Will Oldham – Discography & Rarities
Magic Music from the man of a hundred names! – aka Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, Palace Music, Palace, Palace Soundtrack, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy etc etc!
God bless the chaos, I’m ready to go
Made my provisions written my notes
Too bad that folks remain on the earth
To see me deny no to renew my birth
And even my swallow my sweet one of all
Will be angry and bitter and briefly withdraw
For I’ve done much protecting and hiding of hardness
The awful emotion I never could bear
I was always afraid to reveal what I’m knowing
Like I have a particular kind of thing growing
Indifference, a bosom ally to despair,
Soaks itself in to the skin and the hair
We love the peerless music Will Oldham, the man with the greatest number of aliases this side of a conman appearing on the Interpol Most Wanted list!
We have already posted lots of Willy stuff here: Will Oldham
Surely the greatest songwriter of his generation, his work over the past almost 20 years has been consistently astounding, experimental, challenging and varied. And voluminous!
His live shows are excellent too and I have been lucky enough to see him play live a few times.
Will Oldham first performed and recorded under various permutations of the Palace name, including Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, Palace Music, and simply Palace. Regarding the name changes during this period (1993-1997), Oldham said:
“ Well, I guess the idea is that when you have a name of a group or an artist, then you expect that the next record, if it has the same name, should be the same group of people playing on it. And I just thought we were making a different kind of record each time, with different people, and different themes, and different sounds. So I thought it was important to call it something different so that people would be aware of the differences.
I mean, I don’t want people buying my records and being disappointed that it doesn’t sound like the last one… Within my own tiny little world, the first full-length Palace record is with one kind of musician and it was recorded in a certain type of way, while the second one was completely different-sounding and there was a fifth of the amount of people involved.
The songs to me also seemed really different. And then the third record was another completely different recording environment and I had different kinds of musicians involved. So those things seemed different enough for me to alter the name. I’ll admit that that’s just me in the process of moving forward without any benefit of perspective, distance, or time whatsoever. ”
Beginning in 1998, Oldham has primarily used the moniker Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, which draws inspiration from several sources:
“ Yeah, the name has so many different references that it could almost have a life of its own. Bonnie Prince Charlie has such a beautiful ring to it, and I was very conscious of appropriating that mellifluous sound.
And I was also thinking about the name Nat King Cole. But it wasn’t until later, and this may have been subconscious, that I remembered that Billy the Kid was William Bonney or Billy Bonney.”
Oldham has explained that “the primary purpose of the pseudonym is to allow both the audience and the performer to have a relationship with the performed that is valid and unbreakable.
“He doesn’t rehearse. … He chooses the people he’s going to play with shortly before the session, so everyone is playing by the seat of their pants, and the music is at constant risk, subject to the weaknesses of whoever’s in the room. But he gets absolutely spontaneous moments of greatness you couldn’t rehearse.”
Will is actually a true polymath, as well as his enormous music output, dabbling in photography, design and of course acting.
In fact, the first time I ever saw Will was in John Sayles’s majestic Matewan, back in 1987, wherein Will, at the age of 17, portrayed a teen preacher in this film about an Appalachian mining community. His performance there was mesmerising.
Far more recently, he showed he still has this acting chops, with a fine performance in the lovely low-budget film Old Joy from 2006. We have posted this tremendous film HERE
Oldham has produced so much music, under his own various monikers and his countless collaborations, it is almost impossible to get an accurate listing of them all!
The Royal Stable sets out an extensive Will Oldham discography.
Here are a shitload of Will albums and singles – all the proper albums and most of the EPs plus a number of singles.
A mountain of majestic music!
All thanks to my friends, Oldham fans and music lovers at skafunkrastapunk!
We have already posted some Willy stuff and will try to complete the discography over time.
I haven’t checked all the links. Let me know if any of em have been trolled.
Please Note: (i.e. don’t fucking bother me with complaints regarding any of the below!!)
- If any password is set out by the original poster, I have listed it. There does not seem to be any!
- Win RAR gives a dumb Password error message when a file has not been DL’ed properly. If you get this message, DL the file again.
- For lil GW Bushs out there! … If you see a hxxp in any link, replace with http!!
- Some links have blanks … remove any BLANKS that may be therein.
Palace Brothers: There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You (1993)
The seminal first album by the Palace Brothers, released back in 1993 on Drag City Records.
It’s Will Oldham’s debut album, and also features several members of Louisville rock/post-rock band Slint.
The album was included in Mojo Magazine’s The Mojo Collection: The Greatest Albums of All Time (2001).
1. “Idle Hands Are the Devil’s Playthings” – 2:06
2. “Long Before” – 6:12
3. “I Tried to Stay Healthy For You” – 3:30
4. “The Cellar Song” – 3:51
5. “(I Was Drunk at The) Pulpit” – 3:51
6. “There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You” – 2:55
7. “O Lord Are You in Need?” – 2:58
8. “Merida” – 3:38
9. “King Me” – 3:49
10. “I Had a Good Mother and Father” (Washington Phillips) – 2:54
11. “Riding” – 4:23
12. “O Paul” – 2:49
Palace Brothers and Smog (Bill Callahan) aka The Sundowners: Goat Songs 1993
Goat Songs is the name of a 7″ vinyl EP by The Sundowners, released on Sea Note Records in 1993. The EP is a collaboration between Palace Brothers (Will Oldham) and Smog (Bill Callahan). The EP was reissued on 21 May 1994.
1. “Turkey Vulture”
2. “Tonight Will Be Fine” (Leonard Cohen)
3. “Punk Rock”
Palace Brothers: Days in the Wake (1994)
Will Oldham’s second full LP with Will on guitar and vocals and with assistance from siblings
Ned Oldham and Paul Oldham.
The album was released in 1994 on Drag City Records. Original copies of the album were eponymous.
1. “You Will Miss Me When I Burn” – 3:18
2. “Pushkin” – 2:52
3. “Come a Little Dog” – 2:18
4. “I Send My Love to You” – 2:16
5. “Meaulnes” – 2:27
6. “No More Workhorse Blues” – 3:29
7. “All Is Grace” – 1:34
8. “Whither Thou Goest” – 2:02
9. “(Thou Without) Partner” – 4:03
10. “I Am a Cinematographer” – 2:36
(RAR also includes Palace Brothers: There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You (1993) )
Palace Songs – “Hope” (mini album) (1994)
1. “Agnes, Queen of Sorrow” – 4:05
2. “Untitled” – 2:23
3. “Winter Lady” (Leonard Cohen) – 2:42
4. “Christmastime in the Mountains” – 1:38
5. “All Gone, All Gone” – 4:52
6. “Werner’s Last Blues to Blokbuster” – 4:41
Palace Music: Viva Last Blues (1995)
Viva Last Blues is the third formal album by Will Oldham,
Under the monker Palace Music, this features Will Oldham on vocals and guitar. The album was recorded by Steve Albini and includes fan favorite “New Partner”. It was released in 1995 on Drag City Records.
The artwork is by Dianne Bellino (cover drawing) and Cynthia Kirkwood (painting).
Voted #60 on Pitchfork Media’s “Top 100 Albums of the 1990s”
1. “More Brother Rides” – 3:18
2. “Viva Ultra” – 3:18
3. “The Brute Choir” – 2:43
4. “The Mountain Low” – 2:44
5. “Tonight’s Decision (And Hereafter)” – 4:10
6. “Work Hard/Play Hard” – 2:50
7. “New Partner” – 3:54
8. “Cat’s Blues” – 3:18
9. “We All, Us Three, Will Ride” – 2:56
10. “Old Jerusalem” – 2:16
Palace – “The Mountain”/”(End of ) Travelling” (1995)
The Mountain by Palace is the name of a Will Oldham EP released in 1995.
The EP is a compilation of two previously released Oldham singles, “West Palm Beach” / “Gulf Shores” (1994) and “The Mountain” / “(End of) Travelling” (1995).
1. “The Mountain”
2. “(End of) Travelling”
3. “Gulf Shores”
4. “West Palm Beach”
Palace: Arise Therefore (1996)
Arise Therefore is the fourth studio album of Will Oldham. The album’s packaging does not include the artist’s name. It has been considered both a Palace release and a Will Oldham release.
The album features David Grubbs, Ned Oldham, and a Maya Tone drum machine. It was recorded by Steve Albini at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, USA.
- “A Sucker’s Evening”
- “Arise, Therefore”
- “You Have Cum in Your Hair and Your Dick is Hanging Out”
- “Kid of Harith”
- “The Sun Highlights the Lack in Each”
- “No Gold Digger”
- “A Group of Women”
- “Give Me Children”
- “The Weaker Soldier”
Palace Music: Lost Blues and Other Songs (1993-97)
Lost Blues and Other Songs by Palace Music is a compilation of singles, rarities, and live tracks recorded by Will Oldham under various permutations of the Palace name from 1993-1997.
This compilation was later followed by Guarapero/Lost Blues 2 (2000) and Little Lost Blues (2006).
“Ohio River Boat Song” is an adaptation of the traditional Scottish “Loch Tay Boat Song”, and “Horses” was originally written and performed by Sally Timms of the Mekons on her 1988 solo album Somebody’s Rockin’ My Dreamboat.
This LP contains one of my favourite Oldham lines; “It’s Valentines day, and I’m catatonic.” I’ve been there, man!
1. “Ohio River Boat Song”
3. “Valentine’s Day”
4. “Trudy Dies”
5. “Come In”
6. “Little Blue Eyes”
8. “Stable Will”
9. “Untitled” (Live at the Lounge Ax November 17, 1994)
10. “O How I Enjoy the Light”
12. “West Palm Beach”
13. “Gulf Shores”
14. “(End Of) Travelling”
15. “Lost Blues”
Will Oldham – “Joya” (1997)
The fifth album by Will Oldham, but the first (and only to date) album billed to his name, rather than the Palace or Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy monikers.
It was released in 1997 on Drag City Records. and also features Bob Arellano, Colin Gagon, and David Pajo.
Some copies of the album included a bonus disc entitled Little Joya (see BELOW), which was later reissued as a separate single in 1998.
In 2007, when the album became available for online download through the iTunes Store, the artist credit was changed to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, with altered artwork reflecting the change.
1. “O Let It Be”
3. “New Gypsy”
4. “Under What Was Oppression”
5. “The Gator”
6. “Open Your Heart”
8. “Be Still and Know God (Don’t Be Shy)”
9. “Apocolypse, No!”
10. “I Am Still What I Meant to Be”
11. “Bolden Boke Boy”
12. “Idea and Deed”
Will Oldham – “Little Joya” (1997/98)
Initial copies of the Joya album included a bonus disc entitled Little Joya
, which was later reissued as a separate single in 1998.
There’s a lovely song here dedicated to GW Bush – “Exit Music (for a Dick)”!!
3. “Exit Music (for a Dick)”
Will Oldham – Western Music (1997)
Another rare and wonderful Oldham EP.
Western Music was released on Spanish record label Acuarela Ovni. The EP also features Mick Turner and Jim White of wonderful Australian band The Dirty Three.
Keeping up with Will Oldham’s complete output can be a very hard task. He has always mixed releases between albums with the shorter formats of the 7″ and EP, producing a healthy amount of material in between his full-length releases. However, seeking out the 7″ and EP formats can be rewarding, as the material often matches, and occasionally surpasses the quality of his albums. The 4 Track Western Music EP is a very hard to find title released in very limited edition by the combined forces of two labels out of Spain (Acurela and Ovni) in 1988. Coming from a variety of sessions.
Two tracks are solo Oldham, while Mick Turner and Jim White of the Dirty Three and former Gastr del Sol member David Grubbs play anonymous roles elsewhere. On nearly every song, Oldham approaches the level of his best work. “Always Bathing in the Evening” is perfect for dark bedroom listening. “Wade in/Wade in,” he sings, as voices in the distance chime in with “Blowing/Jump in/Waiting/Jump in.” While there is little lyrical matter to speak of, it sounds fantastic. On “Three Photographs” Oldham is an intriguing, fragmentary story told through pictures. Over the most rudimentary, lo-fi guitar strum.
With the other track “Western Song For J.L.L”, this is another fine outing, bringing to mind some of the material he would later release as Bonnie Prince Billy. Western Music came during a particularly prolific time for Oldham (during the Joya period) and was very hard to find even when in print. Only the best indie stores in the world were able to get them in and they were all pretty quickly gobbled up.
-from an Amazon reviewer
1. Always Bathing in the Evening
2. Western Song for J. LL.
3. Three Photographs
4. Jump In, Jump In, Come In, Come In
Palace Soundtrack – Songs Put Together For (The Broken Giant) or Black/Rich Music (1998)
Songs Put Together For (The Broken Giant) by Palace Soundtrack is the name of an EP released in 1996 on Drag City Records, and is the soundtrack for the 1998 film The Broken Giant, directed by Estep Nagy and Guy grist.
The EP was reissued as Black/Rich Music by Will Oldham on June 22, 1998 on CD and 12″ vinyl.
1. “Organ: Watch With Me” (retitled “Organ: Do What You Will Do” on Black/Rich Music)
2. “Do What You Will Do”
3. “The Risen Lord”
4. “Organ: Allowance”
6. “Black/Rich Tune”
7. “Organ: Black/Rich”
8. “Guitar: Do What You Will Do”
Bonnie Prince Billy – Blue Lotus Feet (Domino, 1998)
Another bizarre one, this!
The Blue Lotus Feet EP was released on UK record label Domino Records in 1998.
It consists of the “One with the Birds” / “Southside of the World” single (previously released on Palace Records in the U.S. the same year), as well as five Hare Krishna songs, first performed live by Oldham during a session for VPRO’s “De Avonden” broadcast on Dutch radio on 15 October 1998.
The English translation of the krishnas is taken from “Cosmic Chants” by Paramahansa Yogananda, as originally sung and recorded by the Monks Of The Self-Realization Order.
- “One with the Birds” – 5:13
- “Southside of the World” – 3:04
- “When Thy Song Flows Through Me” – 2:29
- “I Am the Sky” – 0:53
- “Blue Lotus Feet” – 1:14
- “Polestar of My Life” – 0:22
- “Door of My Heart” – 0:44
Will Oldham – Ode Music (Drag City, 1999)
Ode Music is the name of a Will Oldham EP released in 2000 – the soundtrack to the film of the same name by Kelly Reichardt.
The EP is entirely instrumental, featuring primarily acoustic guitar, piano, and organ.
The album’s cover art is by film director Todd Haynes.
- “Ode #1″ – 7:41
- “Ode #2″ – 4:07
- “Ode #3″ – 2:03
- “Ode #4″ – 3:19
- “Ode #1a” – 2:51
- “Ode #1b” – 3:31
- “Ode #2a” – 2:33
- “Ode #5″ – 2:40
- “Ode #3a” – 1:56
- “Ode #4a” – 3:01
Bonnie Prince Billy – “I See a Darkness” (1999)
A true classic. Rated #20 in Mojo: The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime and #9 in Pitchfork Media: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s.
1. “A Minor Place”
2. “Nomadic Revery (All Around)”
3. “I See a Darkness”
4. “Another Day Full of Dread”
5. “Death to Everyone”
8. “Song for the New Breed”
9. “Today I Was an Evil One”
11. “Raining in Darling”
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy- Dream of a Drunk Black Southern Eagle (1999)
Dream of a Drunk Black Southern Eagle
is the name of a Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy EP released in 1999 as a free item for subscribers of the French daily newspaper Libération.
It contains two singles previously released in the U.S. in 1998: “One with the Birds” / “Southside of the World” and “I Am Drinking Again” / “Dreaming My Dreams”. The fifth track, “Song for the New Breed (orchestral)”, is an alternate recording of “Song for the New Breed”, which originally appeared on Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s I See a Darkness album in 1999. This version is exclusive to this release.
1. One With the Birds
2. Southside of the World
3. I Am Drinking Again
4. Dreaming My Dreams
5. Song for the New Breed (Orchestral version)
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy “Let’s Start a Family (Blacks)” / “A Whorehouse Is Any House” (1999)
||Let’s Start A Family
|| A Whorehouse Is Any House
Will Oldham – Live Skibereen, Ireland 29 August 1999
Here’s the great Will Oldham and the amazing Silver Jew David Berman playing some of their songs as well as covering some songs of other artists, talking and reading poetry!
All at the literary/music festival at Liss Ard, Skibbereen, on the west coast of County Cork on 29 August 1999.
1. Now II
2. Arise, Therefore
3. If There Tas a Book About This Hallway
4. Crying in the Chapel
6. A Leprechaun Gave Me a Blowjob
7 Missing in Action
8. Talking and Jokes
9. Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
10. War in Apartment 1812
12. Madeleine- Mary
14. Nervous Ashers & Apocalypse
15. Armadillo Song of London Homesick Blues
17. Folsom Prison Blues in Spanish
18. Sweet Child O’ Mine
19. Thunder Road
21. Come In
22. The Rocker
23. New Orleans
24. Smith & Jones Forever
25. Turn the Page
Here be the dastardly duo
Will Oldham: Guarapero/Lost Blues 2 (2000)
Guarapero/Lost Blues 2 is the second compilation of Oldham singles, rarities, and live performances, after Lost Blues and Other Songs (1997). A third Oldham compilation, Little Lost Blues, was released in 2006.
The lyrics of “The Risen Lord”, an alternative version of which appeared on the 2004 EP Black/Rich Music, are taken from a poem by D. H. Lawrence. “Big Balls” is a version of a song by AC/DC (with lyrics rewritten by Oldham), and “Every Mother’s Son” was originally performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
1. “Drinking Woman”
2. “The Spider’s Dude Is Often There”
4. “Let the Wires Ring”
5. “Big Balls”
6. “For the Mekons Et Al”
7. “Stable Will”
8. “Every Mother’s Son”
9. “No More Rides”
10. “The Risen Lord”
11. “Boy, Have You Cum”
13. “Take However Long You Want”
14. “Sugarcane Juice Drinker”
15. “Call Me a Liar”
16. “O Lord Are You in Need”
Bonnie Blue Billy – Little Boy Blue (Western Vinyl, 2000)
This is an absolutely outstanding release and urgently needs a re-release. All of the three songs are top-notch Oldham songwriting. “Little Boy Blue” and “Little Boy Blue 2″ have been given the treatment in 2006 on Little Lost Blues, a VERY limited bonus-disc to “The Letting Go”. Still lost is the humorous “Blue Boy” with hilarious background vocals and a hawaii-style guitar. Try to get your hands on this!
“Little Boy Blue”
“Little Boy Blue 2″
Bonny Billy – More Revery (Temporary Residence Limited, 2001)
More Revery by Bonnie Billy is the name of a Will Oldham EP released in 2000 as Volume 7 of the Travels in Constants subscription series on the label Temporary Residence Limited.
It was recorded live at the Palais du Congres in Shelbyville, KY by Paul Oldham and consists of six cover songs.
The EP was reissued in 2001 as Temporary Residence TRR-37, with different song mixes and the crowd noise removed.
1. “Someone’s Sleeping” (John Phillips)
2. “Sweeter Than Anything” (P.J. Harvey)
3. “Same Love That Made Me Laugh” (Bill Withers)
4. “A Dream of the Sea” (The Renderers)
5. “Strange Things” (John Holt)
6. “Just to See You Smile” (Mark Nesler/Tony Martin) (Tim McGraw cover)
Bonnie Prince Billy – “Ease Down the Road” 2-CD edition (2001)
This collection also features an array of collaborators such as Todd Brashear, Matt Everett, Mike Fellows, Paul Greenlaw, Catherine Irwin, Ned Oldham, David Pajo, Bryan Rich, Matt Sweeney, and Jon Theodore. Oh, and one of our fave whackjob film-makers, Harmony Korine!
1. “May It Always Be”
2. “Careless Love”
3. “A King at Night”
4. “Just to See My Holly Home”
5. “At Break of Day”
6. “After I Made Love to You”
7. “Ease Down the Road”
8. “The Lion Lair”
9. “Mrs William”
11. “Grand Dark Feeling of Emptiness”
12. “Rich Wife Full of Happiness”
Rian Murphy and Will Oldham – “All Most Heaven” EP (2001)
Although it runs only 15 minutes long, this release is one that would win over most people on name-dropping alone. While the main singers are Rian Murphy and Oldham, the musical arrangements are by Jim O’Rourke and Archer Prewitt had a big hand in the background vocals. Not only that, but David Grubbs, Bill Callahan, Edith Frost, and Laetitia Sadier make appearences among others. It’s a damn indie rock hotsheet lineup and although the music isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before, it’s super enjoyable and just a plain excellent little release.
The four songs on the album follow sort of a natural progression and start out with “Fall Again.” Made up of a nice arrangement of organs, guitars, bass, piano, strings, and a touch of horns, it’s a jaunty little track that fits perfectly with the very odd lyrics (that actually are in all the tracks). At first, I wondered if I was just hearing them sing wrong, but upon looking at the lyrics sheet, I realized that they yes indeed did just say, “they boge in do bo/when you call the name/of they sing or they/I bmal bahl.” It’s like a bit of Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange-speak thrown in to real English and it works very well with the lush, almost baroquey sounding arrangements by O’Rourke. The third track “Song Of Most” goes with a more string-driven track again and with a backing chorus that includes Sadier (of Stereolab), the lyrics of “We held upon a biggun daddy/hates to, the song fall on/the gable/ah ee stood ape-hole” seem still manage to sound somewhat regal.
The short EP ends with the slower “Song Of All” and the light horns, guitar and piano arrangement close things out nicely with vocals by Oldham (as well as a chorus of several backups). Overall, it’s a very short release and probably more for those who’ve already heard work by those involved (but chances are you have given everyone that had a hand in the release). Musically, it’s very nearly perfect with very full sounds and varied instrumentation, and even with the sometimes undecipherable lyrics, it makes for a nice little musical morsel.
1. Fall Again
2. Fall And Raise It On
3. Song Of Most
4. Song Of All
Papa M – Whatever, Mortal (2001)
Will Oldham co-produced this album and his influence is palpable throughout. ‘Whatever, Mortal’ discards the dark broth of Bonnie Prince Billy in favour of a warm, seductive brew.
1. Over Jordan
2. Beloved Woman
3. Roses In The Snow
4. Sorrow Reigns
6. Lass Of Roch Royal, The
7. Many Splendored Thing
8. Glad You’re Here With Me
11. Purple Eyelid
12. Unquiet Grave, The
13. Northwest Passage
Will Oldham, Jason Molina, Alasdair Roberts – Amalgamated Sons Of Rest (2002)
Amalgamated Sons of Rest is the name of a one-off project by Will Oldham and the great Jason Molina, along with Scottish colleague Alasdair Roberts.
The collaboration yielded one eponymous EP, released in 2002 on Galaxia Records, and a song, “Translation”, released by Jade Tree Records. “Translation” was not released under the Amalgamated Sons of Rest moniker though, but under Molina’s then-usual band name, Songs: Ohia, on a split EP with My Morning Jacket.
1. “Maa Bonny Lad”
2. “My Donal”
3. “The Gypsy He-Witch”
4. “The Last House”
5. “Major March”
6. “Jennie Blackbird’s Blues”
7. “I Will Be Good”
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Happy Child (2003)
A limited edition 2 track mini CD from Will Oldham aka the Bonnie Prince Billy – himself. The tracks are: ‘Happy Child’ from a record by Tweaker (with vocal and lyrics by Will Oldham) and ‘Forest Time’ from the 10? record and book that graced our record racks sometime in the not too distant past. Lovely.
1. ‘Happy Child’
2. ‘Forest Time’
Bonnie Prince Billy – “Master and Everyone” (2003)
Master and Everyone is the name of a 2003 album by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. The album also features Tony Crow, John Kelton, Paul Oldham, Marty Slayton, Matt Swanson, Gary Lee Tussing, and William Tyler, and was produced by Lambchop’s Mark Nevers.
1. “The Way”
2. “Ain’t You Wealthy, Ain’t You Wise?”
3. “Master and Everyone”
4. “Wolf Among Wolves”
5. “Joy and Jubilee”
7. “Lessons From What’s Poor”
8. “Even If Love”
9. “Three Questions”
10. “Hard Life”
Will Oldham – Seafarers Music (2004)
This is one of my favourite minor Oldham recordings – an instrumental short album with a nautical theme.
It is the soundtrack to the film Seafarers (2004) by British director Jason Massot, a documentary about four seamen in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Each of the album’s tracks is named after one of the four sailors.
The EP also features playing from Paul Oldham and David Bird.
From Pitchfork (where it got an 8.0):
A few weeks back, at a secret Bonnie “Prince” Billy show, I made a rookie mistake, presuming that I knew what Will Oldham was up to, even a decade after having first been mystified by his music. Brashly assuming the seasick music I’d heard that night (courtesy of “Prince” and “Cockfighter,” aka Matt Sweeney) to be a taster for his soundtrack work for British director Jason Massot’s documentary about sailors in the bustling Rotterdam seaport. The newswire quoted me blabbering expertly on “songs about spanking, donkeys (but not spanking donkeys), and allusions to creatures such as the ‘Super Wolf’ and ‘Panther Girl’.” I’d asserted that there couldn’t possibly be more songs about sailors and the sea.
Was I ever wrong. Not only were the dozen songs I’d heard completely new, but none of them referenced the soundtrack for Seafarers at all, save the fashion sense of the sardine-packed Williamsburg crowd itself. Sailor is the new Camo: Will-fully-induced scurvy, scruffy pirate beards, ironic bicep-tual hula girl tats, moth-riddled wooly peacoats, salty squints, and crooked seamen caps are replacing Radar hats, olive-green fatigues, boutique-bought dogtags, and $100 paratrooper pants at a frightening pace. Again, Oldham surfs ahead of the Zeitgeist, much as he did by anticipating skillet-licking necrofolkia with There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You and Days in the Wake.
Like Oldham’s previous seafaring soundtrack work, these four songs, dedicated to rough-hewn human flotsam from Sweden, Polynesia, Croatia and Nigeria, are instrumental– Oldham, brother Paul and David Bird carving out four different variations on a melancholic theme. Not quite sea shanties, the gently finger-flicked notes sway to and fro, creaking like frayed ropes and salt-cracked lips on a stilled day, destinationless, and surrounded by the infinite waters. Each character bobs and pitches on the slight fluctuations of shimmering saline, their movements imperceptible yet in motion. The order of notes is uncertain and always changing, leaving me to wonder if the characters are but Abyss-like apparitions raised from the sea itself.
That said, the little nuances of the Oldhams’ and Bird’s playing are what keep the notes afloat on the despondent, drunken music bed, and their soft focus makes for more return listens than Oldham’s past scores for The Broken Giant or Slitch. The musicians enter in about a minute apart on “Sapele”, setting up slight ripples between each others’ notes while open strings and tube-warmed amps buzz towards the horizon, accompanying protagonist “Lars”. The smallest of sounds, such as the wheezing of air organ and ungrounded fuzz bubble up on “Emmanuel” and shine as beacons, their minimal gestures conveying the sad depths that lie beneath the sailors’ brutish exteriors. Could Will Oldham be the next Jean Genet, using the fragile-feminine to trace the savage-masculine, or does this just reinforce that incidental music is the next post-rock?
Bonnie Prince Billy – “Sings Greatest Palace Music” (2004)
A rather strange one, this! Although, with Oldham, everything is kinda strange!
This could’ve been called “Billy’s Nashville Skyline“!
The LP features ‘cover-versions’ of songs from his Palace music era (1993-1997), recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with a large group of renowned country session musicians!
The lo-fi nature of the songs’ original recordings was abandoned in favour of a more conventionally polished country sound.
Guest musicians include the likes of Eddie Bayers, Stuart Duncan, Mark Fain, Mike Johnson, Hargus Robbins, Andrew Bird and Bruce Watkins.
1. “New Partner”
2. “Ohio River Boat Song”
3. “Gulf Shores”
4. “You Will Miss Me When I Burn”
5. “The Brute Choir”
6. “I Send My Love to You”
7. “More Brother Rides”
8. “Agnes, Queen of Sorrow”
9. “Viva Ultra”
13. “West Palm Beach”
14. “No More Workhorse Blues”
15. “I Am a Cinematographer”
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy Agnes, Queen Of Sorrow (2004)
Sage Francis with Will Oldham – Sea Lion (2005)
1. Sea Lion
Bonnie Prince Billy and Matt Sweeney – “Superwolf” (2005)
Superwolf is the name of an album by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Matt Sweeney, released in 2005 on Drag City Records. Sue Schofield provides guest vocals.
They do a Lennon & Mc Cartney with the lyrics being by Will Oldham and the music by Matt Sweeney!
A live version of “My Home Is the Sea” was included on a Drag City sampler titled “Drag City A to Z”.
1. “My Home Is the Sea”
2. “Beast for Thee”
3. “What Are You?”
4. “Goat and Ram”
5. “Lift Us Up”
6. “Rudy Foolish”
7. “Bed Is for Sleeping”
8. “Only Someone Running”
9. “Death in the Sea”
10. “Blood Embrace”
11. “I Gave You”
Bonnie Prince Billy and Matt Sweeney (Superwolf) – Ignition (2005)
A strange R Kelly Cover!
Bonny Billy: Little Lost Blues: 1998-2006 (2006)
Little Lost Blues by Bonny Billy is the third compilation of singles and rarities by Will Oldham. The previous two were Lost Blues and Other Songs (1997) and Guarapero/Lost Blues 2 (2000).
“Little Boy Blue” is a George Jones cover, and “Less of Me” is a Glen Campbell cover.
1. “Little Boy Blue”
2. “His Hands”
3. “Black Dissimulation”
4. “Southside of the World”
5. “I Confess”
6. “Less of Me”
8. “Let’s Start a Family (Blacks)”
9. “Little Boy Blue 2″
10. “I Am Drinking Again”
11. “Crying in the Chapel”
Bonnie Prince Billy – “The Letting Go” (2006)
The Letting Go was recorded in Reykjavík, Iceland and produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson, who is known for his work with the Icelandic artist Björk.
Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables also sings on the album while Jim White, the longtime drummer for the the wonderful Oz group Dirty Three, whacks the sticks!
The album’s name comes from the last lines of the great Emily Dickinson poem that starts “After a Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes”:
This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow -
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
1. “Love Comes to Me” – 4:31
2. “Strange Form of Life” – 3:46
3. “Wai” – 3:37
4. “Cursed Sleep” – 5:35
5. “No Bad News” – 4:45
6. “Cold & Wet” – 2:21
7. “Big Friday” – 2:43
8. “Lay & Love” – 3:50
9. “The Seedling” – 4:36
10. “Then the Letting Go” – 5:19
11. “God’s Small Song” – 4:05
12. “I Called You Back” – 7:53
13. “Ebb Tide” – 5:14 (hidden track). Bonus track on some versions, “Untitled” on some versions.
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Cursed Sleep (2006)
“Cursed Sleep” is the name of a Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy single taken from the 2006 album The Letting Go. The single came in both 12″ vinyl and CD formats.
1. “Cursed Sleep”
2. “The Signifiying Wolf”
3. “God’s Small Song”
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy -Ask Forgiveness (2007)
A sublime collection of idiosyncratic covers plus one new song. I fucking love this one!
Oldham even makes a Bjork song sound good!That ain’t fucking easy!
1. “I Came Here to Hear the Music” (Mickey Newbury)
2. “I’ve Seen It All” (Björk, originally performed with Thom Yorke)
3. “Am I Demon” (Danzig)
4. “My Life” (Phil Ochs)
5. “I’m Loving the Street” (Will Oldham)
6. “The Way I Am” (Mekons/Merle Haggard/Sonny Throckmorton)
7. “Cycles” (Frank Sinatra, written by Gayle Caldwell)
8. “The World’s Greatest” (R. Kelly)
Bonnie Prince Billy – “Lay and Love” CD single (2007)
Personnel include: Dawn McCarthy (vocals); Emmett Kelly (guitar); Craig Wagner (banjo); Chris Fortner (trombone); Paul Oldham (electric bass); Jason Tiemann, Jim White (drums).
That’s not the famous Dylan track Going to Acapulco, is it?
1. Lay and Love
3. Going to Acapulco
Here’s the vid directed by Vernon Chatham and John Lee, creators of Wonder Showzen
Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Wai Notes (2007)
This is a new limited edition (not to mention beautifully packaged) Will Oldham album in which he combines with Faun Fables’ Dawn McCarthy for an alternate take on material penned for the last Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album. The incredibly rough recordings that make up Wai Notes were once demos for The Letting Go album, an LP that was about as hi-fi and full-blooded as you could ever hope to hear. Perhaps because of those maxed-out production values, the album tended to split opinion between long-term Oldham followers, but hearing the songs in their nascent form is sure to be unanimously well received among Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy die-hards.
The format is pared down to just Oldham and McCarthy singing whilst accompanied by a little acoustic guitar and a whole lot of tape hiss. It’s rather odd to hear a song like ‘Cursed Sleep’ bereft of its lavish string arrangements, but here it is complete with errors and fumbled lyrics, and it sounds just great.
Of course to get the full benefit of an album like this it really helps if you know the songs as they appeared on the album in the first place, but even if this is your first time dipping into the material there remains an obvious beauty to these coarse documents. It’s interesting that McCarthy gets first billing on the CD, her voice seems to be more defined and spatially diffuse than Oldham’s own performance – presumably it’s been overdubbed at some later time with some slightly higher quality equipment.
In any case the uncompromising physicality and intimacy of the material here makes for a wonderful listening experience.
Very highly recommended.
Bonnie Prince Billy -Lie Down In The Light (2008)
Gone are the sweeping strings of 2006s The Letting Go, on a record of more straightforward country that sees the ever-consistent Oldham sounding positively cheerful as he (after a fashion!) extols the joys of love, friendship and family.
1. “Easy Does It”
2. “You Remind Me of Something (The Glory Goes)”
3. “So Everyone”
4. “For Every Field There’s a Mole”
5. “(Keep Eye On) Other’s Gain”
6. “You Want That Picture”
7. “Missing One”
8. “What’s Missing Is”
9. “Where Is the Puzzle?”
10. “Lie Down in the Light”
11. “Willow Trees Bend”
12. “I’ll Be Glad” (Shannon Stephens)
Bonnie Prince Billy – Wilding In The West (2008)
Australian-only live release from Will Oldham and his band, recorded in California.
Wilding In The West features passionate versions of classic Bonnie Prince Billy tracks plus three new tracks.
1. O Let It Be
2. Little Small Song
3. Then the Letting Go
5. Master & Everyone
6. No Such as What I Want
7. Naked Lion
8. No Bad News
10. Three Questions
11. Weaker Soldier
12. I Called You Back
13. Magnificent Billy
14. Is It the Sea/My Home Is the Sea
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (with Harem Scarem and Alex Nielsen) – Is It The Sea? (October 2008)
Is this Will Oldham’s riposte to Mike Scott’s mid-80′s LP “This is the Sea”? Nah!!
No so-called “Big Music” here! Just real music!
Willy’s on a creative roll lately! It’s wonderful! Yes, its looking like 2008 might be the year that Oldham can finally wrest the title of “number one artist that will always be referred to as prolific” from Ryan Adams!
Following the out of the blue, and excellent Lie Down in the Light, this live album will be released October 20, on Domino Records.
The decidedly nautically themed LP culls songs from Spring 2006 shows in Scotland, Ireland and Newcastle and features a tracklisting that pulls songs from across his long and varied discography.
“New Partner” gets its third outing since its debut in Viva Last Blues ! Billy just loves that ditty!
01 Minor Place
02 Love Comes to Me
03 Bed Is for Sleeping
04 Arise Therefore
05 Wolf Among Wolves
06 Ain’t You Wealthy, Ain’t You Wise?
07 Cursed Sleep
08 Molly Bawn
09 Birch Ballad
10 New Partner
11 Is It the Sea?
12 My Home Is the Sea
13 Master and Everyone
Big thanks to all Oldham fans and posters!!