Perry Serpa: Vocals, all instruments
For someone who’s been in The Sharp Things from the beginning, and indeed for any fan of the band, this recording is nothing short of extraordinary. Perry may not remember when this collection of home (and elsewhere?) recorded demos was assembled, but judging from the songs, I’m going to take a wild guess and say 1998. I’m basing this on the presence of “Mrs. Mesch,” which was a very early part of our repertoire, and the unusual medley of “Lament/Right”; long ago, “Lament” become permanently conjoined to “A Million Things” as “Right” went on to deservedly revered solo status.
But the true wonder of this cassette is the embryonic versions of songs that would appear on albums recorded years later — as well as antecedents, lyrically and musically, to songs we’ve only just released only recently! Taken together with the central songs to our first years as a little band that denied it was a band, Perry’s Demos is not only an irreplaceable artifact of THe Sharp Things’ earliest years, but also a glimpse into Perry’s creative process: the gradual accumulation of ideas that emerge in their own time, or not at all.
Here it is, track by track:
Honestly, this one is kind of a mess, LOL! But remember: it’s just a demo, for the band to learn. Which we did. Fairly sure this was in the set at some point. Hang in there, and note the signature Serpa song structure.
This song’s been lurking in the shadows forever. Similar in sentiment to “Boys Club,” it was in the early sets. Synth string arrangements, which we at that time could not pull off live, foretell the future. Sounds like Steve on the drums. Where was this recorded?
Another foundational track, and a personal favorite from those years. Perry, Steve, and I did this one in 2007 to celebrate our 10th anniversary at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. Hardly anyone came, and I lost my E-bow, but it was a good night.
Every Sharp Things epoch has an epic. In the immediate post-9/11 period, it was “Vacationing”; today it’s the medley at the heart of EverybodyEverybody. “Mrs. Mesch” started it all. Dig the flutes!
Missing The Days
What can I say? We closed with this countless times, to the point where I couldn’t stand it. But Steve always loved it, and I’ll admit, it was a reliably killer closer! I bet we never play it again, now. Fuck.
She Left With The Sun
An enduringly popular track from 2005’s Foxes & Hounds in it’s earliest form, with horn samples taking the string parts, and my guitar line yet unborn.
The Valley Of The Dolls
I think this made it into the set. Might be the only recording of it. “It’s a shame.”
You’re Losing Me
This song is so central to TST history, it’s beyond belief it was never properly recorded and released. An early expression of Perry’s Dylan influence. Motherfuck.
A highlight of our 2003 debut LP, in demo form. Not too different from the released version.
So strange to hear these two songs segued. “Lament” is similar to the Here Comes original, then there’s this odd little stompy beat, followed by a big synth swell, and then we’re dropped into a lovely demo of “Right.” Just weird to me.
Mind, blown, again: Here is the verse of “Sport’s Drinking Again” from the new album, recorded nearly 20 years ago. The verse lyrics are different, but the melody’s intact. The “everything must change” chorus is in the wilderness for now.
Surreal! The hooky horn break from “Flowers For My Girl” (released about 15 years later on Green Is Good), appears stitched onto a different, forgotten song.
Home Is Where You Hang Your Head
Insane! The chorus of Foxes & Hounds‘ “95 St Mark’s Place” is the verse here. The title reappears in the lyrics to “Lights,” my co-write with Perry on Green.
Gospel interlude: “Love Is The Greatest Flame”
Feed For Fate
A sweet, forgotten little song. We never performed this, as far as I remember.
Danny Valentine Says
We played this one a lot in the waning days of the 20th century. Not far from what it was live.
A favorite of mine from the early sets. So nice to hear it again.
Exit: Christian radio