What About It by Wake Ooloo on Apple Music

12 Songs


About Wake Ooloo

Wake Ooloo was less a Feelies spin-off band and more of a temporary sequel. The Feelies, Glenn Mercer and Bill Million's on-again/off-again proto-indie pop outfit, broke up seemingly for good in late 1991, when Million moved to Florida. Though the two had led bands under that name since 1976 -- arguably the most underrated members of CBGB's class of '77 -- both were far more part of a music scene around their native Haledon, New Jersey. Mercer's musical partnership with drummer Dave Weckerman, a sometimes-uncredited Feelies percussionist who joined the band officially in 1983, actually stretched back even further than his collaboration with Million. Both Mercer and Weckerman had played together as early as a high school band called the Outkids, and -- when the Feelies broke up -- had no thoughts but to continue playing together.

The previous two Feelies albums had been released by the major-label-affiliated A&M, and -- despite the newly indie-friendly grunge era -- neither Mercer nor Weckerman had any desire to pursue that kind of success again, nor had any desire to tour. As with the Willies, the Trypes, Yung Wu, and other Feelies spin-offs, they were content simply to play music as often as possible. They were joined by another high school friend, Russell Gambino, as well as Feelies roadie Troy Weiss. Following the Feelies' increasingly polished efforts for A&M, Wake Ooloo continued in the Feelies' tradition of jangling guitars, atmospheric percussion, and a deep Velvet Underground streak, but took a far looser approach -- a direct result of the meticulous Million's absence. Released three years after the Feelies' Time for a Witness, Wake Ooloo's Hear No Evil felt similar in spirit to the anarchic joy of early Feelies live bootlegs, though the sound would grow tempered with successive albums. While Mercer wrote the majority of the band's material, Weckerman, Gambino, and others contributed original songs, as well. For fans of the Feelies, Wake Ooloo are as worth exploring as the Trypes or Yung Wu -- or more, given that they were Mercer's primary outlet for three albums.

The band split in 1998, when Gambino could no longer make time for it. Mercer and Weckerman continued to make music together, pairing with Feelies drummer Stan Demeski for a time in Sunburst, as well as a Mercer solo album, and an eventual Feelies reunion in 2008. ~ Jesse Jarnow


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