Smog – Wild Love
Drag City, 1995
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
Jesus CHRIST Bill Callahan sounds young here. I realize now though I own this record, I've never listened to it. I must have bought it on the intention of listening to it, and being surprised that I'd never listened to it. And it's pretty fucking good! It's very orchestral, and apparently the Cello parts were played by Jim O'Rourke, which rules. The songs are all pretty short and honestly, he sounds like Conor Oberst every now and then (“Bathroom Floor” in particular). I just want to know when he develops the smoky baritone I know and love him for. I know it's before Knock Knock in 1999 and pretty sure it's either before or on Red Apple Falls. This is pretty damn good, but I don't know if it really stands on its own or really functions as a stepping stone, taking Bill Callahan to where he is now. Mostly, this sounds like a more ornate version of Letting Off the Happiness.
Here's an updated version of "Bathysphere," performed this summer. It's a lot better, and it validates the promise shown on this record, despite Callahan's voice being in development.