Saturday, January 12, 2008

Great Lost "Owsley" Album


What happened? In 1999, Will Owsley takes the Power Pop world by storm by issuing his self titled debut album - one of the finest examples of PowerPop ever. (If you don't know this album, don't read another word. Proceed directly to Amazon to purchase the actual CD. Used copies were listed as low as $1.50 last time I checked or download MP3s at Amazon for 9.99. If you like the other music we discuss on this Blog then you need to know this album.)

It took another four years, but in 2003, Owsley finally released his sophomore release, the Hard Way. Though not quite as consitently poppy as his debut effort, The Hard Way still has many amazing moments. Don't have it? Buy it at Amazon in CD form . I saw it used for $3.31 when I looked.

Before an extended period of silence, Owsley release one more single and hasn't been heard form since (the word is that he pays the bills as Amy Grant's touring guitarist. I guess that keeps him busy and employed).

What only dedicated Power Pop collectors have discovered is that Owsley released an earlier effort under the name of the Semantics. In this band, Owsley shares songwriting and singing duties with Millard Powers, the future bass player for Ben Folds. This is simply another must hear, must own album. Powers and Owsley have very similar singing voices and the songs are excellent. Zak Starkey plays drums recalling his lineage. A CD was recorded in 1992 and was supposed to have been released by Geffen in the US. It never came out here. It did have a very limited release in 1996 in Japan. The excellent Blog Peanutus Playground Blog has more info and a download link. You've got to hear this one. You can read much more about the album at the Zak Starkey fan site run by Kathy.

This brings me to the purpose of this post. Around 2000, some demos for the Semantics PowerBill session were cirulated. These included most of the songs on PowerBill but also quite a few songs unreleased anywhere else. A friend of mine intermixed these tunes with most of the tracks from solo CD put out by Millard Powers on MP3.com and there you have it, the lost Semantics/Owsley album! To be truthful, most of the singing is done by Millard Powers on these, however Owsley is heard from on a number of tracks and Powers has a great voice. More importantly, he writes Owsley-like great songs. My personal favorite is Track 4, Standing Still. A power ballad by Owsely that sports a gorgeous chorus.

Owsley, where-ever-you-are, some more material please? Millard, another album from you would be great!

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this...great to hear more semantics/owsley/millard powers. I have both owsley solo albums and semantics powerbill, but haven't heard a lot of these tracks!

This ranks up there with the Falkner demos you posted earlier. What's next?

Please keep them coming. Your blog rules!

MC

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KarbonHed said...

Excellent post!

I've been looking for the Millard Powers stuff that was on MP3.com since getting The Semantics - Powerbill from peanut's playground.

I got the 2 Owsley CD's dirt cheap but couldn't find the Millard Powers stuff anywhere.

A properly titled and tagged Powerbill is available here...

http://rapidshare.com/files/81569289/The_Semantics_-_Powerbill.zip

RuinBird said...

Any chance of posting the Powerbill demos?

Check out my blog for another obscure classic - Strange by Ether.

Haper said...

Well, the posting that's up here contains all of the unreleased tracks from the Semantic Demos (intermixed with the Millard Power solo CD). I'll see if I can find the original tracks. These will include demo versions of the tunes that became "Powerbill". Stay tuned...

Anonymous said...

anybody have a clue were i can buy or download a copy of the Millard Powers solo cd ?????

i have hunted high and low and cannot find any links on the internet that are still working .

thanks for any help

Andy

Haper said...

Andy,

I'm pretty sure that you never really could buy the Millard CD from any source other than MP3.com (earlier business model for that site). However ALL of the Millard songs are contained in the link in this post. Go download it and you'll have the all the Millard songs.

Anonymous said...

haper , thanks for the advice , couldnt get the link to work , probably doesnt work with AOL , i will have to try with another browser

Andy

Anonymous said...

Haper , thanks for the reply , i couldnt get the link to work using AOL tried another browser and no problems !

just one last question , looking at the track listing for the Millard Powers solo cd theres supposed to be a new recording of The Semantics "Jenny Won't Play Fair " any idea why its not included in the excellent collection of demos .

Andy

Franklin said...

I downloaded Owsley's first Cd, the one he got out before it got picked by Giant, and a Live performance from peanuts playground a long time ago. My external hard drive, were all music was, broke and I lost everything. And It seems like peanut's playground doesn't exist anymore, because I can't find it. Does anyon have that cd and live performance, give it to me? Or Haper, if you have it, Could you post it?

I would be greatly appreciated.

Haper said...

Sorry about your hard drive Franklin. I saw that the first CD was posted at Power Pop Overdose.

http://powerpopoverdose.blogspot.com/2008/07/owsley-owsley-1999.html

Cheers!

Haper said...

Oh yeah, I don't have that live performance...but I think I have an OK audience recording somewhere. I'll have to search for it.... Stay tuned.

Funky said...

Thanks a lot man! It's greatly appreciated. You have a great blog with great music. I'll check it out from time to time.

thebernreuter said...

Owsley released a two song single through iTunes, and a new acoustic album is in the works.

Any news on the Owsley live recordings? Did anyone ever track down a tape of his performance on Reverb on HBO?

thebernreuter said...

Fun story - Owsley [my distant cousin] played a one-off show here at WorkPlay shortly after the release of his second lp, the Hard Way. Millard Powers was playing bass.

At one point Owsley asked for requests, and I shouted, "Jenny Won't Play Fair!" He looked kind of shocked and amused, and then he told the crowd that that was one of Millard's songs. I don't remember if he said anything about the Semantics - I was shocked because they were actually going to play it.

Millard and Owsley got all excited and started scrambling around trying to figure out how to pull it off. Owsley said, "I wanna play bass!", and Millard went over to play keyboards.

It was incredible. Somehow the drummer knew the song. At the solo break Millard said something like, "At this point, just imagine the most amazing guitar solo you've ever heard." :) They nailed it.

Alex said...

Riding home from thanksgiving dinner at my parents house tonight, we played the Owsley album. We don't pull it out very often, because it is one of our ultimate favorites and we don't ever want it to get old. Once again, we were amazed with the sheer brilliance of the work. Everything on the album seems inspired - hooks, lyrics, and great production values - we can barely believe this was produced on a 16 track. So as soon as we got home we googled Owsley to see what he has been up to as we havent heard from him since "the hard way." This post shows that there are others who love his music as much as we do! Owsley, if you read this - we would LOVE to hear more work from you, and we will be here waiting as long as it takes!!

Evan said...

pop fair, I have really enjoyed your postings and appreciate the effort you have put into them thanks!

Steve Ebe said...

I hate to be the bearer of terrible news, but Will Owsley passed away yesterday in Nashville. We've lost a true musical genius.

DaSpider said...

RIP Will Owsley - here's a working link to the Semantics Powerbill - http://rapidshare.com/files/81569289/The_Semantics_-_Powerbill.zip

David C. Coleman said...

Did you hear that Will Owsley passed away yesterday? Google "Will Owsley dead" and you'll find a preliminary article from "The Tennessean".

It's a sad, sad day. Owsley is one of my all-time favorite songwriters. The debut album was simply amazing!

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news if you hadn't heard yet.

Alex said...

I am sad beyond words. What a loss.

ehprh12 said...

Please re-up The Semantics - One More Step. The link is broken. Would love to hear this.