy Grant" (Play it) which famously confessed "when she comes home from church/she's gotta take off those pants/that's what I like about Amy Grant." Co-founding member Chuck Carroll left shortly after, needing to feed his family, and was replaced by Fastback guitarist/songwriter Kurt Bloch. It took a couple albums for them to gell as a band (as they did with Electric Bird Digest,) but by then, a lot of momentum was lost, and grunge had taken over the city.

Meanwhile, McCaughey had already recorded a solo album (My Chartreuse Opinion, 1989) and had enjoyed the collaborative feel of the process. In 1992, R.E.M. mixed Automatic for the People in Seattle, and Peter Buck met his wife Stephanie, co-owner of the Crocodile Cafe. Buck became a Seattlite, and when your a musician in Seattle, you get to know McCaughey. By '94 McCaughey had already recruited him for a new collaborative project he called The Minus 5. They released the Old Liquidator, which featured Buck, The Posies, and members of NRBQ. McCaughey soon found himself as a touring member of REM, but continued to be dedicated to releasing a Minus 5 album with regularity. In 2000, McCaughey hooked up with Wilco (after meeting at a Lounge Axe benefit) to record the Minus 5 album, Down With Wilco (Play it,) which promptly got mired in similar major label difficulty like Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which was making the rounds at the time. McCaughey songwriting has become more and more meloncholy over the years, and remains knee-deep in 60's pop.

The Young Fresh Fellows also continue to get together and perform to the delight of rapid fans here (and in Japan.)

Previously:
Out there on the Maroon (Minus 5 S-T/Gun Album)

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2 comments:

drake leLane said...

Essential: Scott McCaughey

* "TV Dream" - Young Fresh Fellows
* "Amy Grant" - Young Fresh Fellows
* "My Friend Ringo" - Young Fresh Fellows
* "Taco Wagon" - Young Fresh Fellows
* "Miss Lonely Hearts" - Young Fresh Fellows
* "Sittin' Round Doin' Nothin' - (with Ben Vaughn Combo)" - The Minus 5
* "Low Beat" - Young Fresh Fellows
* "Winter Goes Away" - The Minus 5
* "Cross Every Line" - The Minus 5
* "Boeing Spacearium" - The Minus 5
* "Moonshine Girl" - The Minus 5
* "The Days of Wine and Booze" - The Minus Five
* "That's Not the Way It's Done" - The Minus Five
* "View From Below" - The Minus Five
* "Lyrical Stance" - The Minus 5
* "Hotel Senator" - The Minus 5
* "The Town That Lost Its Groove Supply (Seattle Version)" - The Minus 5
* "Out There On The Maroon" - The Minus 5
* "With A Gun" - The Minus 5
* "Twilight Distillery" - The Minus 5

MJAPA said...

teehee.. Scott cracks me up! :-)