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Uploaded on Jul 14, 2011
Gary Wilson was born in October 1953, in southern New York state. He was something of a musical child prodigy, having learned to play bass, guitar, piano, cello and drums by the time he entered grade school. Early on, he exhibited a desire to perform (inspired by his heroes Dion and the Belmonts, and having seen the Beatles perform at Shea Stadium), and at 12 years old was playing keyboards in a local garage band. The band actually cut a single when Gary was in the eighth grade, and was successful enough to open for the bubblegum act 1910 Fruitgum Company. After the band's vocalist left, Wilson took over, composing original material and leading the band through various formations over several years.
However, Wilson quickly proved to be a bit eccentric for the band, and his music was becoming increasingly experimental. At 16, he picked up on the music of John Cage, and went so far as to send Cage manuscripts of his music. To Wilson's surprise, Cage actually invited him to his home where they would discuss and critique the music for a couple of days. Perhaps as a result, Wilson's band ventured into even stranger realms, and their gigs began to consist of three or four songs, followed by fights between band members and audience, who were throwing anything within reach at the stage. Wilson graduated from high school in 1970, and moved to New York City with his friend Vince Rossi (who plays trombone on one song on this record).
New York proved to be a tad rough for the boys, who were back in their hometown within weeks, living with their parents again. Wilson set up a studio in his parents' basement, spending countless nights working with magnetic recording tape and making the music that would become his only album. This album, You Think You Really Know Me, was completed in 1977, and is a testament to Wilson's virtual one-man dogged determination and talent. He pressed the record with his own money, and promoted it by mailing it to radio stations and music writers throughout the U.S. He sent along self-made press packages, including some pretty fucked-up photos (the one with Wilson covered in tape, staring at the camera in his underwear stands out). He even got some radio play, and in 1978 moved to California in hopes of landing a record deal. Of course, he never found one, though he did make a last-ditch tour cross-country, ending in 1981 with a gig at CBGB's, and some very rare seven-inch EPs. Since then, he's settled in California and retired from music. One of his friends sent this album to Motel Records, and this reissue is the result.
So, now you know the story; be prepared for the unique cocktail-angst stylings that are Wilson's tunes. The thing is, the music-- largely an odd combination of late 70s soft rock, proto-synth pop and experimental tape effects-- wouldn't seem half as strange if not for Wilson's raw, thoroughly unpolished vocals. Most of the time, he's out of tune, otherwise his voice is cracking, struggling to contain his enthusiasm when he blurts out stuff like, "Oh, Jesus, she's so real!" or emitting one of his trademark (well, copied from James Brown) "hey's" or "hoo's". Wilson, to his credit, is a great keyboardist and bassist, and pairs himself with an equally great drummer (Gary Iacovelli). Furthermore, his production is clear and dynamic, suggesting that if he hadn't retired, he probably could have made a very fine producer or engineer. Nevertheless, most people are going to focus on his voice, which is nothing if not unique.