Sound — 9
This is the original Michael Yonkers debut intended for release on Sire records back in 1968 but it never did get pressed until recently on Sub Pop and De Stijl Records. This reissue on Sub Pop gives some nice bonus tracks to add to an interesting body of work from someone who was ahead of their time and the music sounds like a meld of Sabbath-Troggs-Pere Ubu-Cramps. That's a mindf--k everyone should be sold on and it appears to reach on a lot of contemporaries like The Trashmen, Link Wray, The Who with "My Generation," and even The Stooges from the same era along with other hard rock proto punk monsters like MC5 and Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and a bit like The Holy Modal Rounders. Oddly enough there are some strong nods towards The Godz on here and sounding somewhat influenced by The Monks and their highly prized debut "Black Monk Time" from 1965 sounding so avant garde like a forerunner for all things to come like this and a few others who would make all out heavy punk rock type outsider music that wasn't really fit for the mainstream or mainstream American audiences weren't ready for such but some were, there was a widespread youth following towards bands like Alice Cooper and The Stooges so I'm kind of surprised for whatever reason a true expression and work of art like this went unpressed. De Stijl Records put out a limited, vinyl-only pressing of the original album while this Sub Pop label has it on CD/vinyl and mp3 formats with bonus tracks.
Lyrics — 9
Michael Yonkers is a legendary figure in Minneapolis music-lore, who, through his own modifications, created his own guitars and effects and this experimentation led to the sound that this album yields. It really is very unlike anything else I've heard yet somewhat close to a mixture of The Godz, The Stooges, and has its own psychedelic avant-garde sort of proto-punk and hard rock metal archetype of stylings yet in a simpler approach as a trio turning into a beautiful underrated band that could play some really revolutionary music. When listening to this ingenious work of art please always keep in mind this was recorded in 1968 but not that alone really attracts me to it, even having been recorded then putting that fact aside it still somehow doesn't sound like anything else I ever heard the lyrics are well molded into a really awe inspiring rage of political anti war stance similar to the album "Ramblin' Gamblin Man" by Bob Seger in 1969 which also had some of the same material in a hard rock angst to back everything with.
The opening track "Jasontown" brings a psychedelic glory and shows Michael Yonkers' great vocal skills along with playing a different style of his own on guitar and the bass riffs are definitely more than on key and in fact compliment the guitar playing lyrics and the general theme and direction the song is going in along with some jazzy free flow rhythmic drumming, I think the Michael Yonkers Trio is all out fantastic. "Microminiature Love" the album titled track definitely gives another more low down and pessimistic approach of a more realistic approach to perceiving life and how it's not all perfect. There are some clever rhymes and word schemes throughout here in quite brilliant songwriting and composure from Yonkers. "Boy in the Sandbox" has a very dreary setting to it with loud screeching guitar effects before any equipment of the time could do that, Yonkers is a really intellectual personality from what it seems, being able to invent his own custom technology for incredible unheard of effects during this era and Yonkers can really deliver a chilling scream vocals along with those heart-stopping bits of loud startling noises emerging from his guitar, Yonkers definitely has some talent and skill here, just in his own area of expertise and I think still remains a very creative and all around amazing musician who can produce very original and genuine material. Most of this is very dark and dismal and all around pessimistic as I was saying with the lyrics and even a song like "Smile for Awhile" turns into another serious and philosophically dark song of lust.
There were few other rock songwriters of the era as plugged into such an incessantly downer mood, and when he sings "heaven's turning into hell, life is turning into death" on the title track, you believe it, or at least you believe it's happening to him. Perhaps the closest reference point might be The Stooges, but "Microminiature Love" is much rawer in some respects than The Stooges' first few albums, sounding as if it's the product of a basement rehearsal that was caught on tape unbeknownst to the band in a closer element to The Velvet Underground and The Holy Modal Rounders as forerunners to this type of darker music uncommon during this era. There are some really realistic simple lyrics like how material gain is just ignorance like seeing how is mind rots with all the material gain he has on "Smile Awhile." I love how Yonkers can do a rhythm/lead method of his own remaining in a gray area of his own technique where he creates his own way of playing that fits the chorus, and managing to be a very skillful trio most certainly. He bashing of the drums is as shaky in tempo as his voice is in timbre, wailing in a tormented tone that's something of a somewhat less off-key, more powerful forefather of later auteurs like Jandek and so hauntingly performs "Returning" in all its sinister glory, I love how it just always feels like this is coming from some alternate dimension even more horrific than the wickedness of this world itself, like a world with acid rain; the hardcore intensity of the song vibrations and moods here are sometimes so sad and glum it feels like that. The anti-war "Kill the Enemy" and "Puppeting" which mentions pollution are such blunt force trauma tracks too dark and straight up about real issues that were actually important and still are issues today.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall you get forty-eight minutes of material for a fair price with experimental music that would help propel rock in a new direction to genres like punk and grunge and noise rock, it's all here and so distant from all the groups that would form music on a closer level to this, and it beats all of that about a decade to the punch its like Silver Apples with its electronica music before it was ever popular and not succeeding before as well as the band does now. Raised on a steady diet of Link Wray and The Trashmen, Yonkers pushed the boundaries of distortion and truly transformed it into a powerful voice. The songs on "Microminiature Love" defy immediate categorization, but in them are shades of Pere Ubu, the howl of Iggy, the blunt primitivism of The Godz, and the seeds of countless other underground heroes. The album is characterized by its droning open-tunings, choppy distortion, twangy folk ministrations, outer-world speaker pans, and bevy of crazed fretwork. But there's a point at which this record shifts from wacky historical curiosity to full-on psych-rock excellence: the clanging fireworks that launch the final vibrato of "Boy in the Sandbox" from gloomy minor to stratospheric noise triumph. Elsewhere, "Scat Jam" is a deconstructed space-out that recalls Comets on Fire, featuring strangely out-of-left-field drum breaks, entropic wooden percussion, Yonkers' gleeful shouts, and Wayne Rogers' guitar-blast tectonics. I mean just the cover alone of the photograph of this guy really looks like he wasn't even meant for that time, he's just a real pioneer and eccentric genius, we may owe a lot in modern rock genres thanks to him and of course Hendrix along with others.