So maybe I’ve mentioned it here, but one of my favorite ways of finding new music is to go to the myspace pages of various bands and friends and then just start clicking on artists in their “Friends” space. It is very hit or miss, obviously, but occasionally you happen on a gem.
My buddy Steve is a pretty unique guy, for instance. He ran off to Memphis as a teenager to hang out in the “scene” there–Alex Chilton, Chris Stamey’s Car Records, The Scruffs, etc. He’s been one of the major “behind the scenes” movers and shakers in his local music community ever since, always playing bass in at least 4 bands at a time. He’s also been working in record stores since most of us were little kids, and the breadth of his knowledge is kind of scary.
Anyway, tonight I drop in on Steve’s page, and notice a “friend” in his top friends I’d never seen before, a guy all dolled up in heavy makeup and glitter and looking like he’d just walked out of the movie Velvet Goldmine. The guy’s name is David Werner, (NOT Warner…) and I guess for a few minutes in the early 1970’s, he had a stab at the gold ring. He was 17 when he recorded his debut album, “Whizz Kid” in 1974, and yeah, he nicked that title from the Mott The Hoople song (and later on, Ian Hunter would produce a few tracks for him). I guess RCA saw him as a chance to tap into the fertile Bowie ground they were already strip-mining with Ziggy his own self. Sadly, David’s three albums all tanked, and he went into songwriting and production (he’s co-written enough platinum hits for folks like Billy Idol in the past to make a living of it), and that was that.
But I’m really curious, so I get an email to Steve asking about David Werner. The response has me even more curious: “Kid, Dan Bejar would give his left nut if he could get Destroyer to sound like ‘Whizz Kid’”. Huh.
A little more research reveals that there are a lot of internet folks who remember the guy’s music, which sadly has never been re-issued in any digital format, CD or otherwise. That’s a shame…but wait. A guy with a killer blog called “Vinyl Treasures” uses what has to be some amazing equipment to rip some incredible digital versions of lp’s that have never gotten true CD reissues. The very first album he ripped for his blog? Yeah, it was David Werner’s “Whizz Kid”.
A dozen listens later, and I’m totally sold. There are a few cringe-able '70’s singer/songwriter moments of inconsistency on it, but the high points of “One More Wild Guitar”, “The Ballad Of Trixie Silver”, and the title track more than make up for that. Even better, the audio fidelity of the tracks is pretty incredible–way better than any vinyl rips I’ve ever listened to. Better yet, apparently Werner himself is aware of the blog and the rips and has given his blessing until/if proper CD reissues of his stuff should appear.
And so I’m sharing a cool little music discovery with the class here. First off a taster, two cool tracks from the album:
The whole album is totally worth hearing, and can be had gratis right here, courtesy of Popcat at Vinyl Treasures:
http://www.divshare.com/download/2772494-2cd The archive password is “popcat” (no quotes)