I may not have been the biggest Wolfie fan in the world, but during their existence it sure felt like it at times. With only a handful of fellow fans (ok, make that only one fellow fan) in my neck of the woods, I would have craved social networking sites had they been operational at the turn of the millennium. Not that I was totally starved for info on the quartet, merely I was a little lost in the wilderness, with my flashlight being their 1998 debut, Awful Mess Mystery. Brandishing a healthy dollop of Weezer-crunch plus chirpy Casios and organs, Wolfie had their crush-inducing schtick all snuggled up in twee yet sassy subtext. With the exception of drummer R.J. Porter, vocal duties were divied up between axe-wrangler Mike Downey, Amanda Lyons on keys, and Joe Ziemba handling bass. It was the latter two of that arrangement who garnered most of the attention, as they were a couple throughout their tenure in Wolfie, ultimately marrying and divorcing in the '00s if I have my facts straight. Awful Mess... was followed up by two more full lengths, 1999's Where's Wolfie, and Talk Dark Hill arriving two years later, amongst a handful of short-form releases and compilation appearances. Unfortunately, I don't have a comprehensive Wolfie website to send you to, but the first two albums are still available through Parasol.
Ironically, I found out about the 1997 Necessary Sailing cassette from a fairly comprehensive band website that has inexplicably been removed from the web. The irony doubles as that website was introduced only around the era of the last Wolfie record, Tall Dark Hill, where I posthumously learned of this thirteen song cassette-only album that preceded all of the band's other releases. The kicker? It was limited to a startlingly meager 50 copies (or was it 75)? The prospect of this scarce recording fascinated me to no end, and I very much wanted to add it to my collection. The odds of fulfilling that ambition were pretty nil, thought to my good fortune, by the middle of the 'Dubya' era, Mike Downey had established a website, which featured no small amount of podcasts of his solo recordings (predominantly four-track stuff from what I recall)...and one featuring the entire Necessary Sailing tape. I was finally able to lay ears on it, albeit in one long contiguous track. My desire for an original copy never quite waned however, and when I added this particular title to a "want list" on the blog last December, who came through for me other than Mike himself, who informed me he had an extra copy and I would soon be the grateful and lucky recipient.
Judging by a quick Google query today, Mike's website has been shuttered, and with it all of the aforementioned podcasts. Since this was such a holy-grail find, I wanted to share it en masse, despite it not being the most representative Wolfie recording (the most notable circumstance being the apparent absence of Amanda Lyons in the lineup at this particular juncture in their career). This rip was taken from my original tape with all the tracks properly separated. This nascent and modest reel of lo-fi goodness may pale in comparison to Wolfie's sturdier vinyl and CD releases that would soon come in it's wake, but it's a worthwhile listen for established customers. Fans of early Eric's Trip and the like would equally be advised to jump aboard. A big, big thanks to Mike for his generosity. If you're reading this, I owe you one big time!
01. Noids 02. On Your Way 03. Suspension Catchs 04. Let's Say We Forgot About It 05. Life Saver Socks 06. On Cinder Blocks Looking In 07. Pinecar Derby 08. VFW 09. Looks Fine on the Ledge 10. A Dumb Life 11. Silent Autumn Parks 12. The Long Drive Back 13. Graph Chaser